Prioritising hygiene for business resilience: enabling safe return to work for global supply chain employees in the face of COVID-19

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Akhi received hygiene training lead by WaterAid at the readymade garment (RMG) factory where she works and now has a thorough understanding of good personal hygiene and handwashing practices. Narayanganj, Bangladesh, 2019.
Image: WaterAid/MR Hasan

During the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chains have experienced extreme disruption as a result of enforced lockdowns aimed at preventing infection transmission. As supply chain workplaces reopen, a robust and tailored water, sanitation – and, critically – hygiene (WASH) action plan is vital to protect workforce health and allow a return to operation, thereby ensuring financial resilience and long-term business continuity. 

Why is a tailored supply chain response critical?

Workers employed in the field and factory settings of global supply chains are at increased risk of infection, working in interdisciplinary groups on high-touch surfaces in spaces scaling from confined to expansive. Predominantly located in densely populated countries with poor WASH infrastructure, abiding by physical distancing in their work or community environment and by handwashing recommendations is a daily challenge. These measures are the first and only line of defence against coronavirus transmission, in the absence of a vaccine. Global businesses must take proactive action in their supply chains – owned and operated as well as with tiered suppliers – and the surrounding communities in which workers live, to mitigate further health and economic risk. 

What is the guidance and who is it for?

Aimed at a business audience, the guidance explains the interdependent nature of workforce health and business resilience, never more critical than in the face of COVID-19. In it we suggest an action plan for companies with global supply chains to develop and implement a return to work strategy relevant to their supply chain. This includes the development of materials that promote hygiene awareness among workers. 

A poster illustrating behaviours such as hygiene and physical distancing that will reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for workers in factory and field settings.
A poster illustrating behaviours that will reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for workers in factory and field settings.
Image: WaterAid

What can you do?

Consider implications of the pandemic for your workforce and operations that underpin your business in the return to work phase and reinforce WASH mechanisms to mitigate further risk. 

With four decades of global WASH expertise, and now as a partner of global governments in their fight against COVID-19, we are uniquely positioned to support the private sector to build long-term resilience through the implementation of business-critical and people-critical hygiene plans.

Download the guidance and email us to discuss bespoke WASH action tailored to your business.