SOCMA Safety Solutions and Core Considerations for Reintegrating Employees Back into the Workplace

In this post, SOCMA shares core considerations for developing return to work plans. The following information was compiled during a SOCMA roundtable discussion with DanChem, Strem Chemicals, Inc., and Sun Chemical Corporation. A template for a return to work plan is in development and will be available in the coming week.

May 8, 2020 – As Shelter-In-Place orders are lifted across the country, companies within the specialty chemical value chain are now seeking safe and effective measures to reintegrate employees who have been teleworking back into the workplace. While understanding that operations cannot resume as they once were, industry thought leaders shared the following measures for companies to consider as they resume full operations within their facilities. This is also a perfect opportunity to evaluate and improve upon processes moving forward.

Indication from the industry is clear, the move to reintegrate teams will not be rushed and companies are taking thoughtful and meticulous steps to keep the safety and health of employees at the core of those plans.

The measures listed below are broken down into two columns:

1. Goals your company may consider to ensure health and safety of employees.

2. Potential solutions and suggested actions your company can take to reach each goal.   

Core Consideration #1: Employee Safety & Concerns

Goal Solution + Action
Decrease employee fear, anxiety and uncertainty   Administrative Controls:
  • Empower a leadership team, COVID-19 task force or your HR dept. to ensure all federal guidelines are met and company policies reflect employee safety and health as priority.
  • Establish or utilize existing employee assistance programs (EAP).
  • Allow a special enrollment period for employees to receive health insurance.
  • Implement social distancing guidelines and ensure continued adherence.
  • Make readily available any company policies or guidelines to mitigate COVID-19 and other illnesses. 
  • Initiate a company travel policy and determine triggers for when to lift those restrictions.
  • Review and confirm that you have ample supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and establish a policy for your team.
  • Retain a local doctor if possible for access to health-related questions and information. 
Safely reintegrate staff onto work premises Utilize a Phased Approach:
  • Consider staggered shifts, work hours and departmental returns. (i.e. return of R&D, then admin, sales, etc.). 
  • Consider whether some teams can continue to telework for the foreseeable future.
  • Be prepared to proactively step back a phase if health data suggests the need to do so. 
Screening Requirements to Enter Onsite:
  • Require employee temperature screens (either at home or before entering the building).
  • Monitor contact tracing.
  • Utilize a questionnaire for assessing risk of employee activities while away from facility.  
  • Utilize antibody testing (if or when available).
  • Determine site visitor requirements.
  • Establish PPE requirements for all employees and visitors; have necessary PPE available.
Manage population density to ensure proper social distancing Limit Access to Onsite Locations:
  • Establish room occupancy limits for bathrooms, breakroom, lunchroom and changing areas – restrict entry to 1-2 people at a time. 

Limit In-person Interaction

  • Hold virtual meetings and training for employees.
  • Make forms and other information available online.
  • Hold virtual customer meetings and facility tours.
  • Establish virtual interview and onboarding processes.

Core Consideration #2: Workspace Safety Measures

Goal Solution + Action
Cleaning and Disinfectant Measures   Facility and workspace cleaning:
  • Establish cleaning guidelines and schedule. 
  • Acquire additional stock of cleaning supplies.
  • Hire external cleaning services.
Physical workspace modifications Office structures:
  • Modify open work areas and cubicle spaces to ensure social distancing requirements are met.
  • Further considerations may be necessary for non-chemical operations areas (administrative offices, labs, common areas such as break room).
  • Installation of new directional signage.  
Engineering Controls:
  • Optimize HVAC systems for optimal air filtration and makeup.
Human Flow Patterns
  • Install signage to ensure employees understand and follow flow patterns.
  • Provide markings on the floor to indicate 6-foot social distance requirements.

Core Consideration #3: Long-Term Impacts

Goal Solution + Action
Communicate, Educate, Protect
  • Maintain transparent communication with all employees.
  • Educate employees on COVID-19 changes, rules and regulations.
  • Develop a long-term system of tracking PPE inventory.
  • Maintain an active EAP program for employees to address long-term issues associated with COVID-19.
  • Remind employees that virus mitigation starts and ends at home and within their family circles. 

Conferences and
In-Person Meetings

  • Adhere to domestic and international travel restrictions, as well as internal company guidelines.
  • Establish safety protocol for employees attending external events.
  • SOCMA’s Lead Sheet and Capabilities Mapping Services offer solutions to the inability to meet safely face-to-face with customers and partners.
Virtual Processes

Training + Onboarding of Current and New Employees

  • Consider virtual training and onboarding of employees
  • SOCMA’s Chemical Operations Training Tool offers 24/7 access to ensure new and current employees receive training and education.
  • Implement and accelerate cross-training of employees to ensure coverage across all departments.


  • Auditing processes are becoming virtual. Contact our Compliance & Stewardship team today to learn more about preparing your personnel and updating technology. 

Download Resources

Webinar Archive
SOCMA hosted a roundtable discussion on May 5, 2020 with three SOCMA member companies, DanChem, Strem Chemicals, Inc and Sun Chemical Corporation. Speakers shared what their companies are doing to reintegrate teams and decisions that have been made along the way.


SOCMA Safety Solutions and Core Considerations for Reintegrating Employees Back into the Workplace
In this document, detailed measures are divided into two sections, goals your company may consider to ensure health and safety of employees, and potential solutions and suggested actions your company can take to reach each goal.

Additional Links

1. Return to Work Examples

2. Federal guidelines and regulatory requirements set forth in response to COVID-19 will begin to be pulled back. Companies must prepare to revert to requirements as they were prior to the pandemic. SOCMA has compiled comprehensive guidance materials to ensure proper preparation of changing requirements:

3. State mandated reporting and redistribution requirements for PPE.

4. CARES Act, as summarized on our website, affects all businesses, employees and hospitals.

5. Utilize signage to ensure maximum occupancy numbers are followed for each area. Download our template.

6. Template: This Employee Activity Questionnaire was developed by VanDeMark Chemical to assesses employee risk levels away from the work site.

DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY: This information was prepared by the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) and is disseminated for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not intended as legal guidance and does not create any legal relationship or responsibility between SOCMA and user. Nothing contained herein is intended to revoke or change the requirements or specifications of individual manufacturers or local, state and federal officials that have jurisdiction in your area. The user is responsible for assuring compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

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