Toyota Mississippi prepares to bring team members back to plant
BLUE SPRINGS, Miss. (WCBI) – One of the largest employers in the region has been preparing to bring its team members back.
Toyota Mississippi may have been shut down for weeks, but work was going on inside to make sure workers were protected from COVID-19 when they return next week.
When team members return Monday they will notice a lot of changes. Everything from entering the plant, eating lunch and even working on the assembly line, all part of a massive effort to keep everyone safe in the wake of the coronavirus.
Toyota Mississippi President Sean Suggs demonstrated the process team members will go through as they come to work. Each team member must answer a short survey.
Team members will have their temperatures taken before entering the plant, and the company is providing masks and face shields.
Visitors have to go through the same protocol.
Inside, the plant was unusually quiet. Corollas have not rolled off the line in seven weeks. But a skeleton crew of about 200 has helped maintain the plant, and make service parts.
Also, the two million square foot plant was sanitized, and CDC guidelines were implemented. There were six foot distance markers, hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility and other safeguards.
Plexiglass partitions were installed in administration Team members made the partitions and they are also making masks for the entire plant.
In the cafeteria, social distancing guidelines were enforced. Through the shutdown, team members stayed in touch with their group leaders.
“We have been in contact with team members on a regular basis through mendomi calls, and that means in Japanese, taking care of team members like they are family. I think in total we have made 2,0000 mendomi calls,” said Emily Lauder, the vice president of administration.
Congressman Trent Kelly was part of the tour with other local government leaders and said getting the Blue Springs plant up and running impacts many people and many businesses.
“Toyota is not just Toyota, the plant here, it’s all the suppliers who make parts, it’s all those, doing it in a right way, a safe way but getting our folks back to work is so important,” Cong. Kelly said.
A survey of team members showed 97% were eager to get back to work. Toyota hoped reopening the plant would show other businesses it was possible to get employees back on the job safely and get the economy moving once again.
Toyota estimated it will take about three months to get production back up to capacity at the Blue Springs plant.