Risk Management Article

Maria Watson’s picture

By: Maria Watson

The U.S. government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. But early reports suggested larger companies were gobbling up much of the aid, while many of the neediest ones—particularly those with only a few dozen employees—weren’t benefiting.

Very small businesses, particularly those operating on small profit margins, are especially vulnerable because they may not have the cash reserves to weather periods of economic uncertainty and typically have fewer ways to access financing. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that one in four U.S. businesses is two months away from permanently shutting down.

Anne Trafton’s picture

By: Anne Trafton

When MIT announced in March 2020 that most research labs on campus would need to ramp down to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, Canan Dagdeviren’s lab was ready.

For the past two years, Dagdeviren and her lab manager, David Sadat, have run the Conformable Decoders Group using “lean lab” management principles, working closely with MIT’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Office. Every item in their lab has an assigned function and location, and there are strict procedures in place describing how everything is to be used, put away, and replenished. As a result, it took the lab just 15 minutes to close down operations on March 13, 2020.

“Given that everyone in our lab is very well-trained with these checklists, everyone took care of their own experiments and the tools that they use,” says Dagdeviren, an assistant professor in MIT’s Media Lab. “I was then able to spend the rest of the time before the campus shutdown communicating with my students, motivating them, and preparing them mentally for this upcoming period of time.”

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Around the world, local agencies and institutions have scrambled to find personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their essential employees from Covid-19. Not just healthcare workers, but also the men and women who to work to keep our cities and counties up and running, from emergency responders to maintenance workers.

Told by President Trump to fend for themselves, states that couldn’t find local PPE sources have signed contracts directly with overseas manufacturers or distributors claiming to represent them. Given the problems of getting it themselves or competing with the federal government for the same supplies, governors of seven Eastern states even agreed to work together on purchasing medical equipment.

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

It’s easy to assume that something as simple as a mask wouldn’t pose much of a risk. Essentially, it’s just a covering that goes over your nose and mouth.

But masks are more than just stitched-together cloth. Medical-grade masks use multiple layers of nonwoven material, usually polypropylene, designed to meet specific standards for how big and how many particles they can block. And they are tested and certified to determine how well they do that job.

Healthcare and other frontline workers usually use either a surgical mask or an N95 mask. Both protect the patient from the wearer’s respiratory emissions. But where surgical masks provide the wearer protection against large droplets, splashes, or sprays of bodily or other hazardous fluids, an N95 mask is designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of submicron airborne particles.

The “N95” (or “KN95”) designation means that the respirator blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks.

Hari Abburi’s picture

By: Hari Abburi

If there’s one thing the global business community is learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s the outright imperative for companies to be agile “from top to bottom.” This lesson continues to ebb, flow, and unfold daily, wreaking having on bottom lines in every corner of the world.

In fact, agility is rapidly establishing itself as “the great equalizer,” asserting its unbridled authority over which companies—from global conglomerates to mom-and-pops, and everything in between—will survive another day. Although business agility has always been a key driver and benchmark of successful operations, now more than ever it’s clear that a business’s ability to rapidly (and accurately) assess a situation and then pivot quickly and with relative ease in response can be a deal breaker in the most profound sense. For many companies, this lack of agility on not just one but multiple levels of the operation means the literal end of the road.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

So many companies are shifting their employees to working from home to address the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Yet they’re not considering the potential quality disasters that can occur as a result of this transition.

An example of this is what one of my coaching clients experienced more than a year before the pandemic hit. Myron is the risk and quality management executive in a medical services company with about 600 employees. He was one of the leaders tasked by his company’s senior management team with shifting the company’s employees to a work-from-home setup, due to rising rents on their office building.

Specifically, Myron led the team that managed risk and quality issues associated with the transition for all 600 employees to telework, due to his previous experience in helping small teams of three to six people in the company transition to working from home in the past. The much larger number of people who had many more diverse roles they had to assist now was proving to be a challenge. So was the short amount of time available to this project, which was only four weeks, and resulted from a failure in negotiation with the landlord of the office building.

Greg Hoeting’s picture

By: Greg Hoeting

Nuclear power has long been a clean, dependable source of energy throughout the world. However, as power plants age, concerns grow about their continued reliability. Many components make up the infrastructure of a nuclear power plant with the design intent to reduce radiation and contamination exposure to personnel, equipment, and the surrounding environment.

One of the biggest sources of this radiation and contamination comes from the vast network of pipes throughout the plant.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

Long stretches of empty supermarket shelves and shortages of essential supplies are only the visible impacts to consumers of the global supply-chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unseen are the production stoppages in locations across China and other countries and the shortages of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished goods that make up the backstory of the impact.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak is unprecedented in its scale and severity for humans and supply chains, not to mention medical professionals and governments scrambling to contain it.

Businesses dependent on global sourcing are facing hard choices in crisis management amid the supply chain disruptions. But in planning to mitigate the risks of similar disruptions in future, they confront other questions that have no easy answers: Should they broaden their supplier choices, or do more local or near-shore sourcing? How much inventory of raw materials, subassemblies, and finished products should they stock to tide over the crisis?

Multiple Authors
By: Alan Rudolph, Raymond Goodrich

We [Alan Rudolph and Raymond Goodrich] are both biotechnology researchers and are currently seeking to repurpose an existing medical manufacturing platform to quickly develop a vaccine candidate for Covid-19.

This process is used for the treatment of blood products such as plasma, platelets, and whole blood to prevent disease transmission when people receive transfused blood. It utilizes a common food ingredient, vitamin B2, or riboflavin, which is a light-sensitive chemical. When used in combination with ultraviolet light of specific wavelengths, B2 can alter genetic material, whether RNA or DNA, of infectious pathogens in the blood, making them unable to transmit disease.

Those genetic changes prevent pathogens, such as viral, bacterial, and parasitic contaminants, in blood from replicating. By stopping the replication process, the method protects people from disease they could acquire through a blood transfusion.

Jason Chester’s picture

By: Jason Chester

Even in the midst of the pandemic, product safety and quality remain critical. For many manufacturers, complex quality management systems and procedures stand in the way of agile responses and effective operational optimization. Cloud technology provides the means to dramatically simplify quality management.

If you’re like many quality pros and manufacturing leaders right now, you’re working crazy hours, possibly on a different schedule or from a remote location. You’re struggling to find new ways to get the data that operators are collecting on the plant floor and support workers as they adapt to rapidly changing demands. You’re also likely scrambling to coordinate with your plant managers and create custom reports for your executive teams.

It’s a challenging time, and if you’re lucky, you’re keeping on top of the unique demands this time has put on you. But even in the middle of this sprint, product safety and quality remain paramount.

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