10 Ways We Are Protecting Our Employees during COVID-19

At Materialise, people come first. Without the thousands of people working hard to further our mission to create a better and healthier world, we would not be able to help 50,000 patients every year and 3D print over 1.25 million parts a year for industries as wide as aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, and many more.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we put strict measures in place to keep our employees safe. We would like to share our internal policies to inspire others to think about the daily interactions we have in the workplace and ways to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

1. Everyone who can work from home, must work from home. Many of the functions within Materialise can be done remotely, including positions within marketing, human resources, sales, and others. These employees are split up into two different groups, and if it is necessary for them to come into the office, they can only do so on specific days that they have been assigned to. This way if someone is unknowingly carrying the virus, there will be enough time for the germs within their workspace to be disinfected before tomorrow’s group comes in.

2. Virtual reception desk. Our receptionists are also able to work remotely as we are not accepting visitors at the moment. They are able to answer phone calls remotely and seamlessly transfer to our employees, wherever they are working.

3. 3D-printed clips to make cloth face masks for non-medical use. Many are turning to cloth face masks in attempts to stop the spread of COVID-19 without putting more strain on the supply of medical-grade face masks for healthcare workers. Designed by our partner EDAG, we’ve 3D-printed clips for each of our employees to turn just about any type of fabric into a face mask. The clips are reusable, so that the fabric can be changed easily and regularly. 

4.  Face shields. There are unavoidable situations where people come into close contact with one another. For these cases and with the help of 3D printing, we are not using the supply of face masks for the hospital, but are able to provide additional protection when needed for our employees. The 3D-printed band, designed by our partner Prusa, can hold a replaceable, thick plastic sheet as an extra layer of protection. The adjustable strap makes it simple to fit comfortably on anyone.

5. Strict zones for employees who must be on-site. As we have a factory on-site, many of our daily activities cannot be done remotely. For the employees working on the production floor, we have split the building up into zones to protect their health including break areas, entrances, changing rooms, and bathrooms. This means that employees will only come in contact with people within the same zone, and if someone contracts the virus it will not be spread to the rest of the employees on-site.

6. Hands-free door openers. Within the Materialise buildings, we installed hands-free door openers, as door handles are some of the most germ-infested objects in the building. We have made the design available for all to download and print locally to help others also put this measure in place.

7. One workbench per employee. Each employee has their own workbench that only they can use — no exceptions. Even from one shift to another, a different worker is not allowed to use someone else’s space.

8. Disinfect spaces between shifts. In between shifts, we have also implemented a break to give time to disinfect the common spaces within the zones.

9. Avoid touching handrails and disinfect regularly. In addition to avoiding touching door handles, we have put up caution tape on the handrails in the stairways to remind people to only touch them if necessary for safety reasons. With this being said, we are still disinfecting regularly so these safety features are as germ-free as possible.

10. Badge-holders with extra features to avoid using bare hands for commonly used objects. We have had 3D-printed badge holders for years, and now we’ve upgraded them with a small feature to be able to open cupboards and continue other daily movements without having to use your hands. The idea behind this is that there is a lower risk of people spreading germs between each other before cleaning teams have a chance to come through to disinfect these frequently used spaces. These are also available on our website for others to put into use as well!

Discover these and more tips and tricks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace in our video.