Face shield production revs up fight against COVID-19

15 July 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202019737

Disaster Management
Occupational Health
Social Development
Face shield production revs up fight against COVID-19
Ford hands over face shields to staff at Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth

AS the number of recorded COVID-19 cases continues to climb, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) has entered its fourth month of producing protective face shields at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.

This is in addition to ongoing efforts to protect employees over the phased-in approach to restarting operations from 1 June at Silverton and at the Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth.

To date, the automaker has assembled 285 000 face shields, with the focus on assisting the South African government’s efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus, while protecting frontline medical workers and public health officials.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in immeasurable ways, and forced everyone to rethink everything from the way we do business, go about our everyday tasks such as shopping and schooling, and even how we interact with family and friends,” said FMCSA MD Neale Hill.

“It has also united humanitarian organisations and the general public in support of the COVID-19 health initiatives, and in reaching out to the most vulnerable members of our society.”

The shields, which wrap around the user’s face, are being produced to global health standards to protect the user’s eyes, nose and mouth from exposure to the coronavirus which is easily spread through coughing and sneezing. It uses a clear polyethylene shield, polyurethane foam padding and an elastic latex fabric headband to keep it in place.

The shields have been in production at the Silverton Assembly Plant since the beginning of April, with all of the funds received from FMCSA, the Ford dealers, suppliers and business partners, as well as Absa Group, going directly into purchasing the face shield materials. Ford has sponsored all the labour costs for the assembly and packaging throughout the project – with up to 85 employees involved in the unique production line located in a temporary, fully sanitised facility at the plant.

“Through the various contributions received, we have so far managed to donate almost 140 000 face shields to the Department of Health’s centralised warehouse in Centurion,” said Ockert Berry, FMCSA’s VP of Operations. “We have also supported various hospitals, clinics, old age homes and non-profit organisations with face shield donations.”

Over 1 100 face shields were also recently donated to 25 wildlife conservation and education projects around the country that are supported by the Ford Wildlife Foundation. This will help these non-profit organisations to safely continue their important work in protecting threatened species and habitats.

“We have just delivered the final batch of the 50 000 face shields procured by the US Department of Defense, and it’s fantastic to see the United States government not only supporting our face shields project, but also doing its part to help protect the citizens of South Africa, and those of our neighbouring countries,” Berry said.

Turning to measures to protect Ford’s own workers, he said that along with the ongoing cleaning of its facilities and workstations, the company conducts daily screening for all personnel entering the plants and provides the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Workstations and common areas have also been reconfigured to ensure appropriate social distancing measures are maintained.

Both plants have created dedicated on-site Flu Clinics, which are fully equipped to handle employees or contractors that exhibit cold or flu-like symptoms during working hours. The medical staff are trained to evaluate the person’s condition and advise if further testing or treatment is required. Protocols are in place for contact tracing, self-isolation, case reporting as well as intensive cleaning and disinfection processes.

Additionally, all administration, purchasing, logistics, sales and marketing staff that are able to work from home continue to do so, to limit the number of people on-site.

Similarly, Ford dealers across the country have adopted stringent health, hygiene and social distancing standards – including full sanitisation of vehicles before and after test drives, and for vehicle servicing.

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