New coronavirus safety measures awaiting employees’ return to Huntsville Toyota plant

The company has been working to comply with federal safety guidelines and local and state ordinances.

Posted: Apr 29, 2020 3:41 PM
Updated: Apr 29, 2020 7:55 PM

The week of May 11, 1,400 employees will be returning to a whole new working culture at the newly safety-revamped Toyota-Alabama plant in North Huntsville.

The company has been working to comply with federal safety guidelines and local and state ordinances.

But before they open up, they invited various local officials, along with WAAY 31, to take a tour inside to get a look at their "new normal."

At Toyota-Alabama, safe work is part of their motto. Now, safety signage is awaiting the returning 1,400 employees.

When employees return back to work, they'll check into work stations. They'll scan their questionnaire about symptoms. Then, they'll get a temperature check. If they're showing symptoms, they'll move off and talk to medical staff and get tested. If they're good to go, they'll receive a mask and report to work.

On the inside of the plant, WAAY 31 joined company and Madison County officials with masks on, which is a requirement of all employees.

In the dining area, Plexiglas shields are placed as barriers at tables and food areas to provide added protection against the spread of coronavirus. There are even staggered eating schedules to keep people spread apart.

Toyota used 3D printers and machines to crank out well over 12,000 face shields for local healthcare providers on the frontlines and their own returning workers. They even made respirator masks for local schools, and more can be made at a moment's notice.

“This is kind of the gold standard of the new normal and what we have seen time and time again is that Toyota has led the charge and how we set up the new industries of tomorrow,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Partitioned Plexiglas shields are draped down to protect employees from each other on the assemble line. It made you feel like you had to try extra hard to communicate with each other, a challenge Battle quickly picked up on.

"We're all going to have to communicate a little bit different," he said.

"Mayor, you're 100% right. Just when we greeted each other this morning, the natural instinct is to shake hands, 'how do you do?' Now, we all have to change the way we think," David Finch, the Toyota-Alabama president, said.

That's something Finch said will be part of immediate training.

"Getting them used to the protocols, getting them used to all the changes and to understand what needs to be done to recondition themselves," he said.

In a whole new working environment, leaders saw firsthand that the best protection is in place even if the worst is still ahead.

"I think there's less of an opportunity for an outbreak because of what they put in place. They thought through almost every aspect of what they have to do on the line to continue to build engines, but they've also put the pieces in place to help separate their employees and keep them safe," Madison Mayor Paul Finley said.

One other change awaiting Toyota-Alabama employees when they return to work is staggered schedules. Finch says those changes will help accommodate the ease of entry into the plant and maintain social distancing.

Huntsville/Madison
Mostly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 53°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 49°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 53°
Decatur
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 43°
Fort Payne
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 48°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 705876

Reported Deaths: 8819
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby783871172
Davidson72746692
Knox39988439
Hamilton35697337
Rutherford34042295
Unassigned23786134
Williamson22041144
Sumner18744232
Out of TN1629183
Montgomery15092149
Wilson14797164
Sullivan12932220
Blount12321133
Washington12148204
Maury11264131
Bradley1116398
Sevier10787121
Putnam10170152
Madison9309183
Robertson788687
Hamblen7213117
Anderson6983114
Greene6749115
Tipton636869
Coffee576982
Gibson5739116
Dickson557082
Cumberland554476
Bedford543091
Roane532481
Lawrence522169
McMinn520374
Carter5191116
Warren510455
Loudon506351
Jefferson493378
Dyer485286
Monroe470363
Hawkins458672
Franklin422865
Fayette412651
Obion405882
Rhea390657
Lincoln387246
Marshall356538
Cocke355760
Cheatham348531
Weakley345148
Henderson337059
Campbell336440
Giles332476
Carroll317160
White316946
Hardeman314754
Hardin305450
Lauderdale298834
Macon293951
Wayne270124
Henry267858
Overton259546
McNairy247142
DeKalb247042
Haywood245047
Marion235332
Smith234830
Trousdale230715
Scott229732
Hickman228935
Claiborne227432
Fentress216734
Grainger216039
Johnson205034
Morgan194616
Crockett183138
Bledsoe178011
Chester178039
Unicoi170045
Cannon161420
Lake158421
Decatur148828
Polk148517
Union144725
Grundy143122
Sequatchie141119
Humphreys137217
Benton133835
Lewis130921
Meigs118216
Stewart111220
Jackson105923
Clay96526
Perry95925
Houston94824
Moore8349
Pickett69020
Van Buren6738
Hancock4187

Community Events