Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Business Quarterly: Manufacturing companies begin to relax COVID-19 protocols

Local manufacturers, including some of the region’s largest employers, have said many of their COVID-19 protocols have been lifted and their businesses are standardizing themselves.

The number of vaccinations in New Hampshire continues to rise, although the initial wave of vaccination has slowed considerably in recent weeks. Currently, New Hampshire has distributed a total of 1.66 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, with 778,000 people fully vaccinated, or 57.2% of the population. Registered cases of COVID-19 also tend to decline in the state.

As more residents complete their immunization regimes, the state has rescinded some of its recommendations for COVID-19 precautions, including travel quarantines and mask warrants.

Some of the region’s largest employers have followed suit, making recent adjustments to their COVID-19 protocols, while leaving several safeguards in place.

“Like everyone else in 2020, this all caught us off guard,” said Abigail LePage, president and CEO of Kimball Physics in Wilton. Ledger-transcription. “In March (of 2020) we had to hurry to make changes and have people who can work work remotely. Anyone we could, we sent to work from home. But we are a manufacturing plant, and our production teams, obviously, that was not possible. “

Kimball Physics employs around 70 people, LePage said, and did not have room for all of the fabrication shop workers at full social distancing, although they provided that space when they could and installed plastic barriers for when that was not possible. Disinfection of frequently touched surfaces occurred several times a day, and masks were required for company employees. Employees were also required to take their temperature and self-report any symptoms or contact with anyone with symptoms of COVID-19.

LePage said some of those protocols persist, but many have been lifted in recent weeks. Masks are no longer mandatory and employees still take their temperature and self-assess on an honor system.

Ball Bearings from New Hampshire to Peterborough have also adopted strict COVID-19 protocols, according to Chris Rawnsley, NHBB’s director of safety, environment and sustainability.

“Our guidelines were and continue to be more restrictive than the CDC’s recommendations, but we created an environment for our employees where they felt safe to come to work,” said Rawnsley.

In recent weeks, as the state lifted some restrictions, those policies have been updated, but some remain in place, Rawnsley said.

“Many of our protocols have been lifted, including quarantine after domestic travel, temperature control and staggered entry / exit of shifts, but many remain,” Rawnsley said. “The social distancing and due diligence requirements for not coming to work when you’re feeling sick are still firmly in place. ”

Company employees were vaccinated at about the same rate as the rest of New Hampshire – about half – said Rawnsley. Vaccinated employees have been allowed to remove their masks when at their workstations or walking around the facility, but all employees, vaccinated or not, continue to wear masks when social distancing is not possible .

But LePage and Rawnsley have said all aspects of the COVID-19 protocol will not be abandoned as the situation tends to return to normal.

“One of the things that was a blessing in disguise, because with remote working we had to find out if it could work,” LePage said.

Meetings that would have taken place in person were often held remotely, and LePage said they would likely continue this practice in the future. Disinfection practices will also continue, as they take little time but result in a cleaner work environment, LePage said.

At New Hampshire Ball Bearings, the company has created “more robust” pandemic response procedures than before 2020, which will endure in their protocols, Rawnsley said.

You can reach Ashley Saari at 924-7172 ext. 244 or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.

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