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Covid-19 cases at factories don’t deter manufacturers

Several other manufacturers too said that even if there was an eventuality of employees testing positive, they will follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) and inform the local authorities, but production will continue.

Last Updated: May 26, 2020, 10.41 AM IST
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MUMBAI|NEW DELHI|KOLKATA: An employee at the country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki tested positive for Covid-19 while the test results for a second employee were awaited. At Hyundai, three tested positive and test results for 16 more are yet to arrive, according to media reports. A Gurugram apparel exporter said a staffer at its factory tested positive for Covid-19 late Sunday evening.

The discovery of Covid-positive cases has not deterred these companies from continuing their manufacturing activities afre the prolonged lockdown was eased to allow factory and shop floors to restart operations.

Several manufacturers said were they encounter such an eventuality where one of theirs test positive for the novel coronavirus, they will follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) and inform the local authorities without halting production.

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There were elaborate protocols in place on how to handle such a situation, said Deepak Jain, president of Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA). “Our endeavour is to ensure that production is not hindered. The key is to be very transparent within the community and with the local authorities so that wider spread of the virus is curtailed.”

The Gurugram apparel exporter said the worker had stopped coming to the factory four days earlier after feeling unwell. Upon discovering his test reports, the company traced 10 people who might have come in contact with the patient and advised them to self-quarantine for 14 days. The laboratory unit in which the patient was an assistant was sealed, but work resumed in the other parts of the factory, the company’s managing director told ET.

Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Bajaj Auto, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, Jindal Steel and Power and JSW Steel said they have developed similar SOPs to ensure the safety of their employees while continuing production.

“We are following strict and comprehensive protocols at all our locations to ensure safety and provide reassurance,” said Rakesh Sharma, executive director of Bajaj Auto. “However, despite all this, incidence of Covid-19 cases in the future cannot be ruled out. We will manage those effectively and aim to continue our operations.”

Ganesh Mani, head of manufacturing at Hyundai Motor India told ET the standard operating procedure laid down by the government takes into account the eventuality of workers being found positive and has requisite future moves to ensure their safety and unhindered production.

"We proactively track down positive cases and contacts and yet ensure production remains unaffected since the livelihood of many people is at stake if we keep the factories shut. This is the new normal now post COVID-19," Mani said.

Companies were also looking at creating databases of their employees’ health to better assess the situation. They have mandated the use of the Aarogya Setu app and some have also developed in-house applications to monitor employee health.

“In the instance of the worker who tested positive, the company advised him to take the Covid-19 test after reviewing the data fed into the app,” a Maruti Suzuki spokesperson said.

At Jindal Steel and Power, arrangements were being made to accommodate the staff within the townships adjacent to the plant to ensure that manufacturing operations were run to the maximum possible extent.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)
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