The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) has compiled a set of recommendations for infection control in production, logistics and administration. We would like to pass this information on to our customers and partners. You can download current VDA publications here retrieve.
Recommendations for uniform standards for protection against infections with Covid-19.
The present recommendations on infection control in Production, logistics and administration are based on consultations and "lessons learned" by member companies in the VDA Production Committee. These recommendations are intended to serve the in-house implementation of protective measures and concretise the "SARS-CoV2 Occupational Health and Safety Standards" (as of April 2020) of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs using the example of the automotive industry. The recommendations are aimed at all VDA member companies and their partners in the supply chain. Before implementation in the companies, the respective social partners and company doctors must be involved.
Overview of protective measures
One of the essential prerequisites for the restart of the automotive industry is the protection of employees. The proposed measures pursue the goal of interrupting infection chains and protecting employees. Even if companies or activities are different (such as production and administration), some protective measures can be applied in principle.
Employees should be able to keep sufficient distance (at least 1.5 metres) from other employees. If this cannot be maintained, at least mouth-nose masks that can be reused should be used (Figure 1).
For the handling of reusable masks, the following is recommended (in addition to the specification of the RKI, see Annex 1):
- Basic requirements: Cotton or mixed material, preferably with a nose clip for a better fit and washable at at least 60° degrees.
- The personally assigned mouth-nose masks may not be passed on to other employees or to private persons.
- Compulsory safety instruction on the correct fitting/removal of masks (incl. illustration).
- The mouth-nose mask must not be worn for more than one working day.
- Put used mouth-nose mask in a separate, closed plastic bag, take it home and wash it there (washing instructions).
- Wash hands after removing and packing the mouth-nose mask
- If the mouth-nose mask is damaged after repeated washing, please replace the mouth-nose mask.
- Dispose of the nose mask in the household waste.
In addition to the use of a mouth-nose protection mask, protective devices can also be installed to separate the workplaces if the protective distance <1.5m is not given. In the case of office workplaces, free room capacities should be used optimally, if necessary, in order to avoid multiple occupancy of rooms or to increase the distances.
The following complementary or alternative protective measures are recommended (Figure 2):
In addition, the following extended measures are recommended to visitors and suppliers on the production plant premises: (In principle, all requirements apply, as they do for regular employees)
- Keep the number of external visitors as low as possible
- Protective measures are taken into account when instructing external companies
- No visitors from risk areas
- Counter top, contact/spit guard installed in loading office to restrict contact with truck drivers
- Necessary minimum distance in front of counters is visualised (e.g. with floor markings).
or barrier tape)
- Install washing facilities for visitors, drivers and staff at the gate, control centre, etc. or
Signpost existing washing facilities
In lifts, stairwells, canteens and break rooms, people come together in a very confined space and there is a high risk of infection. Therefore, special protective measures are recommended for this area:
- Maximum number of persons to be determined for each lift
- Keep your distance in the lift and avoid conversations
- Do not operate buttons in the lift with your hand, but with your elbow, cloth, etc.
- Use the staircase as an alternative to the lift (avoid lifts as far as possible).
- Signpost staircases in a clearly visible way
- Direct traffic in stairwells to maintain minimum distance
- Sufficient soap, towel dispensers are to be provided (the necessity of an area-wide use of disinfection dispensers is to be examined, taking into account the damaging effect on the skin and resulting non-use).
- Sufficient cleaning and hygiene is to be provided, if necessary the cleaning intervals are to be adjusted. This applies in particular to sanitary facilities and common rooms. Regular cleaning of door handles and handrails also contributes to the prevention of infections (if necessary, leave intermediate doors, doors of open-plan offices, staircases, etc. open).
- In break rooms and canteens, sufficient distance must be ensured, e.g. by not placing tables and chairs too close to each other. Care must be taken to ensure that the applicable distance regulations are observed when queuing. Time windows for canteen use in certain areas or instruction by authorised persons can be helpful in this respect. If necessary, canteen and food serving times should be extended.
