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Changing work spaces to protect employees during COVID-19

Dem-Con Companies demonstrates how to keep employees safe while remaining operational



While many businesses are preparing COVID-19 return-to-work plans, others had to make drastic changes in real time. Shakopee-based Dem-Con Companies was declared essential from the onset of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order and had to quickly adapt its operations in order to keep employees safe. 

Dem-Con Companies is a third-generation family owned company that has been servicing the Minnesota communities for 55 years. Working in the waste and recycling industry, Dem-Con was among a number of businesses deemed essential to remain open throughout COVID-19. 

“Our primary concern was to ensure the health and safety of our employees while maintaining operations,” says Dem-Con president Bill Keegan.

Socially distanced meeting
A socially distanced, outdoor meeting at Dem-Con Companies


Dem-Con quickly instituted workplace distancing and employee and facility hygiene measures to protect employees. Some of the changes include:

  • Requiring social distancing on processing line.
  • Requiring cloth face coverings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Cleaning, disinfecting and decontaminating the facility surfaces multiple times per day.
  • Reducing the amount of manual labor on specific lines to enable social distancing. Running a bit slower, but longer and continuous. 
  • Holding meetings in outdoor spaces.
  • Restricting or eliminating use of common shared items and spaces like refrigerators, microwaves, time clocks and equipment.
  • Adding additional break rooms, splitting shift breaks, dedicated work areas and equipment
  • Restricted visitor and vendor access to all facilities 
  • Developed guidance documents and training programs to address COVID related operational changes

Creating a safe work environment from day one wasn’t easy for Dem-Con. But their example of putting employees first and implementing a COVID-19 safety plan shows how businesses can operate safely.