Manufacturing Sector Ranks Third for Coronavirus Outbreaks in Michigan
State health officials rank coronavirus clusters by setting. According to their data, schools and congregate care facilities have the first and second most outbreaks, while manufacturing settings rank number 3.
They say there’s been at least 25 outbreak clusters in production facilities in Michigan.
Region 7 has just one manufacturing outbreak while Region 6 has the most with 12.
While every business has had to adapt to new COVID safety protocols, manufacturers are under even stricter restrictions from MIOSHA as data shows that production floors are fertile place for coronavirus transmission.
Ryan Schultz from MR Chain in Copemish says this is likely because many workers in these settings work in close quarters.
“You’re not moving a lot, you have the person…the person may be right next to you because they’re working on the next assembly that you’re doing because the more time that product spends moving, the less efficient you are,” said Schultz.
MR Chain has implemented strict social distancing and all employees must wear masks. The Copemish company is also doing more to keep everyone healthy.
“It’s just not mask wearing. It’s okay, what’s your time spent in the same room with somebody, or if you spent over 15 minutes within 24 hours you are not allowed to do that,” said Schultz.
MR Chain creates crowd control products and their business has exploded through the pandemic because international buyers want to purchase dividers to enforce social distancing.
Schultz says operations has had to balance booming business with employee safety.
“When the pandemic hit and then our demand picked up, we knew we had to hire people, and we actually held off on hiring, at that point, because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Schultz.
Jim Fuller from Fuller Manufacturing in Kaleva says he’s thankful his floor has remained healthy through diligent safety protocols, but he can understand why there’s been 25 manufacturing outbreaks in the state so far.
“The jobs are such where you just can’t, it’s not feasible to wear a mask all day…maybe the work environment is hot, or it’s just difficult to be wearing a mask the whole time,” he said.