Regular ventilation serves hygiene and promotes air quality, as the number of pathogens in the room air can increase in closed rooms. The risk of transmission via ventilation and air-conditioning systems can be classified as low overall. Switching off RLT is not recommended, as this can lead to an increase in the aerosol concentration in the room air and thus to an increase in the risk of infection.
In order to further reduce or exclude the risk of virus transmission through air-handling systems, it must be ensured that, as far as possible, no aerosols are transported via the air-handling system. Suitable measures for this must be decided on a company-specific basis.
Mobile work/ Home office
Work in a home office should be made possible, especially in open-plan offices with insufficient protective distances. Working in a home office requires a clear structure and self-organisation. Companies should define clear work processes, delineate work packages and clarify mutual expectations. Employees should ensure that they can be reached by phone or digitally during the agreed time periods.
Business trips and attendance events
Business trips and face-to-face events such as meetings are to be reduced to the absolute minimum and, alternatively, technical alternatives for online meetings such as telephone or video conferences are to be made available as far as possible. Meetings shall be conducted digitally where possible; where this is not possible, large rooms shall be used that allow sufficient distance between all participants:
- At least one seat (distance rule: 1.5 m) is to be left free between the participants, for this purpose chairs are to be removed or marked
- Meeting duration is kept as short as possible
- Maximum number of people in meeting rooms is set in advance and a notice is posted on the door
Additional organisational measures
- Fixed workplaces: in offices with free choice of place - if possible - assign fixed workplaces.
- Work equipment/tools: If possible, use hand tools according to the person. Where this is not possible, tools should be cleaned with a soap solution after use.
- Marking of protective distances: Where experience shows that there are queues of people (time registration, canteen, tool and material dispensing) mark protective distances of standing areas with adhesive tape.
- Organisation of working hours and breaks: Reduce the occupancy rate of work areas and shared facilities by taking measures to equalise time (staggered working hours and breaks, shift work if necessary).
- Storage and cleaning of work clothing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): Pay particular attention to the exclusive personal use of all personal protective equipment (PPE) and work clothing. Allow personal storage of work clothing and PPE separate from everyday clothing. Require that workwear is washed at least 60°C as often as possible. Disinfect and replace PPE regularly and frequently.
Additional personal measures
- Each employee cleans his or her personal work environment, keyboards, furniture, etc. at his or her individual workplace on his or her own initiative on a daily basis; for this purpose, cleaning agents are to be kept available in sufficient quantity and accessibility.
- Regular cleaning of offices, meeting rooms, kitchenettes, traffic routes, sanitary facilities, etc.
- Additional PPE: In the event of unavoidable contact with other persons or protective distances that cannot be maintained, additional personal protective equipment (mouth-nose protection,) must be made available and employees instructed to use it accordingly (depending on the supply situation).
- Instruction: Employer actively communicates with its employees. Protective measures are explained and instructions made comprehensible (also signs, floor markings, etc.). Attention must be drawn to compliance with personal and organisational hygiene rules (distance requirement, cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene, PPE).
Risk groups/ Individual occupational health advice
Preventive occupational health advice must be offered in particular for risk groups (older workers, people with previous illnesses, people with disabilities). Employees can receive individual advice from the company doctor, also on special risks due to a previous illness or an individual disposition. Fears and psychological stress should also be addressed. The company doctor knows the workplace and suggests suitable infection control measures to the employer if the normal occupational health and safety measures are not sufficient.
Appendix 1: (Source: Robert Koch Institute)
Status 13.03.2020 valid as long as the already declared emergency situation for this area is described, provisionally until 31 August 2020.
Possible measures for the resource-efficient use of mouth-nose protection (MNS) and FFP masks in health care facilities in the event of supply shortages in connection with the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19
Here the reuse of MNS and FFP2 and FFP3 masks.
As there may be a shortage of Mouth-Nose-Protection (MNS)1 and FFP22 masks, it is necessary to develop strategies for a more resource-efficient use of these masks or other personal protective equipment in order to maintain standard care/operations in health care facilities.
Appropriate guidance is provided below. The concrete implementation of the measures should be carried out after an expert risk assessment or risk evaluation by the employer on site, taking into account the local conditions and involving the hygiene specialist, the company medical service and, if necessary, in consultation with the competent health authority.
