Construction workers at Mazda-Toyota plant concerned about coronavirus

We took the concerns and photos directly to Mazda-Toyota representatives.

Posted: Mar 23, 2020 9:19 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 9:16 AM

Concerned construction workers sent WAAY31 photos of their working conditions at the Mazda-Toyota plant, worried the company isn't protecting them from coronavirus. 

The photos show what appears to be a filthy restroom and construction workers together in very close quarters, in violation of the recommended 6 feet apart guideline for social gatherings.

We took the concerns and photos directly to Mazda-Toyota representatives, who say they are pushing social distancing, increasing sanitation, and other safety measures across the entire construction site. The representative said these workers are contracted and are not Mazda-Toyota employees. WAAY 31 is told in the last week, major changes have been made to make sure the workplace environment is healthy and safe for the employees. 

Officials tell us in the last week, they've invested in more sanitation supplies onsite for these contracted workers. Mazda-Toyota added more hand washing and hand sanitizer stations, and a cleaning team now disinfects the area 7 days a week.

Mazda-Toyota also says it started daily audits to identify areas that need improvement on the work site.

In complaints from on-site workers, WAAY31 is told there aren't enough sanitary options and they can't truly social distance themselves from the other hundreds of workers, or keep 6 feet apart. 

State officials earlier today said at the workplace, it's not a mandate, but a guideline.

"The question has to do with people in a work environment, we do not order health issues related to work environments, we are speaking of recreational and social gatherings," Dr. Scott Harris, with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said. 

"In some parts of the country, and even in Jefferson County, there have been health orders related to work places but we have not adopted that statewide."

Mazda-Toyota officials say they will carefully monitor the health and safety of their employees, and that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at the plant.

The $1.6 billion dollar plant is still on time to start production in 2021.

Below is the response by Mazda Toyota: 

"Mazda Toyota Manufacturing is working around the clock to create a safe working environment for its team members, business partners and construction site workers. As of today, March 23, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the construction site, and we continue to closely monitor the status and impact of the virus through local, state and national authorities.

We are diligently taking actions to identify and increase safety measures across the 2,400-acre construction site, including social distancing, increased cleaning, additional sanitizing stations and closing confined work areas. Immediate actions have been taken to correct any onsite areas that do not adhere to health guidelines that help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In this unprecedented pandemic crisis, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing has taken action to respond to evolving guidelines provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health and government officials. In the last week MTM has taken the following measures at the construction site:

Increased budget allocations for sanitization supplies and the labor to replenish supplies,
Increased supplies of hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes in the construction worker break areas,
Increased the number of washing and hand sanitizer stations,
Increased frequency of service for portable toilets and stations,
Started daily audits to identify areas for improvement at the worksite, and
Increased the frequency of site cleaning to 7 days per week.

We remain in constant communication with our business partners, including local Trade Union President Tony Quillen, to enact guidance and increased sanitization efforts with the safety and welfare of workers supporting site construction at top of mind."

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