'Live-in-Mode' Braskem Employees Ensure Continued PP Production in the Battle Against Coronavirus
Volunteer Braskem workers move into plant to supply PP for nonwoven fabric used in N95 masks and more.
The PT team and our Gardner Business Media (GBM) siblings that cover key manufacturing sectors continue to report on industry efforts across the supplier chain in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. We have all been alerted to temporary plant shutdowns in the plastics manufacturing sector, particularly in the ‘non-essential’ sectors, though there are several examples of such designated plants that have retooled to make products sorely needed in the healthcare arena.
On April 8, it was reported that Philadelphia-based Braskem America has had about 46 employees that volunteered to ‘live-in’ at the company’s Markus Hook, Penn., facility for 28 days so they can continue the manufacture of polypropylene (PP) used to make nonwoven fabric for things like N95 masks, hospital gowns and hoods, hair nets and sanitary wipes. This was publicized both in Pennsylvania’s Delaware County Daily Times and CBS local news.
Braskem U.S. CEO Mark Nikolich was quoted as follows, “Because of Marcus Hook’s supply situation, where they’re supplying this critical hygiene and medical industry, and because of what Governor (Tom) Wolf was starting to do in Pennsylvania, we took early moves to move into this ‘live-in’ mode at Marcus Hook to secure the plant.”
Braskem America’s products have been deemed essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in all the states in which it operates, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas. At the same time, Nikolich noted that with COVID-19, it was crucial to create an environment that would both protect team members from contamination but also address employees concerns about taking daily trips to the facility, and potentially infecting high-risk family members at home.
This is how the ‘live-in’ idea came into being. Braskem not only increased wages, but has provided necessities like beds, kitchens, groceries, internet access and iPads to employees as they work 12-hour shifts in two groups around the clock.
The facility passed a crucial 14-day mark on Sunday, April 5. This was when a drive-by of support from friends and relatives took place.
Nikolich was quoted as follows, “From a leadership perspective, I couldn’t be more proud of our team and their commitment to safety—in this case health and safety – but also their commitment to the business and keeping this economic engine going in Marcus Hook. This is unprecedented. We don’t know where this is going to go. …We’re trying to plan for the worst, but expect an improved outcome and I think our products, our teams and the site in Marcus Hook are part of that whole engine to help.”
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