CNN has reported on a heroic effort by American employees of the petrochemical company Braskem. In response to the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, the company’s US subsidiary asked workers to live at a Pennsylvania facility while ramping up production of polypropylene. Polypropylene is a key material in respiratory masks, medical gowns, and sanitary wipes.
Over 40 employees volunteered for the 28-day marathon effort. The group worked in 12-hour shifts with virtually no interaction with the outside world. Isolated from possible coronavirus infections, they had no need to maintain social distancing. The company provided them with beds, kitchens, groceries, supplies, televisions, internet access, and iPads. Finally, on April 20, the proud and joyful workers completed their four-week rotation.
Mark Nikolich, Braskem America CEO, explained that the purpose of the live-in arrangement was twofold. The company wanted to secure the supply of critical materials and to ensure the health and safety of the company’s team members. Moreover, during the crisis, Braskem America has shifted production capacities. It now focuses on materials needed for N-95 face masks, protective food packaging, and other important medical gear. The US Department of Homeland Security has deemed Braskem America’s work an “essential service.”
As we all come together to address the unprecedented challenges facing our nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Braskem’s commitment to meeting the needs of our medical manufacturing customers has never been stronger.Mark Nikolich, Braskem America CEO
Background on the company
Headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil, Braskem is the leading producer of biopolymers in the world. The company serves clients in more than 70 countries. It has been praised both for its innovation and for its commitment to sustainable chemistry. And, according to Braskem’s website, it “wants to be recognized by its local communities and society as a company that contributes to improving human development.”