Co-workers live 28 days in a factory to make materials for personal protective equipment

Factory employees spent nearly a month working hard to make PPE materials amid the pandemic. 

  • Dozens of factory workers lived together for 28 days while working 12-hour shifts making essential PPE materials.
  • For nearly a month, the employees were entirely devoted to helping the country tackle protective equipment shortages.
  • They now use a modified schedule to keep one another from exposure to COVID-19. 

In April, 80 factory workers spent 28 days straight in 12-hour shifts making materials for N95 masks and surgical gowns. As ABC News reports, the employees worked at two separate manufacturing plants – the Braskem America plants in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, and Neal, West Virginia.

The facilities equipped air mattresses, cots, and sleeping bags for the selfless workers. Local restaurants were taking care of their meals. They were also provided with high-speed internet so they can regularly video-call their loved ones.

Stephanie Whitesell, plant manager of Marcus Hook, said:

 “Our team wanted to help where they could and were committed to creating these necessary items for our nation’s pandemic response. We floated the idea and immediately had more volunteers than we needed.” 

Credits: Braskem America

Although the conditions were not ideal, it was the best way for the workers to protect themselves and their families while helping with tackling the pandemic. 

Larry Kerrigan, plant manager of Neal, described:

“They made it so easy and were committed to making sure we can make this material that folks need. It was a collective decision, from the leadership down to our newest hires. We had one guy whose spouse works in a hospital. Being separated isn’t easy, but it was best for each of them to be able to do their jobs safely.”

Credits: Braskem America

Braskem plants applied the extra measures as soon as the Food and Drug Administration and state governments across the US stated there were shortages of personal protective equipment. However, the epidemic put pressure on the company to keep its production line moving at all costs. In their case, if just one employee contracts the virus, the entire facility would shut down for weeks. This would put a hold on the desperately needed material each factory churns out daily.

Credits: Braskem America

Whitesell explained:

“We tried to do what was best to minimize and avoid disruption of these critical materials that are so important right now. The live-in was an aggressive action that was implemented quickly, but it was entirely necessary and I’m so proud of our team.
There is a lot of pride in how well the site ran over the last few weeks. They did very well”

The factory workers are now using a modified schedule to limit interaction with other team members to keep themselves safe from possible COVID-19 exposure.

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