Safety first on the shop floor

At our UK manufacturing facility, Covid-19 has forced us to do things differently. It’s been a challenge to continue manufacturing our stoma care products at the same rate as before, but our team are managing it, and as a company we are incredibly proud of how they have all adapted to the situation.

The 2m mark

Most of the changes that needed to be made in our manufacturing facility in Crawley were around keeping people at least 2m apart and encouraging frequent handwashing. Social distancing presents its own set of challenges on the production line and in the rest of the building. To deal with it we needed to trial and test measures quickly. These included:

• Installing physical screens where it’s impossible for people to stand 2m apart, for example at our packing tables

• Reducing the number of people who can be in the Welland Café at any one time

• Implementing a different clocking-in process and queuing system with 2m markings around the building

• Relocating our engineers out of the ground floor office to create more room for lockers to help the flow of people and respect the 2m rule

• Buying two extra clocking stations to create a one way system for clocking in and clocking out that would let people get home as quickly as possible at the end of their shift

• Installing 2m markings internally to help people keep the right distance apart at all times

• Making visors and face masks available to anyone who chooses to wear them.

Covid communications

The management team decided from the start that they needed daily briefings with everyone. This sounds simple, but when there are 3 manufacturing shifts and you can only have so many people in a room at any one time, it’s not. The daily briefing quickly became 5 daily briefings in a plant that operates Monday to Thursday 6am to Midnight, and 24 hours from Friday to Sunday.

“It’s been challenging,” says Arnya Traher, Quality and Regulatory Affairs Manager, “But in the beginning people were understandably very anxious. There were a lot of changes that we needed to trial and perfect quickly. Clear and consistent communications, and listening to people’s concerns and feedback on changes was critical to us getting things right. We also had to work fast to translate WHO and Government guidance into practical solutions that kept everyone safe.”

With 170 people working at our manufacturing facility, there’s a huge diversity in terms of age, health and family situations. People’s concerns around coronavirus were very different. Arnya continues: “Key to the communications has been trying to get everyone to appreciate other points of view and worries. So, even if you weren’t concerned you could understand why certain actions might upset others.”

Personal support

“In all of this, what’s been really important is having conversations so that we understand what’s worrying people. It was very clear from the beginning of the outbreak that there were high levels of anxiety. People needed to feel safe at work and we needed to focus on our people’s wellbeing,” Production Manager, Paul Costigan notes.

Practical support included things like letting people go and shop during their shift if they had been unable to get supplies because of empty shelves. There’s a telephone counselling service available to all, and on site there are individuals trained to help people deal with stress. A handful of vulnerable members of the team are at home self-isolating. “There’s been no talk of furlough and no question about anyone with symptoms not self-isolating,” says Paul. “And our teams have been fantastic through it all.”

A team effort

As Engineering Manager, Jeff Hughes notes: “Implementing changes is hard at the best of times. It takes time. Now we’ve had to do it daily and people have been really patient when we’re trying new things and just got on with it. They’ve given feedback and made it possible for us to be producing as we were before this all started.”

Arnya reiterates, “Our people have been really amazing.”

On behalf of the rest of the company and all the ostomates who use our products, we’d like to thank the management team at our headquarters – Paul Costigan, Jeff Hughes, Nancy Vince and Arnya Traher – and every single member of the engineering and production team for what they’ve done and continue to do each day.

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