Social Distancing, Barriers and PPE: What Work Looks Like Now

Pasquale Abruzzese
Posted By
Pasquale Abruzzese
Vice President, Global Manufacturing

As the world combats COVID-19, organizations everywhere are trying to figure out how production can resume and continue while keeping employees safe. Telecommuting is not an option in industries that create physical products. 

A production environment requires using processes, tools, and protective equipment to be deployed in a systematic and repeatable way, like we have laid out in our Safe Operations Protocols, which are publicly available for download.

Social Distancing

At grocery stores and pharmacies, or in walks through the neighborhood, people have become mindful to keep away from others at all times. In a work setting, Aptiv’s protocols mandate a minimum of 1 meter of space when masks are being used and 2 meters when employees are eating or smoking, and cannot otherwise stay covered.

Social distancing starts before our employees ever get to work. We’re also modifying processes to reduce the density of operations and make it easier for employees to stay apart. Where we provide transportation to and from our facilities, we are running multiple buses and reducing the density of our operations by running more shifts. 

Training is also essential. Our best practices utilize “visual factory” techniques, already inherent in our Lean manufacturing toolkit, to demonstrate instructions and delineate physical separation through markings on the floor, similar to what you might see while waiting in line at a grocery store check-out. In places where it’s simply not possible to maintain distances, we have erected physical barriers. These effectively keep employees separated within smaller spaces. 

In break areas, such as cafeterias, we’re taking actions to ensure fewer people use the facilities at one time, such as staggering shifts and lunch breaks. We are designating spacing within seating areas, and employing physical barriers to keep people separated as much as possible since they won’t be able to wear masks while eating.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In fact, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are a key component of our safe operations protocols, and Aptiv’s guidance at Level 3 is to provide a surgical or government approved mask to each employee, and replace them daily and/or per shift. 

If employees have to get very close together (working on the same part at the same time, for example), they will use face shields. We are also making hand sanitizer available for employees – without losing sight of the fact that hand washing is always preferred. In all cases, the goal is to provide the proper level of PPE for the right use.

We are regularly assessing the risk factors per location and will adjust our threat protocols accordingly.  While protocols are heightened, you might think that employees would be resistant to change – to being told they have to stand apart in lines or to wear PPE. But we’ve found that these actions are welcomed and closely followed when employees understand that the policies are there to help keep them, their coworkers and their communities safe.  And, through transparency into our decision criteria, they can be confident that Aptiv will step down to lower threat levels once it’s possible to do so safely.

For details on Aptiv’s approach and access to our related documents, click here. 

Learn more on our COVID-19 page