Ford: Safety is ‘priority one’ in preparation for manufacturing restart amid pandemic

No North American restart date announced

Ford Safety Protocol at European plant
Ford Safety Protocol at European plant (Ford)

DETROITFord outlined its global health and safety protocols Thursday as it phases in the restart of its global plants amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The automaker said it is working to safely restart manufacturing in the U.S. and North America. Ford already has 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.

There is still no date for restarting plants in North America.

Here’s what Ford is saying about restarting plants with safety protocols:

"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, 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."

Ford says 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.
  • Rquired 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,” said 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.”

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Rory Gamble released the following statement on Ford’s protocols:

“We continue to engage in talks with Ford on an ongoing basis regarding protocols for the health and safety of our members in the workplace. The UAW is asking for as much testing as is possible to prevent exposure to the virus. That said, we also understand that the availability and accuracy of tests are fluid, developing issues as we navigate this crisis. Our position is that we employ as much testing as is possible at the current time and commit to full testing as soon as it is available. We are also strongly advocating self-reporting and testing for those exposed to the virus or exhibiting symptoms at a minimum, and a stringent adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.At the present time there is no restart date.”

Related: Ford produces 10 million face shields for health care workers

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