Employee Health and Safety a Priority as FCA Prepares to Restart North American Production
AUBURN HILLS, MI—As Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) prepares to resume its North American manufacturing operations, the company is implementing a comprehensive program of enhanced safety measures to protect employees, their families and the surrounding communities from the spread and transmission of COVID-19 when the plants reopen.
“Above everything else, our top priority has always been to do what is right for our employees,” Mike Manley, FCA CEO, says. “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,” Manley adds. “There is no question that coming to work will look and feel different.”
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 have enabled the restart of operations at its facilities in China and Italy. Aligned with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), these protocols—along with the actions employees will be required to take to safeguard themselves and others—were communicated as part of a return-to-work package mailed to nearly 47,000 U.S. and Canadian represented employees. Mexico will share the same information through in-person training.
FCA is implementing layers of protection to combat the spread and transmission of COVID-19. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and social distancing. With that in mind, FCA will require its employees and visitors to complete a daily health risk assessment, which consists of:
- Taking their temperature less than two hours before reporting to work or visiting the site with either a company-provided temperature strip or personal thermometer.
- Completing a self-screening questionnaire and turning it in upon entry.
As an added measure of safety, the company is installing thermal imaging cameras to verify what employees and visitors have self-reported.
Consistent with the direction of governmental agencies, employees will be required to wear company-provided masks and safety glasses at all times when in the facility. Employees will also be asked to wear gloves and safety glasses when applying or cleaning with disinfectant spray. Visitors and contractors to any FCA facility will be required to provide their own personal protection equipment for entry.
During the production pause, FCA completed a significant number of cleaning and social distancing activities to prepare its facilities for when operations resume.
Cleaning activities include:
- Cleaning and disinfecting more than 57 million square feet of manufacturing floor space.
- Developing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting schedules for common and high-traffic areas, including turnstiles, restrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms and conference rooms.
- Distributing 135 handheld foggers for more efficient cleaning of these areas.
- Providing cleaning supplies at all workstations so surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected.
- Installing more than 2,000 hand sanitizer stations across all facilities.
- Scheduling daily audits to ensure new standards are followed.
Social distancing activities include:
- Evaluating more than 17,000 workstations for adherence to six-foot social distancing guidelines.
- Redesigning more than 4,700 job areas and workstations and installing protective barriers to allow for more social distancing.
- Installing plexiglass partitions and creating visual management guides for social distancing in break areas and cafeterias, as well as throughout all buildings.
- Staggering start times and adding time to breaks and lunch to minimize large gatherings.
- Suspending meetings of more than eight employees at a time and transitioned to virtual meetings, wherever possible.
- Putting new approval protocols in place for facility visitors.
Upon the restart of production, FCA is adopting a new level of daily cleaning and disinfecting, in accordance with WHO, CDC and OSHA recommendations, at all manufacturing locations to maintain enhanced levels of cleanliness and sanitation. In addition to increasing the number of times per shift that high-use areas and common touch points are cleaned and disinfected, 10 minutes per shift will be dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting employee workstations.
Signage promoting the themes of health and safety have been posted throughout all facilities to remind employees and visitors of proper protocols related to cleaning, social distancing, required personal protection equipment and hand washing or sanitizing. Employees also will participate in small-group training sessions on the new policies and procedures as part of their first-day activities.
“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, FCA’s global chief manufacturing officer. “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.”