The COVID-19 crisis has affected communities, businesses, and governments, large and small, around the globe. The world has watched, often in dismay, at the effects of this pandemic. Hit especially hard are those on the front lines who have suffered from a lack of equipment and gear to protect themselves while they work to protect others against the effects of this virus.

Why a lack of PPE? Simply put, this outbreak has tested industries and supply chains unlike any crises we’ve seen in decades. And, preparedness was not where it should have been. ISEA has many times in the past worked with the federal government toward policy solutions to help prepare for emergencies such as COVID-19, and we will continue to do so on behalf of the safety industry.

In the meantime, and in response to the situation the world found itself in only a few months ago, manufacturers of PPE have gone above and beyond to increase production of vital protective equipment and support communities in need.

What follows is only a few examples to demonstrate the commitment of PPE manufactures in response to the coronavirus:

New Mask Production Around the World

In January, when COVID-19 first surfaced and the demand for N95 respirator masks started to surge, respiratory and hearing protection manufacturer Moldex began to ramp up production. While the vast majority of Moldex N95 respirator masks have traditionally been produced for use in industrial settings such as construction, oil & gas, defense, and mining applications, the US government authorized industry N95 respirators to be used in non-surgical healthcare settings.  Since then, the company has hired extra personnel, added more shifts, and is nearing maximum capacity.

“Historically, the healthcare market has favored the use of less costly surgical masks, but for protection against coronavirus, healthcare professionals require a higher level of protection provided by N95 respirator masks,” the company said.

In April, Honeywell Industry Safety opened two new N95 production operations in the U.S. – In Arizona and Rhode Island. Combined, the two new manufacturing centers will produce 20 million N95 masks per month and create more than 1,000 new jobs. Honeywell is also opening a new mask production operation in Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.

Government Support Allows for Increased Production

Thanks to the Canadian government, Medicom, a manufacturer of medical-grade PPE with production facilities in Asia, Europe, and the US, is expanding operations with a new Canadian mask production facility in Montreal.  The new manufacturing plant, which will produce respirator and surgical masks, will open by July 2020 and create 33 new jobs. Development of the new plant has been accelerated with the support of the Canadian government to “support ongoing supply.”

In January, 3M ramped up US production of N95 respirators to 35 million a year. A few months later, 3M pledged to triple its monthly domestic production of N95 masks after winning a pair of contracts from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The company expects to be producing 96 million N95 respirators masks at its U.S. manufacturing facilities by October.

Globally, 3M expects to double its annual output of N95 masks to 2 billion, racing to meet demand for the respirators created by the pandemic

Local Business Partnerships Forged

HexArmor fluid-resistant disposable face shieldIn Grand Rapids, MI, local PPE manufacturer HexAmor formed 20 new partnerships and created more than 400 new jobs to help manufacture, assemble, pack, and ship disposable face shields and goggles for workers on the frontlines of COVID-19.

The company worked with several local businesses – from material sourcing to components manufacturing to staffing services – who pooled resources into producing disposable face shields and safety goggles. Within two weeks, a new facility was set up, materials were ready to be assembled, workers were hired, and the vital PPE was ready to ship out.

“We are simply stunned at the outpouring of support we have received from local companies who are helping us get these disposable face shields and goggles out the door and into the hands of frontline responders,” said Steve VanErmen, CEO of HexArmor. “We are thrilled to not only help our frontlines across the nation but also help give our local economy a boost with the hiring of hundreds of workers and the collaboration between our partners here in town.”

So Many More

These are just a few examples to highlight efforts being made around the world to support community needs during this trying time.

We’d love to hear about more. Send Nicole Randall your story at [email protected].