NAM Issues Guidance Statement, Joins CDC in Advocating for Masks
Standard operating procedure has been anything but standard during the coronavirus pandemic — including how to handle the virus in factories. While many manufacturers have developed policies to prevent transmission and keep infection rates low, there is no industry-wide standard for mask usage. And although we’re unlikely to see standard policy on masks with the current glaring lack of federal guidance, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has come out with a statement in favor of masks.
The following is an excerpt from the joint statement issued by Trane Technologies Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach; Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Vice Chair Jim Fitterling; BTE Technologies President and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Chair Chuck Wetherington; and Protolabs President and CEO and SMM Vice Chair Vicki Holt.
“We will continue to set the right example by practicing the guidance outlined by the CDC and other medical experts. That’s why we encourage all Americans to wear a mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings, use contact tracing, and quarantine for 14 days if there is direct exposure to the virus, especially when one is tested positive. We are on the front lines of rebuilding our economy, but we cannot do so until we defeat COVID-19, and we cannot defeat COVID-19 if we fail to protect each other.”
Though simple, this statement is a powerful one. NAM is one of the leading voices within the manufacturing industry and a steward for best practices. This guidance on masks — which mirrors CDC recommendations — unofficially sets the standard for masking policies in factories across the country. This, at a time when COVID-19 cases in America’s manufacturing heartland are on the rise.
NAM’s statement on mask usage is part of a broader COVID-19 initiative by the organization. Earlier this year, NAM launched its Creators Respond Commitment: a pledge by manufacturers to commit to safer work standards during COVID-19. The commitment is not only an important step toward standardizing workplace safety during the pandemic, but also a call to “commit to healthy behaviors like the use of face coverings, social distancing, handwashing and other health practices.”
In lieu of federal guidelines and actionable steps for manufacturing — which is recognized as an essential industry — the U.S. government is collaborating with NAM to delegate the task of a COVID-19 response. As a result, NAM launched its American Renewal Action Plan in April. The plan is a point-by-point approach to manufacturing recovery, from supply chain strengthening to back-to-work strategies for manufacturing employees.
NAM’s guidance and vocal authority during the pandemic has served as a steadfast standard for many manufacturers. The organization’s most recent call to action for producers to mandate a mask policy within their facilities is another strong signal of leadership — and a call that domestic manufacturers are likely to abide by.
Manufacturing has received criticism for factory outbreaks since the beginning of the pandemic. However, producers face unique challenges that make it difficult to prevent and control transmission of the virus. NAM’s guidance on masks may be a catalyst for better practices and controls, leading to fewer cases, outbreaks, and hotspots. As manufacturing looks to strengthen and come out of the pandemic strong, better guidance on mask usage will be an essential step toward that future.