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Workers lived at the factory for 28 days to make materials for PPE to help fight the pandemic

Workers at Braskem America plants left their families behind as they worked in 12-hour shifts to make raw materials for PPE.

Workers lived at the factory for 28 days to make materials for PPE to help fight the pandemic
Image Source: Getty Images/ Jane Ham, Production Controller, adds used clinical materials including face masks into the new waste recycling unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, on 15 December in Truro, England. (Photo by Hugh Hastings)

While many Americans are still hesitant to cancel their holiday plans, they would do well to learn that there are many essential workers out there putting in extra shifts to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. It has emerged that a group of factory workers stayed at their plants for nearly a month to ensure that there was no interruption in the making of material for PPE. Healthcare personnel has been at the forefront of the battle against Coronavirus, which made them very vulnerable to the virus. Eighty workers worked 12-hour shifts for 28 days straight at the Braskem America plants in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, and Neal, West Virginia, to help deliver personal protective equipment to healthcare professionals who desperately needed them, reported Good Morning America. 



The workers decided that it was best to eat and sleep at the factories as they worked to create materials for N95 masks and surgical gowns. The factory workers headed home after their stay at the plant. "Our team wanted to help where they could and were committed to creating these necessary items for our nation's pandemic response," said Marcus Hook plant manager Stephanie Whitesell. "We floated the idea and immediately had more volunteers than we needed."




Braskem America worked to make their workers comfortable as they worked to create essential items. They were provided with air mattresses, cots, and sleeping bags, and the break rooms and offices were converted into sleeping dormitories. "We had to increase the capabilities of the Wi-Fi, as you can well imagine. Because on off-hours, movies, Xbox, video chats, Zooms with their families and loved ones were really important. They have locker rooms. They have kitchens where they can cook. So in some cases, they cooked where they have team members that have the ability to do that. In other cases, we delivered premade food, you know, pre-cooked and packaged food for them to consume," said Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich, reported Yahoo Finance.



They were also given high-speed internet so they could video-call their loved ones. Their food was arranged from local restaurants. "They made it so easy and were committed to making sure we can make this material that folks need," said Neal plant manager Larry Kerrigan. "It was a collective decision, from the leadership down to our newest hires." The decision was arrived at after taking into account the shortage of personal protective equipment in America's hospitals.




The idea was also to keep their families and their co-workers safe during such a time. With cases spiking, it was the right thing to do to protect their loved ones as well. "We had one guy whose spouse works in a hospital," said Kerrigan. "Being separated isn't easy, but it was best for each of them to be able to do their jobs safely." Braskem is the largest producer of polyolefins in the country, and they couldn't afford to halt production at any cost and a worker who is exposed to Coronavirus posed that very threat. It would force the plant to be shut down for a few weeks while the workers quarantined or sought treatment. 




"We tried to do what was best to minimize and avoid disruption of these critical materials that are so important right now," said Whitesell. "The live-in was an aggressive action that was implemented quickly, but it was entirely necessary and I'm so proud of our team. There is a lot of pride in how well the site ran over the last few weeks; they did very well," he added. America has so far recorded more than 325,000 deaths and the upcoming holiday season poses a huge challenge for the people and the healthcare workers all over the country.

Disclaimer: Information about the pandemic is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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