For the general treatment and care of patients with non-specific acute respiratory infections, an MNS is considered sufficient as a hygiene measure in this declared emergency situation, provided that both the ill person and the person treating or caring for the patient wear an MNS. At least FFP2 masks are required for the attending person during measures involving aerosol exposure.
Recommendation in case of supply shortages of MNS and FFP masks
The measures for the reuse of protective masks, which are described in accordance with Annex 7 No. 2 of TRBA250 and ABAS Resolution 609 for the case of a pandemic, can also be helpful in the current supply bottlenecks. The possibility of reusing FFP masks under certain conditions during a shift is equally given with MNS.
The reuse of FFP masks or MNS requires safe handling. Non-compliance increases the risk of infection for workers. Please note that the reuse measures described below should therefore only be applied to declared emergency situations when FFP masks and/or MNS are not available in sufficient numbers.
This recommendation has been prepared at the request of the Federal Ministry of Health by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in consultation with the Ad Hoc Working Group on SARS-CoV2 of the Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs:
- The use of MNS in surgical procedures is unchanged.
- Likewise, the MNS or FFP masks must be changed immediately in the event of (suspected) contamination or moisture penetration.
- In the case of MNS and FFP masks, patient-related reuse takes place during an
- Continued use of the MNS and FFP masks during a shift only by the same
- FFP respirators should NOT be reused after work on infectious patients with significant exposure to aerosols, e.g. bronchoscopy.
The outside of the used mask is potentially contaminated with pathogens and contamination of the wearer, especially in the face (nose, mouth, eyes), must be avoided when the mask is put on again. Therefore, the wearer must be instructed in the special measures for reusing used masks.
When reusing, it must be ensured that
- the mask/MNS must be removed in such a way that contamination of the mask/MNS (especially the inside) or contamination of the face is prevented, e.g. by prior glove disinfection or appropriate glove management (e.g. multiple gloves).
- After the mask/MNS has been removed, it should be stored in a dry place in the open air (not in closed containers!) and temporarily stored so that contamination of the inside of the mask/MNS but also carry-over to other surfaces is avoided.
- A demarcated area shall be defined to provide a secure storage facility for the mask/MNS that is not accessible to the public, so that it can be reused.
- the gloves are to be disposed of properly after storing the masks and the hands are to be disinfected
- the used mask/MNS can be clearly assigned to one person in order to exclude wearing by other persons (e.g. marking of the masks on the retaining strap).
- Do not clean or disinfect used disposable FFP masks/MNS with disinfectant as this may negatively affect the functionality of the mask.
- when putting on the MNS/mask again, care must be taken to prevent the pathogens from spreading from the contaminated outer surface to the inner surface. Touching the inside of the filter fleece must therefore be avoided.
- hygienic, unused gloves are to be worn when putting on gloves again and the gloves are to be disposed of before contact with the patient again
- Masks/MNS whose inner surface may have been contaminated by handling errors must not be used.
- the place where the intermediate storage took place must be properly disinfected immediately after removal of the mask/MNS
- The use of reusable respirators with replaceable particle filters is another alternative for resource conservation
1 In the context of this recommendation, MNS refers to: multi-layer, close-fitting mouth/nose protection.
2 To address the current crisis situation regarding the containment of COVID-19, MNS and FFP masks that are marketable in the United States of America, Canada, Australia or Japan may also be considered marketable in Germany, even if they do not bear a CE/NE marking. For more information, please contact your competent market surveillance authority.
Source: Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V. (VDA), Behrenstraße 35, 10117 Berlin, www.vda.de
Disclaimer: The VDA recommendations are recommendations that everyone is free to apply. Anyone who uses them must ensure that they are applied correctly in the specific case.
They take into account the state of the art at the time of the respective edition. By applying the VDA recommendations, no one escapes responsibility for their own actions. In this respect, everyone acts at their own risk. Liability of the VDA and those involved in the VDA recommendations is excluded. Should you come across any inaccuracies or the possibility of incorrect interpretation when applying the VDA Recommendations, please inform the VDA immediately so that any deficiencies can be rectified.