Other US manufacturing may follow.
After more than one month of production being halted due to the coronavirus outbreak, some automotive manufacturing is starting to slowly resume. May 4 has been designated by a few automakers as a restart date but there are still some concerns from unions over worker safety. Automakers will have to tread lightly here as resuming full-scale production could increase the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Some solutions to get manufacturing restarted are rather innovative. For example, Ford came out with buzzing wristbands to keep workers distanced from each other. However, other automakers appear more eager to get things back to normal.
WSFA, an NBC affiliate, reports that Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) will slowly resume after a team member tested positive for Covid-19 more than one month ago. HMMA currently produces the 2020 Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe and the facility will also build the recently-announced Elantra.
Hyundai initially announced it would idle its factory until May 1 while continuing to give its 3,000 workers all of their medical, dental, and vision benefits. Employees were also allowed to use their paid vacation time and leave during the shutdown. About 50 percent of the workforce now returned to HMMA on a voluntary basis as of Monday, April 27, before the original restart date of May 1.
"Safety comes first," said Robert Burns, VP of Human Resources and Administration for HMMA. "We rearranged several processes in order, if at all possible, to keep team members more than six feet away from each other," HMMA Environmental Health and Safety Manager, Stephen Tunnell, added. Each work zone will also have a cleaning station with 70 percent alcohol spray cleaner and disposable gloves and towels to clean tools or other surfaces before, during, and after each shift.
In order to better prevent the spread of the coronavirus, HMMA now has hand sanitizer readily available and all employees will be required to wear masks. Before coming in to work, all employees must also walk through a thermogenic camera, which scans for body temperature. If their temperature is 100.3 degrees or higher, a medical professional will double-check their temperature before they are asked not to enter the facility.
"We put actual physical dividers and barriers up in order to promote that activity, too, to stay separated," Tunnell said. Production will resume with the first shift (6:30 am to 2:30 pm) only, moving the production line slowly.