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FCA unveils safety plan to resume North American manufacturing


A weld curtain hangs between two operators working on the underbody of a Dodge Grand Caravan at FCA’s Windsor (Ont.) Assembly Plant. The barrier helps protect employees from the spread and transmission of COVID-19. Photo: FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) released a plan to resume its North American manufacturing operations on May 12.

The company is implementing a comprehensive program of enhanced safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when the plants reopen.

“Above everything else, our top priority has always been to do what is right for our employees,” says Mike Manley, FCA CEO, in a statement.

“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.

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“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 says.

“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 the best practices that have enabled the restart of operations at its facilities in China and Italy.

Daily health risk assessments

Aligned with World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations, the 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.

The protocols include cleaning, disinfecting and social distancing, and ensuring the wellness of everyone entering an FCA facility. With that in mind, the company will require its employees, as well as all 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.

An employee at FCA’s Windsor (Ont.) Assembly Plant has his daily health screening checked via a mobile app before being allowed entry into the plant. Photo: FCA

Cleaning measures

During the production pause, FCA completed a significant number of cleaning and social distancing activities to prepare its facilities 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 for more efficient cleaning of these areas, and provided cleaning supplies at all workstations so surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected. FCA also installed more than 2,000 hand sanitizer stations across all facilities, and will be conducting daily audits to ensure new standards are followed upon reopening.

Social distancing measures

More than 17,000 workstations were analyzed and evaluated for adherence to two-metre social distancing guidelines, and more than 4,700 job areas and workstations redesigned or protective barriers installed to allow for more social distancing

FCA also installed plexiglass partitions and created visual management guides for social distancing in break areas and cafeterias, as well as throughout all buildings, and staggered start times and added time to breaks and lunch to minimize large gatherings.

The company has suspended meetings of more than eight employees at a time and transitioned to virtual meetings, wherever possible. They’ve also put new approval protocols in place for facility visitors.

Maintaining measures

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 in order to maintain the enhanced levels of cleanliness and sanitation.

In addition to increasing the number of times per shift that high-traffic, high-use areas, as well as 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.