“I’m so happy to see colleagues returning to the plant to work, eat and chat together. The first thing that we said to everyone was ‘long time no see’,” said Tiffany Zhang, Production Leader of Trinseo’s Tsing Yi Plant, Hong Kong.
Zhang recalled that in February and March, Hong Kong’s fifth wave of COVID-19 reached its peak. There was a gradual increase in the number of colleagues in the plant who contracted the virus, including frontline employees who were responsible for production and operations as well as those in charge of freight transport and logistics. As a result, the plant faced manpower shortages. Worse still, the lack of Mercaptan (NDM), an important raw material, and the worry about a chemical reaction caused by the prolonged storage of styrene monomer meant that the plant could not afford to experience a reduction in production due to inadequate staffing. On the contrary, it had to operate at full capacity.
Protecting staff members and maintaining production manpower was essential. The plant management team decided that everyone except frontline workers had to work from home. To further safeguard co-workers of the production line, those without permission could not enter the control room of the plant. Despite these measures, there were so many COVID-19 cases that the plant was on the verge of cutting back production. It was at this point that the management team devised a contingency plan for colleagues who had previous experience in production. They would have to oversee the manufacturing process when others couldn’t.
In addition to the production challenges, the canteen of the plant had to close because of COVID-19 cases. To support those at the plant who no longer had easy access to lunch, colleagues transported over 100 meals to the plant by car.
When employees were ready to return to the plant, the management team provided rapid antigen tests every day despite challenges that existed in securing them. They even offered co-workers vitamin C and disinfectants to maintain a healthy environment. Zhang explained, “We did our best to provide for our colleagues, because we wanted them to know how much we care about them.”
During these months, there were countless challenges including reduced manpower, food shortages, and the need for anti-epidemic supplies. This challenging environment impacted the operation of the Tsing Yi plant and the work and lives of colleagues. Zhang said she was truly appreciative of all the staff of the Tsing Yi plant for supporting the decisions the company made and for overcoming the many obstacles they faced together. Thanks to everyone’s concerted effort, in spite of the city’s COVID-19 epidemic peak, the Tsing Yi plant maintained its full speed production, fulfilling all customer orders on time.
Following the downward trend of COVID cases in Hong Kong in April, colleagues could finally enter the plant to work without restriction. All employees were thrilled to see the factory bustling and back to normal again.