By John Liesveld
MARINETTE — As a critical manufacturer of fire protection products and fire prevention infrastructure for companies and organizations across the globe, Tyco Fire Products LP represents one of those essential industries exempt from Gov. Tony Evers’s emergency order “Safer at Home,” which he issued March 24.
The order spelled out various and enforceable regulations and restrictions community-wide. It resulted in the closure of all non-essential businesses like movie theaters, swimming pools, social clubs, fitness centers salons and spas. The effort was a move to help prevent and/or reduce the risk of further community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Accordingly, and like many essential services and industries exempt from the order and still in operation, today Tyco fortified its efforts to assist in curbing potential exposure risks to help “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19’s impact across the community.
“We are a critical manufacturer,” said Tyco Sr. Manager, Marketing Communications Jim Cox. “As such our employees are working and we are committed to keeping them, as well as our customers, healthy.”
Beginning today, all employees at the three local Tyco facilities located on Stanton Street and Industrial Parkway in Marinette and at its warehouse in Menominee will be required to submit to body temperature screening before entering the facility. Those policy changes come after various other policies and procedures affected by Tyco to reduce potential exposures and spread of the virus among its employees.
A non-contact forehead temperature measurement will be administered to all employees upon arrival. While the employee remains in his/her vehicle, screeners will take his/her temperature. If an individual’s body temperature extends above or below the range of 97 to 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit he/she will be directed to a secondary checkpoint. After a 5- to 10-minute wait, the screener will administer another test. If the temperature still resides outside the range the employee will be instructed to return home. According to Cox, those workers turned away will receive the pay they normally receive for a sick day.
Tyco Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) official will follow up with any employee sent home to ensure they take necessary measures to maintain their health. EHS officials will also discuss when that employee might return to work.
Employees who fall within 97 and 99.9 degrees will be permitted to enter the facility and report to work.
The new policy represents one more step to help flatten the curve.
Flattening the curve refers to all efforts made in a community to help reduce the peak number of hospitalizations and potential deaths, which, if left unchecked, could tax healthcare resources should a sudden surge of patients occurs. Such a situation is currently underway in New York City where the number of hospitalization continues to stretch thin the city’s healthcare resources and medical staff, which can further complicate a health emergency.
However, according to Marinette County Emergency Management Administrator Eric Burmeister, who continues to meet weekly with the medical examiner’s office, Marinette County Public Health and officials from both Aurora Medical Center — Bay Area and Bellin Health, the resources and staffing at local facilities remains sufficient.
“The reports that we are getting at this point, staffing doesn’t seem to be a problem for us, locally,” Burmeister said during a weekly media briefing on Wednesday. “Even the medical surge capabilities (in Marinette County) are not impacted yet.”
Marinette contains a large number of industry employees who work essential jobs. Many similar businesses and industries are required to maintain community health and safety measures as they continue to operate under an exemption from the Stay and Home order. However, the order mandates those companies to apply rigorous and meticulous methods to ensure the health and safety of employees as well as the community in which they operate. The Marinette County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) maintains lines of communication with those facilities to advise on preventive measures.
“We’ve had questions from employers and some of the larger foundries that have occupational nurses … with questions about things that they can be doing,” said the Marinette County Public Health Officer Molly Bonjean. “And we are happy to work with them and guide them and provide any resources that we can.”
According to Cox, Tyco’s EHS department determines the suitable and necessary measures to safeguard against COVID-19 and temperature monitoring represents only the latest effort. Those measures are based on various factors associated with each facility. Some include increased cleaning activities to ensure that areas frequently subjected to human contact receive sanitation at least three or four times daily. The company also implemented strict social distancing policies by staggering break times to avoid over-congregation of people in and breakrooms. Tyco officials also modified lunchrooms to accommodate no more than 10 people at one time.
And when the 6-foot social distancing policy is unattainable due to necessary tasks or other operations, Cox explained that Tyco officials utilized physical barriers.
Moreover, Cox pointed out that in the event external supply lines for cleaning and sanitizing products run dry, Tyco has the ability to manufacture its own sanitizing solution.
“We have a process on-site to make our own sanitizing spray so that we can disinfect the facility,” Cox said. “So we have that as a safeguard in case we run out.”