Police check with manufacturing firms about worker safety due to COVID-19

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Dalton City Administrator Jason Parker told City Council members on Thursday that the police department has “followed up with our local manufacturing firms' safety managers” after questions were raised during the council's Wednesday meeting about worker safety due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Parker told council members that the police department reminded those officers that companies should help educate workers and managers about safety measures and make sure they are complying with the governor's orders on social distancing.

Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state say individuals should remain six feet apart.

Parker told council members the police department hopes to get a report back soon on those efforts.

The council is meeting each day to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the city.

In its meeting on Wednesday, council member Tyree Goodlett, who said he works for a carpet company, said he has heard from friends and relatives who work in the city’s carpet mills that social distancing isn’t being practiced, and he’s seen photos of employees crowded into break rooms.

“People are scared, and when I ran for (this position on the council) I wanted to be a voice for people,” he said. “That’s why I take this so seriously.”

On Thursday, council member Gary Crews asked how the city can make sure employers are enforcing social distancing measures.

“Mr. Parker, let's say somebody goes out and somebody's not being compliant, what would the process be? Would it be a citation? A warning? Or will there be remedial action?” he said.

Parker said right now the process is just a warning.

Parker said the city would make businesses aware of the requirements and give them the “opportunity to have a discussion” about those requirements.

Crews also asked Carpet and Rug Institute President Joe Yarbrough about the impact federal antitrust laws have on the carpet industry's ability to form a common set of guidelines regarding best safety practices in mills. Crews asked if there has been any change that would allow that sort of coordination.

“I haven't had a lot of feedback from a number of folks just yet,” said Yarbrough.

Yarbrough said he believed there has been some progress.

“But like a lot of things, it's taking some time to put people in touch with the right folks,” he said.

Yarbrough added that he believes local floorcovering factories are attempting to follow the COVID-19 guidelines but it is also up to “each individual employee” to take responsibility to follow those guidelines as well.

The council will meet each weekday at noon during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because City Hall and other city buildings are closed to the public as a precaution against spreading the disease, the daily meetings are broadcast on the city’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CityOfDalton. They can also be viewed on the video conferencing app Zoom.

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