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Tesla Return To Work Playbook Shows A Strategy That's Already Worked in Gigafactory Shanghai

by Ma. Claribelle Deveza May 10, 2020

Tesla-Fremont-Reopen-Giga-Shanghai-China

Tesla’s Return to Work Playbook reveals the company’s strategy to keep its employees, suppliers, and contractors safe during the pandemic. The strategy outlined in Tesla’s Playbook has been/will be implemented in all its facilities. Giga Shanghai, which has been in full operation since February, has shown Tesla's Playbook at work. 

Tesla shut down Giga Shanghai for a short time before resuming operations. The temporary shutdown gave Tesla time to reorient and develop procedures to keep people working in and visitors of the China-based factory safe from the virus. Since the Shanghai factory reopened its doors on February 10, it has resumed full operations and may have even improved its efficiency. 

Giga Shanghai gave Tesla the experience it needed to develop a safe working environment for its employees and visitors in all its factories, including its main headquarters: Fremont. “Our early planning and actions mirrored the successful management and restart at our Tesla Shanghai facility,” confirmed the Playbook. 

Tesla-Fremont-Alemeda-County

Credit: Tesla

Based on its experience, Tesla’s Playbook has considered key measurements to prevent the virus from spreading among those in its facilities. Some of these key measurements include: 

  • Encouraging daily communication between employees, managers, and supervisors.
  • All areas of its factory/facility and equipment are cleaned (before, during, and after shifts).
  • Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers are available and within reach throughout the facility, and personnel has access to them.
  • Supplying employees with proper PPE and making sure anyone entering the facility also has proper PPE when necessary.
  • Social Distancing is encouraged with materials and set rules such as signs, tape measurements, barriers, room occupancy limits, etc. 

Preparing To Open

Before Tesla even reopens any of its factories, there are procedures in place to help the company decide who will return to the facility, when they will return, and how. Those who can work from home will continue to do so, and those needed for essential operations will be brought back to work gradually. 

Employees returning to work will be given a training video titled “COVID and Coming to Work." The video will discuss safety/preventative procedures and other necessary information workers need to return to work—and continue to do so—in a safe environment.

Tesla-Fremont-Reopen-Alemeda-Country

Credit: Tesla

For instance, Tesla developed a self-health checklist to keep employees safe. Workers are asked to conduct these self-health checks daily. Managers and supervisors have similar checklists for their teams and are encouraged to communicate with their members in daily meetings.

Tesla has even taken precautions in areas that aren’t related to its factories' main operations but are essential for employee satisfaction and happiness. For instance, the break rooms in Tesla factories have barriers between tables to encourage Social Distancing. Tesla has also found ways to provide touchless food, utensil, and drink services in the break room. When touchless services aren't applicable, the company has found ways to minimize touching. 

Tesla's Factory Status

Among all its facilities, Giga Shanghai and Giga Nevada have reopened. News about Giga New York has been sparse, probably because of the course the pandemic has taken in the state. 

Hopes that Fremont factory would reopen seemed to come true over the weekend when the Governor of California Gavin Newsom said that the state could move to Phase 2 of the lockdown, under the supervision of local government units. However, Alameda County told reporters that Tesla could not reopen, claiming that the company did not meet certain requirements to resume operations. The requirements were never clarified. 

However, Tesla’s release of its Return to Work Playbook outlines the actions the company has taken to ensure the safety of its facilities. According to the Playbook, Tesla does consider the guidelines that are specific to the area its factory was placed. “Each site should stay abreast of local government orders and ensure requirements are implemented,” it said. 

Tesla-Fremont-Reopen-Alemeda-Country Credit: Tesla

The Playbook also clearly states that Tesla has based its safety plans on the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which Alameda County listed as a requirement in its Large Construction Project Safety Protocol(LCP Protocol). The LCP Protocol issue guidelines that businesses should follow to resume construction work. 

“Comply with all applicable and current laws and regulations including but not limited to OSHA and Cal-OSHA. If there is any conflict, difference or discrepancy between or among applicable laws and regulations and/or this LCP Protocol, the stricter standard will apply,” says the guidelines. 

Reporters have linked the requirements in the LCP Protocol and its counterpart, the Small Construction Safety Protocol (SCP Protocol), with those that Alameda County is enforcing on Tesla, even though the matters are different. Tesla is primarily seeking approval to reopen Fremont's regular vehicle production operations, not to start or resume a construction project at the factory. 

Even if the requirements to reopen Fremont and start/resume construction were similar, Tesla’s Playbook revealed that the company seems to have complied with all the perquisites set by Alameda County. In Fremont’s case, Alameda County needs to develop clear and open communication with Tesla to resolve the issue at hand. 

Featured Image Credit: Tesla




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