The Kokomo General Motors Components Holdings plant is set to restart Monday and bring back some 300 workers who were temporarily laid off during the COVID-19 shutdown.
The local GM plant closed on March 20. Now, the company has implemented a slew of new safety protocols to protect employees and the community as they head back to work.
Those measures include requiring a temperature screening and filling out a health questionnaire before employees can go into work. Employees will be required to wear a face mask at all times, other than eating or drinking, and must clean their workstations at the beginning of every shift.
The local plant will also implement social-distancing protocols for workstations, meeting rooms and other common spaces, and prop doors open to increase airflow into the building and prevent the need to use hands.
Dr. Jeffery Hess, GM’s corporate medical director, said the company developed its protection approach in part from the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and other scientific and guidance.
“Our goals are to keep the disease out, stop the spread and manage active cases,” he said in a statement.
Stephanie Jentgen, a GM communications manager, said the Kokomo plant also helped pilot the company’s new safety protocols after GM partnered with Ventec Life Systems to begin producing ventilators last month inside the local facility.
The around 800 people who are temporarily employed to build ventilators at the Kokomo plant have been following similar safety protocols since production launched.
Local GM employees who were furloughed had first dibs on being hired to build the ventilators. Jentgen said any employee who chose to be hired will now be asked to return to their regular job at GM.
Meanwhile, the company is still looking to hire more people to build ventilators. Jentgen said the goal is to add a third shift by mid-June to the production line and are looking to employ more than 1,100 people.
The move to reopen the Kokomo plant comes as the company begins to move back into full production by mid-June. Jentgen said the gradual restart will follow a tempo that ensures employee safety, allows the supply chain to refill and meets market demand.
GM CEO Mary Barra said as the COVID-19 situation evolves, the company will adapt and make any changes to its policies in accordance with relevant health and safety protocols issued by authorities.
“During these uncertain times, we must focus on controlling what we can, while continuing to take appropriate actions to create environments where you can do your best work,” she said in a statement to workers.