CDC: COVID-19 Guidance for Manufacturing Industries

Exposure risk among manufacturing workers

The manufacturing work environment—production or assembly lines and other areas in busy plants where workers have close contact with coworkers and supervisors—may contribute substantially to workers’ potential exposures. The risk of occupational transmission of SARS-CoV-2 depends on several factors. Some of these factors are described in the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of and Health and Human Services’ booklet Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19pdf iconexternal icon. Distinctive factors that affect workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in manufacturing workplaces include:

  • Distance between workers – Manufacturing workers often work close to one another on production or assembly lines. Workers may also be near one another at other times, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks, or in locker/changing rooms.

  • Duration of contact – Manufacturing workers often have prolonged closeness to coworkers (e.g., for 8–12 hours per shift). Continued contact with potentially infectious individuals increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

  • Type of contact – Manufacturing workers may be exposed to the infectious virus through respiratory droplets in the air—for example, when workers in a plant who have the virus cough or sneeze. It is also possible that exposure could occur from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as tools, workstations, or break room tables. Shared spaces such as break rooms, locker rooms, and entrances/exits to the facility may contribute to their risk.

  • Other distinctive factors that may increase risk among these workers include:

    • A common practice at some workplaces of sharing transportation such as ride-share vans or shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation

    • Frequent contact with fellow workers in community settings in areas where there is ongoing community transmission

Create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan

A qualified workplace coordinator should be identified who will be responsible for COVID-19 assessment and control planning. All workers in the facility should know how to contact the identified coordinator with any COVID-19 concerns. Infection control and occupational safety and health plans should apply to anyone entering or working in the plant (e.g., all facility workers, contractors, and others). Facility management should reach out to state and/or local public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals and establish ongoing communications to make sure they are getting relevant and up-to-date information concerning COVID-19. The workplace coordinators and management should also be aware of and follow all applicable federal regulations and public health agency guidelines. Work site assessments to identify COVID-19 risks and prevention strategies should be done periodically as part of sound occupational health and public health practice. As part of these assessments, facilities should consider the appropriate role for testing and workplace contact tracing (identifying person-to-person spread) of COVID-19 workers who tested positive in a work site risk assessment, following available CDC guidance.


Worker infection prevention recommendations are based on an approach known as the hierarchy of controls. This approach groups actions by their effectiveness in reducing or removing hazards. In most cases, the preferred approach is to:

  1. Eliminate a hazard or processes;

  2. Install engineering controls; and

  3. Implement appropriate cleaning, sanitation, and disinfection practices to reduce exposure or shield workers.

Administrative controls, which are changes to the way people work, are also an important part of an approach to prevention in these workplaces.