Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn today outlined its global health and safety protocols, sharing how best practices and input from around the world are helping to protect its workforce, dealers, customers, and suppliers as it phases in the restart of its global plants following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The standards and precautions introduced expand on those used in Ford facilities in China, where work already has resumed, and in the U.S., where Ford has been manufacturing medical equipment for weeks. The people building those medical supplies are wearing face masks, face shields, and other personal protection equipment, and maintaining at least 6 feet of space from other people wherever possible.
“We’ve been working intently on how to restart our operations and safely bring back our employees, and we’re ready,” says Jim Farley, COO of Ford. “We have gone through and trialed these processes. We’re abiding by our first principles, and we are working with our union and government partners to restart. Getting back to work isn’t just good news for Ford employees. It’s also good news for our suppliers, car dealers, and the ecosystems that provide services around them, like restaurants, shops, and stores. This economic multiplier effect is going to help reboot communities around the globe.”
The automotive industry accounts for 6 percent of gross domestic product in the U.S. – more than 7 million jobs are dependent upon automakers, dealers, and suppliers.
No automaker employs more hourly workers in the U.S. than Ford, which manufactures and exports more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker. Last year, Ford built more than 492,000 more vehicles in America than the next highest-producing automaker.
Ford is working to safely restart manufacturing in the U.S. and North America. The company recently announced plans to begin that process in Europe on May 4, and a small number of hourly and salaried employees returned to work this week in North America to begin installing equipment and putting in place new safety protocols.
Ford already has started educating its global workforce to seamlessly integrate and follow these guidelines, all captured in a safety playbook that will be available for employees along with personal protection and hygiene items, like masks and sanitizer.
While exact return-to work-dates for most hourly and salaried workers have not been determined, educating them now will enable them to return to work as safely as possible.
“The health and safety of our employees has been – and remains – our top priority as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Kiersten Robinson, chief human resources officer at Ford. “We are taking extensive measures that apply best practices from around the world to make sure all of our facilities and workplaces will be safe, clean, and secure for when we return to work on-site. Every team member will play a role in protecting themselves and their colleagues as Ford reopens facilities around the world.”
The plan to return to work will continue to be updated with input from global medical experts. Those experts include an external epidemiologist and infectious disease experts, Ford’s global data insight and analytics team, and the UAW, in addition to employing best-practices recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, among others.
Reopening safety protocols include scheduling more time between production shifts to limit interaction between employees and allow for additional cleaning. Workspaces have been modified where possible to allow for social distancing, and all Ford people – hourly and salaried employees – will receive personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn inside Ford facilities.
Supervisors are being instructed to have salaried employees work according to specific schedules to prevent unnecessary contact. Cafeterias, small meeting rooms, fitness centers, and other small common areas where social distancing is not possible will remain closed.
Safety actions include:
- Daily online health self-certifications completed before work every day. Employees or visitors who indicate they may have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus will be told not to come to work.
- No-touch temperature scans upon arrival. Anyone with a raised temperature will not be permitted to enter and will be instructed to visit a physician to be cleared before returning to work.
- Required face masks for everyone entering a Ford facility. Every Ford team member will be provided a care kit including a face mask and other items to help keep them healthy and comfortable at work.
- Safety glasses with side shields or face shields as added requirements when jobs don’t allow for social distancing. Ford is evaluating workstations and work patterns and will implement other measures that protect workers whose jobs are typically performed within 6 feet of another person.
- Facilities that have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and will be cleaned with increased frequency when they reopen.
- Hand sanitation stations throughout Ford facilities and CDC signs with proper handwashing methods in all restrooms.
- A comprehensive playbook with procedures and protocols that detail how the Ford team will work together to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
“Science and data are driving Ford’s return to work, including close collaboration with experts in the field of infectious disease and epidemiology, to set safety standards we are confident will protect employees as they return to work,” says Dr. Walter Talamonti, corporate medical director at Ford. “The protocols we’ve established will require employees take multiple steps every day to make sure that they are safe, healthy, and able to work.”
Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer for Ford, adds, “These protocols are the result of weeks of working closely with our unions, especially the UAW, on assuring the health and safety of our Ford family while planning how to reopen our facilities. We have evidence that these protocols work and are already using them without a single issue to date in Ford plants where we are manufacturing ventilators and PPE for medical personnel.”
“We continue to work toward the safest protocols available for the safety of our members, their families and their communities,” says Gerald Kariem, vice president and director of the UAW Ford Department. “Our biggest concern is the health and safety of our UAW membership. We are encouraged by the results thus far of the safety protocols being instituted at the plants making medical equipment and in plans to implement these safeguards when it is safe for our members to report for work. We also recognize that we all have a role in self-reporting any exposure without repercussions and in following through on implementing these protections.”
Ford also is assisting dealers as they prepare to re-open their showrooms. Among other initiatives, the company is supplying U.S. dealerships with staff and customer PPE, such as masks and hand sanitizer. Ford is producing some equipment and sourcing other items in bulk quantities to help expedite deliveries to dealers.