Ford has implemented a phased restart for its South African operations beginning June 1, including kicking off vehicle and engine production and bringing back the first wave of employees who are not able to do their jobs remotely.
"We’ve been working intently with national government, our safety and medical teams, unions and our workforce to reopen our Silverton assembly plant, in Pretoria, and Struandale engine plant, in Port Elizabeth," says Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) operations VP Ockert Berry.
"Since the beginning of April we have been producing protective face shields at the Silverton plant, and are using the lessons from this project, along with input from our global Ford teams, the Department of Health and our medical specialists to ensure we are taking the right precautions to help keep our workforce safe."
FMCSA expects the ramp-up process to be gradual as workers adjust to the new health and safety protocols, and the entire supply chain comes up to speed.
Employees that are able to work remotely will continue to do so, including Ford's administration, finance, sales and marketing staff.
This staggered approach allows the company to effectively implement new safety protocols and provide personal protective equipment for all employees as they return to work.
"Our human resources, medical, safety, engineering and facilities teams at both plants have used the past two weeks to fully prepare for our employees to safely return to work," notes Berry.
“All workstations, equipment, offices and common areas have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and this will be repeated daily prior to each shift. Cleaning agents, disinfectants and hand sanitiser stations have been provided in all office spaces, production areas and meeting rooms to allow employees to maintain the necessary hygiene standards.
“Additionally, social distancing measures have been implemented and demarcated throughout the facilities, offices and common areas to make it easy for employees to maintain the minimum two-metre separation.
"We have also established dedicated flu clinics at both plants for employees or contractors that exhibit any cold or flu-like symptoms during working hours," adds Berry.
"The clinics are manned by specially trained medical staff to evaluate the person's condition and advise if further testing or medical treatment is required. Should there be any confirmed Covid-19 cases at our plants, we have protocols in place for contact tracing, self-isolation, case reporting, as well as intensive cleaning and disinfection procedures."
Ford dealers are also progressively ramping up their operations in line with government guidelines.
Having moved to Alert Level 3 restrictions from June 1, dealerships are now able to operate with their full staff complement.