New global safety measures help protect workers, business continuity
May 21, 2020
Workers at 3M Tuas

With global communities in various stages of response and recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 3M remains committed to keeping its employees and the public safe. To do so, the company has instituted a variety of new protocols at global manufacturing facilities, helping essential production employees mitigate their chance of infection while also maintaining production of vital response supplies.

3M’s site leadership teams are working closely with local communities and public health authorities around the world — such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) — to reinforce safe operating practices. These practices include using enhanced workplace safety procedures for social distancing, personal hygiene practices, enhanced cleaning, additional training, guidance from Disease Prevention Coordinators, and permission to wear personal face coverings in the workplace, in accordance with recent CDC guidance.

These safety measures have evolved with the spread of the outbreak and will continue to adapt as needed in the months to come. Below are several examples of how our global plants, which manufacture products for their country and region, have adapted. We will share more on our U.S. operations soon.

CHJ, China
Although far from the COVID-19 epicenter in Wuhan, CHJ (Shanghai Cao He Jing High Tech Park) in Shanghai is home to more than 700 employees who had travelled across the region to celebrate Chinese New Year at the start of the outbreak. To help protect their health and mitigate potential spread, plant management introduced self-monitoring and daily tracking, including additional screening of high-risk groups. Those who had traveled to cities with high incidences of the virus were placed on a 14-day quarantine, along with employees who had recently travelled overseas. These employees and their families received guidance and daily health checkups.

To allow employees to return to work for ramped production of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for 3M’s COVID-19 response, workstations and break areas were reconfigured to suit social distancing protocols, with placards and spacing markers offering visual reminders. Leadership formed an epidemic prevention and management team, which conducted daily on-site coaching about employee entry management, including temperature screenings, and use of additional protective equipment and technology. The team also took measures to help ensure flow of fresh air to the workshop and introduced daily disinfection cleaning procedures as well as self-serve hand sanitizer stations.

These new measures strive to help keep CHJ employees safe on the job and, rather than inhibit production, have supported the team in nearly tripling their respirator output by the end of April.

Grassobbio, Italy
Similar to China, the country of Italy found itself to be one of the early high-infection zones of the COVID-19 pandemic. The community surrounding the 3M facility in Grassobbio, Italy was significantly affected. With management and employees equally concerned for safety, facility leadership, with 3M business and corporate support, agreed to shut down the plant from March 27 to April 5. Although its production outputs are not core PPE materials, the packaging materials produced on-site are still involved in the pandemic response and workers felt a strong responsibility to support the supply chain. Following the one-week closure, production employees who were not restricted by travel or quarantine measures came back to work to support operations.

As 3M strived to keep these employees safe on the job, the facility instituted trainings on new, more-thorough cleaning procedures, and supported use of additional PPE and increased sanitization of personal stations. These procedures were backed by social distancing measures and visual cues throughout the facility to ensure proper spacing between employees. Given the significance of the local outbreak, management began daily Country Crisis Management team meetings, with daily and weekly employee communications meetings which helped cascade the information throughout the plant. To help maintain on-site morale, as well as connections with employees working from home, the facility hosted virtual coffee break sessions with plant leadership.

Grassobbio employees have gone above in beyond in facilitating tape donations to the Italian Red Cross, which help to seal crucial first aid and food supplies to those in need around the country. They also helped collect €10,000 to support a local nonprofit serving COVID-19 patients in recovery who otherwise wouldn’t be able to keep themselves in quarantine away from friends and family.

Tuas and Woodlands, Singapore
In early March, as COVID-19 continued to spread across Asia, the neighboring nations of Singapore and Malaysia were determining their response. Many workers at 3M’s Singapore-based facilities — Tuas and Woodlands — live in Malaysia and cross the border each day to work. These facilities play a critical role in global supply chains, and the Tuas facility is crucial to regional and global production of N95 respirators. So, when the Malaysian government announced it would be closing the border starting March 18, 3M faced the potential lockdown of approximately 600 employees and shuttering of two vital plants.

Within 24 hours, plant leadership began implementing their response — identifying key Malaysian workers, finding temporary accommodation for each in Singapore and ensuring each employee was fully prepared to isolate from their families in order to support production. It was arranged for each willing employee to end work early, go home and pack, then return to Singapore before the border closing. These employees have since been housed in hotels, which EHS regularly inspects for safety and COVID-19 readiness, and their income supplemented with a per diem for meals and other expenses. Knowing the emotional strain that comes from not seeing family, the 3M Singapore team supports the isolated employees with care packages, inspiring messages and extra days off when needed. The sacrifice of our Malaysian colleagues in Singapore has helped to more than double the production of N95s at Tuas, with an average monthly output of 9 million respirators.

To help further ensure their safety while maintaining this increased output, plant leadership has implemented twice-daily temperature screenings (maintaining a detailed log), social distancing measures on-site and on company transportation, and mandatory wearing of masks on work premises. The facility has also doubled down on cleaning protocols and social distancing measures.

Cerkezkoy, Turkey
As Turkey saw its first COVID-19 cases in early March, the team at the 3M Cerkezkoy, Turkey plant realized it was important to keep critical production running – especially as the plant worked to add respirator manufacturing capabilities.

Workers at 3M Cerkezkoy

Workers at 3M Cerkezkoy

To help minimize the risk of infection, employees received training on COVID-19 symptoms, as well as procedures for personal hygiene and social distancing. Shop floor, lunchroom and shuttle bus layouts were restructured to reduce close contact, along with adjustments to shifts and lunch and break times to minimize number of people in a space at a time. Plant leadership also began monitoring body temperatures of employees at plant entrances and allowed the use of additional PPE.

The Cerkezkoy team said communication is a big part of their new work process. They created a video to model correct social distancing behaviors and broadcast it in social areas at the plant. The leadership team is also prioritizing communication through regular updates and listening to employees as they return to work.

Even as the safety precautions were being implemented, the plant was able to complete its respirator ramp up project two months ahead of schedule. Now, the plant is producing respirators 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Itapetininga, Brazil
Another crucial manufacturing facility in our response to COVID-19 is the Itapetininga Plant in Brazil, which is home to 800 employees that support the Safety and Industrial Business Group (SIBG) and the Health Care Business Group (HCBG) through the production of PPE, filtration products and industrial tape. To help maximize the output of crucial N95 respirators in around-the-clock shifts, Itapetininga hired 50 new employees and instituted new operational and safety training plans and a daily meeting with all production areas and response plans to help mitigate absences due to the regional presence of COVID-19.

In addition to work practices limiting exposure to COVID-19 at work, such as social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting programs on high touched surfaces and increasing use of PPE, Itapetininga enforced its food safety practices at the cafeteria and carried out adaptations to the layout of the workstations. Special precautions for transportation services are in place in order to help employees travel to work in a safe and reliable manner during this challenging time.

As a way to keep office culture intact and spirits high, the leadership team increased its recognition programs celebrating production employees with vouchers, virtual events and uplifting messages from their local and global 3Mer communities, and for those working from home, helping to set up online lunch appointments with people on their team. Employees as well as their families were encouraged to use the Employee Assistance Program as a resource to find ways to cope with stress and make transitions easier. During the outbreak, Itapetininga plant has increased respirator output and demonstrated employee perseverance and commitment to our operation and our customers.


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