Clothing Manufacturing – Protecting Our Workers in a Time of COVID
By Anita Sidhu
The fashion industry has been hit hard with the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic. With widespread lockdowns, workers in the industry faced great hardships and uncertainty.
With the added burden of mass cancellations from Brands trying to salvage their businesses, and an inability to complete orders that were still wanted, clothing manufacturers in and around India suddenly faced the additional burden of figuring out how to protect their workers.
We were no different.
While we were eager to get our nearly 1000 employees back to work and ease the financial burden we as a company and family faced, we also wanted to reopen in a way that was safe for our workers – some of whom have been with our family for decades.
We took the time during our lockdown to make some investments to ensure that our workers felt safe when our doors opened again. Since India is a poor nation and medical treatment expensive and not always attainable, we took it upon ourselves to help our staff identify whether or not they were high risk. Under the guidelines we were given, we hired a nursing staff to screen our workers for diabetes and high blood pressure. Those that were high risk were educated on heath options and given a choice to work from home, to take paid leave or vacation time or to be re-assigned to an area with fewer workers.
Additionally we hired staffing to ensure every worker is checked for a fever upon entry into the factory. If anyone feels ill but is not feverish, we offer the option of seeing the nursing staff to have their oxygen levels evaluated.
We made investments in:
- Educating our staff on the importance of hand washing, distancing and the correct manner to wear a mask
- Hand sanitizing machines and have ensured all staff areas have access to them on every floor
- Face shields, masks and gloves and re-arranged the facility to ensure distance between workers
- Lunch tables and rearranged the cafeteria so workers could comfortably eat while safely at a distance
- Ventilation systems that allow for pressurized fresh air to be ventilated throughout the factory
- Sanitization sprays and staff who disinfect both the inside and the outside of our factory daily
Lastly, we increased the number of shifts and reduced the number of workers staffed to minimize the amount of exposure.
While we are not perfect and will continue to think of new and innovative ways to protect ourselves and our staff, we are doing our best to step up during this time of crisis.
We will listen, we will learn, we will educate and we will protect.