Meeting the pandemic head on

CNH Industrial takes a comprehensive, collaborative approach to public health mitigation at its New Holland Plant  

Businesses large and small throughout Lancaster County are increasingly adept at navigating their way through the realities thrust upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For some, that means a remote workforce. Others are adjusting schedules, enhancing cleaning and disinfecting procedures while retrofitting production facilities, all to help prevent the spread of the virus. Whether a Main Street boutique or a mighty corporation, employers reinforce the necessity of face masks, hand washing, limited social interaction, and an understanding of the need to track potential cases to keep their workers and consumers healthy and safe.  

Chiquitta Evans takes Phillip Hoffer’s temperature, part of the new protocol at CNH Industrial to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread.

CNH Industrial is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial goods — from tractors, combines and construction equipment to trucks, buses and powertrain solutions. Not surprisingly, its approach to the pandemic has been meticulous and multi-faceted.

The company operates a manufacturing site for its New Holland Agriculture brand in New Holland, Pennsylvania. Its new manufacturing plant procedures hinge upon clear and ongoing communication, social distancing, and interdepartmental collaboration. The company has also activated a protocol for verifying health status, and even shifted food and beverage offerings in the break areas to only individually wrapped and packaged items. 

“The dynamic and ever-changing nature of COVID-19, coupled with the pace of a world-class manufacturing environment, requires a highly collaborative approach to combat spread of the virus,’’ New Holland Plant Manager Tim Smith said. 

To understand the scope of that task, keep in mind that CNH Industrial’s local, almost 350-acre campus, which is the New Holland brand headquarters for North America, includes a 150-acre test farm and a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with nearly 500 employees.  

The proactive approach to the virus has required deliberate and detailed action. 

Take communications. 

Plantwide messaging regarding safety guidelines, expectations and schedule changes are shared via text, voicemail and email. Signage throughout the plant reminds workers about social distancing; maximum occupancy is posted in meeting rooms where “blocking’’ of seats ensures employees are adequately spaced from one another. 

The company ensures that communications and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health are distributed to employees. Taking that a step further, the human resource and plant managers host socially distanced small-group meetings with employees to review COVID-19 workplace scenarios. 

Because social distancing is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19, workstations are audited to identify where employees may work within 6 feet of another person. Some chairs and tables were removed from lunchrooms to ensure social distancing. So, too, were picnic tables throughout plant break areas. Trainings and 95% of meetings are held via Microsoft Teams. Additionally, schedules were adjusted for a few months to reduce the number of people entering or exiting the building at any one time. 

“Our manufacturing team has worked tirelessly to ensure that we are aligned with the latest recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the company’s Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) requirements. We continue to make significant investment in appropriate personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and protocols, and increased frequency of facilities maintenance,’’ Smith, the plant manager, said. 

Staff collaborates on the review of symptomatic employees and those being tested. HR, EHS and the plant registered nurse meet to review potential cases and establish a plan of action and quarantine for each one. There is daily tracking of employees who undergo testing, the CNH Industrial team determining whether prolonged exposure occurred at work with fellow employees. 

Verifying health status is standard. There are temperature checks for employees and contractors prior to site entry. Health declaration forms are completed by employees upon return from leaves as well as by visitors, contractors and vendors upon arrival. Daily temperature checks are checked, then cross-checked with security badges to ensure compliance. 

Individually packaged masks are distributed every two weeks to all employees. Telemedicine visits are offered by the company doctor. Temperature checkers are trained and scheduled for two to three months at a time. Monthly audits make sure there is adherence to safety and health requirements with results tracked in a database. 

Finally, work area cleaning instructions and schedules are issued. Also, instructions on proper mask usage and cleaning (for cloth masks) are issued when they are distributed. 

“Our customers rely on us to provide them with the hay and forage equipment they need to feed the world,’’ Smith said. “Our goal: Meet those customer requirements while simultaneously ensuring the health and safety of our employees. It’s a big lift and we’ve had some bumps along the way; but we continue to work together to overcome each new challenge COVID-19 throws our way.” 

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