27,000 Boeing Workers Return to Work

27,000 Boeing Workers Return to Work

Approximately 27,000 Boeing workers return to work this week. Those that can perform their work from home will continue to telecommute. Boeing’s press release is excerpted, below. Read the full release, here.

Boeing Workers Return to Work

Boeing has taken steps to resume all Commercial Airplanes production in a phased approach at its Puget Sound-region facilities this week, after suspending operations last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At all of its sites, the company has taken extra precautions and instituted comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Approximately 27,000 people in the Puget Sound area will return to production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs, supporting critical global transportation infrastructure, cargo services and national defense and security missions. The 737 program will resume working toward restarting production of the 737 MAX. Boeing South Carolina remains in a suspension of operations at this time. Earlier this week Boeing restarted mostly defense production operations in the region with approximately 2,500 people.

The company’s practices reinforce enhanced cleaning, employee health and physical distancing in partnership with employees. Aligned with federal and state guidance, these practices include:

  • 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 
  • Hand-washing stations in high-traffic areas and additional cleaning supplies available

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.

Governor Inslee Asked About Boeing Return to Work

During his April 16th press briefing, Governor Inslee was asked about his “reactions to Boeing announcing it will restart commercial airplane production, and whether you gave them the green light to do so,…”

The Governor responded, referring to Stan Deal, Executive Vice President of Boeing, saying:

“…I didn’t have a chance to talk to him about this specifically, but we have talked about this prospect in the past, and I am glad that the Boeing company is committing to very robust social distancing protocols, and use of PPE. We will try to get more details about that to make sure that those plans are adequate to the safety of Boeing employees, which obviously is a paramount concern of ours. I will be talking to Mr. Deal. Our departments will look at their plans to guarantee safety of our employees and hopefully they’re going to pass muster.“

Boeing Return to Work an Experiment

Suddenly releasing 27,000+ employees to return to work in plants across the Puget Sound region will be an experiment to determine the effect of a phased reopening of the State. Governor Inslee has referred to a gradual reopening – “turning up a dial rather than flipping a switch” – while watching the data for any adverse changes.

Although it is not clear if Governor Inslee had input on the decision to reopen Boeing plants to workers, it is clear that the dial has been turned, a bit, this week.

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