Inside INdiana Business

GM lays out new safety protocols as assembly plants prepare to resume

GM releases protocols for returning to work amid the pandemic.

KOKOMO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) has released a series of safety guidelines and protocols it is implementing at its U.S. factories as the automaker returns to work next week.

The company has targeted May 18 to resume some production after it instituted a nationwide shutdown due to the spread of the coronavirus.

GM said the phased-in measures come from what they learned from their facilities in Kokomo, Warren, Michigan, Arlington, Texas, as well as plants in China and Korea.

“These procedures meet or exceed CDC and WHO guidelines, and are designed to keep people safe when they arrive, while they work and as they leave the facility,” said Philip Kienle, vice president, North America manufacturing for GM.

Kienle took part in the press briefing from the Kokomo plant where he has helped oversee the production of critical care ventilators.

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He said the plant has shipped 1,100 units as of this week. The contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls for 30,000 ventilators by the end of August.

“Which we’re on target to meet,” said Kienle.

As the 80,000 GM workers in the U.S. return to work next week, their factories will look different from when they left their assembly lines.

Workers will be required to wear face masks, temperatures will be checked, and procedures to ensure social distancing have been put in place.

“We’re looking to keep the disease out of the workplace, we want to stop the spread of the disease within our workplace and we want to manage symptomatic or possible cases within the workplace,” said Dr. Jeffrey Hess, GM’s chief medical officer.

The company said it worked with leadership from the United Autoworkers union to develop and institute the procedures.

Hess said one of the biggest challenges workers will likely face is keeping a safe distance between each other, acknowledging that at times it will be impossible.

“When individuals can’t keep a six-foot distance within the workplace, we’re really relying on the protective measures of masks and safety glasses to be very protective in those environments,” said Hess.

The new protocols go beyond the GM facilities, Kienle said GM has shared it multi-faceted guidelines with its suppliers.

“Because safe operations of our supply chain are key to our ability to resume our production and to the health of those people in their communities,” said Kienle.

GM has plants in Fort Wayne, Marion, Kokomo and Bedford.

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