Since the onset of this global pandemic, FABRIC and AZ Apparel Foundation have helped to mitigate the emergency need for PPE by manufacturing reusable isolation gowns and other items needed to keep our healthcare workers safe. When we started doing this, we were the only PPE manufacturer in the state with FDA certification to make safe and effective PPE, so the demand for our resources was significant.
Helping during this emergency comes with significant internal adjustments, expensive equipment needs, dozens of additional staff, additional protocols, and personal financial risk. Despite the hurdles, FABRIC and AZ Apparel Foundation have and will continue to use our skills and resources to help protect those who are putting their own lives at risk during this pandemic.
One of the biggest responsibilities has been providing a safe work environment for our team of experts who are on the front lines of PPE manufacturing. From the beginning of our PPE journey, we have closely followed and implemented policies and procedures that often exceed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines on COVID-19 workplace safety.
To produce over 1300 gowns a day from our facility, we hired over 50 additional employees consisting of sewing technicians, line supervisors, cutters, a production manager, and administrative help. This means while most businesses are still closed or have opened with less staff, we have added more staff to meet demands. With additional staff comes greater potential risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Some of the steps we have taken include:
· All sewing stations are set up in a way that spaces each sewing technician’s seat 6 feet away from other sewing technicians
· Each production line is oriented to face each sewing technician away from each other
· Each staff member is required to wear a mask to prevent spreading any viral droplets they may unknowingly be shedding when coughing, sneezing, or talking
· Each sewing technician has their own hand sanitizer and are instructed to sanitize their hands regularly before and after breaks in sewing
· Sewing technicians use CDC-recommended cleanser and are instructed to sanitize their workspace regularly before and after breaks in sewing
· Hand sanitizer and/or a sink for hand washing is provided upon entry into FABRIC’s lobby for all visitors
· All commonly used surfaces are sanitized regularly throughout the day
· FABRIC’s front door remains locked and is open by appointment only
· Consultations and lessons are being offered virtually
· A cleaning crew regularly cleans and sanitizes the FABRIC building multiple times per week
· And now everyone who enters FABRIC will have their temperature taken
· All CDC Guidelines have been posted in public areas to educate staff and visitors about symptoms and reporting protocols
· All employees with COVID-19 symptoms are instructed to self-isolate for 12 days before returning to FABRIC
As recent reports from health officials indicate that positive COVID-19 cases in Arizona have been drastically increasing in the last few weeks without a proven therapy or vaccine, all citizens of Arizona have a greater chance of exposure and FABRIC is not immune to that risk. As such, one of our employees recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Upon learning of the positive test, we immediately took the following precautions:
· Our facility was closed and sanitized in a manner above and beyond CDC Guidelines
· We implemented temperature and health screenings upon entry for all employees and visitors to FABRIC
· We implemented a mandatory mask policy
· We reinforced the importance of following the previously implemented policies and procedures
· We limited building hours to all tenants, staff, visitors, and employees to Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm so we may provide a health check for everyone entering the building moving forward
FABRIC, as an essential business manufacturing medical grade PPE in the midst of a pandemic, understands and takes seriously our responsibilities to heed the CDC Guidelines and protect our staff at FABRIC who have chosen to take a risk to help protect our healthcare heroes. And we will continue to do so the entire world works to overcome this pandemic.