Nissan to carry out safety tests in Sunderland

23 April 2020

23 April 2020

As part of a pilot safety scheme, Nissan will reopen its Sunderland plant this week.

Some 50 staff members from the powertrain team, who make engine castings and cylinder heads, will return as part of the trial, which will test measures designed to keep the workforce safe during the coronavirus outbreak. The hope is that if successful, the pilot will lay the groundwork for 6,000 people to return to work there.

According to the Financial Times, the carmaker plans to provide specialised masks to workers who will come within two metres of another colleague. Employees who will be more isolated will be given masks as well. Workspaces will be spaced further apart, and staff will be distanced in the canteen and smoking areas.

′Regular reviews will take place throughout each phase of this pilot, taking into account the feedback from the teams involved’ the carmaker said. ′This will inform the return to work protocols for the rest of the factory in the coming weeks.’ Nissan has not yet set a date for when its main Sunderland plant will reopen.

While the industry is working with limited visibility on future market conditions, the manufacturer hopes to resume business as soon as circumstances allow. ′Nissan has spent recent weeks carrying out extensive risk assessments and benchmarking with other manufacturers around the world, to put in place a comprehensive set of safety measures to protect the health and wellbeing of employees.’

The carmaker has confirmed production is set to resume in Barcelona at the start of May. Plans are in place to restart with pickups on Line 2 and the powertrain plant, along with the Montcada and Sant Andreu sites. Two of Nissan’s Spanish part plants in Cantabria and Avila will restart on some projects on 27 April.

PPE production

Vehicle production has been suspended in Spain since 13 March, 17 March in the UK and 30 March in Russia. In the meantime, Nissan partially reopened sites to help manufacture and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in the UK and Spain. Up to 100,000 face visors have been delivered from the UK site to the NHS each week.

In the first stage of the project, the volunteer team took delivery of hundreds of boxes of visor parts from across the country who had been using their 3D printers to make the PPE.

′It is great to be able to play our part in helping to provide the NHS with these visors, said Adam Pennick, Nissan’s production director. ′Our people are experts in the logistics behind an effective supply chain, and we certainly weren’t short of volunteers for this project.’