Shipyard moves to two shifts in bid to reduce COVID-19 risk

Shipyard moves to two shifts in bid to reduce COVID-19 risk

Newport News Shipbuilding will move from running three shifts to two as part of its continuing effort to reduce the risk of spreading the new corona virus.

The change, which will take effect May 4, will not involve layoffs, spokesman Duane Bourne said on Wednesday. The yard is also extending its liberal leave policy to May 18.

The aim of the shift change and liberal leave extension is “to reduce close personal contact and keep employees and their families safe while ensuring continuity of critical operations,” shipyard president Jennifer Boykin said in a statement.

One shift will run from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the other from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

The change mainly affects production workers and employees who support them including Production Support System/Production Support Teams, RADCON, Construction Project, Inspection departments, the clinic and waterfront engineering.

Supervisors will notify employees about their shift assignments by April 20.

Reducing the number of employees on-site, which the yard has been doing by encouraging working from home, makes social distancing easier, which slows the spread of the coronavirus.

The shipyard will use the time between the new shifts to clean high-traffic and high touch-point areas across the shipyard. That means its facilities will be will be cleaned twice every 24 hours while there aren’t many people on site.

A total of 23 people who work at the shipyard have the coronavirus. They are now in quarantine as are dozens more who have been in contact with them.

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