Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE: HII) announced today that its Newport News Shipbuilding division will move to a new work schedule beginning Monday, May 4. In addition, the company is extending liberal leave until Monday, May 18.
“My commitment to remain open while offering liberal leave allows every employee to make the decision that least impacts them and their families,” said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding. “For those employees who are coming to work, we will transition from three to two, more balanced, eight-hour shifts to reduce close personal contact and keep employees and their families safe while ensuring continuity of critical operations.”
The new standard shifts will be 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and will primarily involve production workers and other employees who directly support production and provide waterfront support services, such as some employees who work in waterfront engineering, production control, the clinic, and construction project and inspection departments.
Because more than 70% of employees work on first shift, transitioning to two eight-hour shifts will balance the number of employees working at a time, enhancing social distancing efforts. The period between shifts will be used to clean high-traffic and high touch-point areas across the shipyard, meaning facilities will be cleaned twice every 24 hours while there are minimal personnel on site. Employees will be responsible for cleaning their personal work areas at the beginning and end of both shifts.
The company has taken a number of proactive measures to protect the health and safety of its workforce since the unprecedented global pandemic began. It has increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing high touch points and communal areas across the facility, and ensured additional personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies are available.
The shift change, as well as the extension of liberal leave, comes as a result of recommendations made by the company’s COVID-19 Crisis Action Group, which is comprised of leaders from across the shipyard who are focused on staffing and resolving safety concerns. These measures are intended to further reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19), given recent research that suggests social distancing practices in Virginia and North Carolina are slowing down the spread of the respiratory illness. To minimize risk and slow the spread of the virus, Newport News also is providing flexible work options, including telework.
“Change to our everyday life continues as our nation responds to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Boykin said. “It is causing all of us to find new ways to safely accomplish our daily routines.”
Given the anticipated prolonged nature of this pandemic, Newport News will continue to monitor and adjust business operations as needed to maximize social distancing and keep the working environment safe while progressing mission-essential work.
For the latest updates on NNS’ COVID-19 response, visit nns.huntingtoningalls.com/411.