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Workers lived at plant for 28 days to make material needed for COVID-19 protective gear

Workers lived at plant for 28 days to make material needed for COVID-19 protective gear
Posted at 12:24 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 13:41:51-04

DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. – More than 40 employees lived at a Pennsylvania manufacturing plant for nearly a month to ensure that material needed to make much-needed medical gear was produced.

Braskem America says the team of workers volunteered to live on-site at their plant near Philadelphia for a 28-day rotation. The team recently went home to their families after eating, sleeping and living at the facility.

Joe Boyce, operations shift supervisor at the plant, told WPVI that the group was split into two 12-hour shifts and their only outside contact was through TV or the occasional drive-by from family members.

The workers spent their time producing polypropylene, a raw material used to produce a non-woven fiber used to make N95 masks, hospital gowns and sanitary wipes. The protective medical gear is direly needed as healthcare workers combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way," Boyce told WPVI.

Braskem says it also has teams working similar rotations at other facilities in Texas and West Virginia.

The company says it’s supporting its employees with enhanced compensation, on-site kitchens and supplies to sustain the teams as they to operate the facilities in isolation.

To protect the workers, Braskem says it has deployed stringent facility cleaning protocols, social distancing practices and restrictions on plant visitation.

Mark Nikolich, the CEO of Braskem America, said in a statement that the company’s commitment to meeting the needs of medical manufacturers has never been stronger.

“We have deployed a range of measures across our manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia to secure the supply of essential grades of polypropylene polymers for the production of respiratory masks, protective medical gowns and other gear,” said Nikolich. “In parallel, we have positioned 'live-in' manufacturing teams operating in isolation at key facilities, among other measures, to help ensure the health and safety of our team members who are working as an essential service throughout this crisis to keep these key supply lines running.”

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