Auburn Hills-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has developed and implemented a program of enhanced safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at its plants in preparation to reopen its North American manufacturing operations on Monday, May 18.
“Above everything else, our top priority has always been to do what is right for our employees,” says Mike Manley, CEO of FCA. “We have worked closely with the unions to establish protocols that will ensure our employees feel safe at work and that every step possible has been taken to protect them.
“We have drawn on our collective global expertise and best practices to rethink our production processes to put in place comprehensive protocols to keep our workforce safe. There is no question that coming to work will look and feel different. I have now visited several of our Detroit-area facilities, met with our teams, and walked the floor. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all of our colleagues who have done an incredible job putting in place safety protocols to protect our people. Thank you all.”
Since closing its plants in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico on March 18, FCA has been working to put in place best practices that enabled the restart of operations at its facilities in China and Italy. The company is following guidelines from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It mailed return to work information packages to nearly 47,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada, and workers in Mexico will receive the same information through in-person training.
Protocols at the plants include cleaning, disinfecting, and social distancing. All employees and visitors will be asked to complete a daily health risk assessment, which consists of taking their temperatures less than two hours before reporting to work or visiting the site with either a company-provided temperature strip or a personal thermometer, and completing a self-screening questionnaire and turning it in upon entry.
The company is installing thermal imaging cameras to verify what employees and visitors have reported.
Employees will be required to wear company-provided masks and safety glasses at all times and asked to wear gloves and safety glasses when applying or cleaning with disinfecting spray. Visitors and contractors to any FCA facility will be required to provide their own personal protection equipment for entry.
Increased daily cleaning and disinfecting will begin with the restart of production, especially in high-traffic areas and on common touchpoints. Each shift, 10 minutes will be dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting employee workstations.
Signage promoting health and safety has been posted throughout all facilities, and employees will participate in small-group training sessions on the new policies and procedures as part of their first day activities.
During the manufacturing shutdown, FCA completed cleaning and social distancing measures in preparation for when operations resume. More than 57 million square feet of manufacturing floor space were cleaned and disinfected, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting schedules were developed for common and high traffic areas, including turnstiles, restrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, and conference rooms. The company distributed 135 hand-held foggers distributed for more efficient cleaning of these areas and provided cleaning supplies at all workstations so surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected. More than 2,000 hand sanitizer stations were installed across all facilities, and daily audits were conducted to ensure new standards are being followed.
More than 17,000 workstations were analyzed and evaluated for adherence to 6-foot social distancing guidelines, and more than 4,700 job areas and workstations were redesigned or had protective barriers installed. The company added plexiglass partitions and created visual management guides for social distancing in break areas and cafeterias, as well as throughout all buildings. Staggered start times and added time to breaks and lunch are designed to minimize large gatherings, and meetings of more than eight employees at a time are suspended. Meetings will be virtual whenever possible. New approval protocols are in place for facility visitors.
“We have taken a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach to mitigating the spread of this virus by implementing lots of layers of protection,” says Scott Garberding, global chief manufacturing officer. “You are a key part of successfully resuming operations. In this new environment, we all need to take responsibility for our own safety and that of the people around us. An effective start-up will require detailed understanding, teaching, coaching, and patience from all of us.”
FCA plans to continue to monitor and audit conditions at all facilities and stay up to date with information from federal and state agencies to implement new safeguards and procedures as needed.
Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. and Detroit’s General Motors Co. also plan to reopen their North American manufacturing operations on Monday.