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Boeing recommences production in Washington state

written by Dylan Nicholson | April 17, 2020

Around 27,000 people will be able to return to work at Boeing’s Puget Sound facility, pictured (Boeing)

Boeing will resume all commercial aeroplane production in its Puget Sound-region facilities next week, after suspending operations last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 27,000 people will be able to return to work, with most of them starting by next week on production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs, supporting critical global transportation infrastructure, cargo services and national defence and security missions. 

“Following thorough reviews of local conditions, we’ve started restoring operations at some sites where work has been suspended,” Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, said in a letter to employees ahead of the announcement.

The resumption will be a phased approach with the implementation of extra precautions and comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19.

“The health and safety of our employees, their families and communities is our shared priority,” said Stan Deal, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“This phased approach ensures we have a reliable supply base, our personal protective equipment is readily available and we have all of the necessary safety measures in place to resume essential work for our customers.”

Those returning to work will be supported through reinforced guidelines regarding cleaning, employee health and appropriate distancing. To help with this, Boeing is implementing:

  • Staggered shift start times to reduce the flow of employees arriving and departing work;
  • Visual controls such as floor markings and signage to create physical distance;
  • Face coverings will be a requirement for employees at Boeing sites in Washington. Employees are strongly encouraged to bring in their own procedural mask or face covering; those who do not have a mask available will be provided with one;
  • Providing required personal protective equipment to employees working in areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained for an extended period;
  • Asking employees to perform self-health checks before coming to work and to stay home if they are ill;
  • Employee wellness checks at the beginning of every shift and voluntary temperature screening at many manufacturing locations;
  • Contact tracing when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 to reduce risk to teammates;
  • Continued virtual meetings and employees who can work from home will continue to do;
  • Transportation and common areas adjusted for physical distancing; and
  • Hand-washing stations in high-traffic areas and additional cleaning supplies available.

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Enhanced measures will continue until conditions allow for a return to regular work and cleaning processes. Boeing will continue to monitor government guidance on COVID-19, assess impact on company operations and adjust plans as the situation evolves.

The 737 program will resume working towards restarting production of the 737 MAX, and earlier this week Boeing restarted mostly defence production operations in the region with approximately 2,500 people.

Boeing South Carolina, however,  remains in a suspension of operations at this time.

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