Auto production is slowly coming back but already there have been two Ford plant closures in three days because of positive tests for COVID-19. The Chicago plant was shut down twice but only briefly as two workers tested positive. Ford’s truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, was shut down today when another worker tested positive. It is not known when that plant will reopen. The assembly line workers do go through a regimen of testing before they can start work. Here’s the full COVID-19 screening process at a Fiat-Chrysler plant in Windsor, Canada, just across the river from Detroit.
Before reporting back all employees had to have a health screening
Even before reporting back to the plant this week, all employees including office staff at Chrysler’s Canadian headquarters had to have a health screening. Tents and trailers are set up outside of the factory for employees to be tested before entering the assembly lines. There are six tents, and six trailers for a combined twelve thermal imaging checks. Before entering the tents they must first pass a daily online health questionnaire. There is an app employees have for mobile phones.
Once they pass that questionnaire they must file six-feet apart through a screening tent. Once they pass the screening, workers apply hand sanitizer and then receive two paper face masks. The plant hands out 12,000 masks every day. Continuing in line one-by-one workers are guided to trailers where a thermal imaging temperature check is taken.
Without the ticket of approval, they cannot enter any buildings
If they pass the temperature test they are handed a pair of safety goggles and receive a ticket. The ticket allows them to enter the facility. Without the ticket of approval, they cannot enter the buildings.
Should an employee feel sick they must notify a supervisor and head home. Someone from the plant’s medical department will follow up to help contain any potential spread of the virus. The probability is that once an employee has been sent home they will remain at home in isolation for 14 days.
“If there was a confirmed case we follow a protocol working with the local health unit”
The area that the worker was in then gets sanitized. Nearby workers are monitored but not sent home unless they also display symptoms. “If there was a confirmed case of someone that had COVID, we follow a protocol where we work with the local health unit and identify the close contacts of that individual and then follow the advice the medical professionals give to them,” a Fiat-Chrysler spokesperson told Automotive News.
Obviously, if there are a series of positive tests for COVID-19 the plant would be shut down at least to do a thorough cleaning. Fiat-Chrysler has not indicated what that entails nor how long the plant would stay shut down.
In the case of the Ford plant in Chicago, two employees on different shifts tested positive. Each shift was shut down for a time before starting back up after a cleaning of the affected worker’s areas. The Ford truck plant in Dearborn was shut down today and has not reopened but is expected to for the night shift or tomorrow.