Stitching together to protect employees

Teams of employees sew cloth face coverings for fellow employees to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on site.

May 05, 2020 in Our Commitment

As the world adjusts to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees across the company have pivoted from their normal daily work to help cut and sew cloth face coverings for their fellow employees.

Teams of employees who typically cut fiberglass resin skins and carbon composites for interior panels or sew insulation blankets for airplanes are now producing cloth face coverings as part of a One Boeing effort.

“I want to be contributing to our community,” said Lester Flores, one of about 20 employees assisting in the effort by Emergent Operations in Everett and Renton who agreed to come in during the recent Puget Sound suspension of operations to get cloth face coverings ready for employees when they returned to work. “It’s critical when we have people who work in the same area that we can take measures to prevent spreading of the virus.”

Boeing has aligned with guidance from public health agencies and encouraged its employees to bring and wear cloth face coverings from home. In locations where face coverings are required – including Washington state – Boeing is providing cloth face coverings to employees who don’t have one.

Now, cloth face coverings are being made by teams at a number of Boeing sites, including Everett and Renton in Washington. Approximately 8,600 face coverings are expected to be produced each week and will be distributed strategically to sites based on highest need.

“Keeping our employees and our communities healthy and safe is a top priority for Boeing,” said Dave Komendat, vice president, Security & Fire Protection.  “It is inspiring to see these teams collaborate like this, and help in the effort to keep each other safe.” 

Producing cloth face coverings is just one example of how teams across the enterprise are uniting for common causes and working on projects outside their normal duties to help make a difference.

“It reminds you how much we can achieve when we work seamlessly as one team focused on doing the right thing,” said Dave Hilliard, Phantom Works Operations director, leading the effort at Boeing Defense, Space & Security sites.

At Boeing Fabrication’s Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, brightly colored bolts of fabric are piled high on tables waiting for the Raw Material Cutter team to layer onto a conveyor belt. An ultrasonic knife slices through the fabric, creating 600 rectangles per batch that are then taken to a nearby building where Emergent Operations teams established a standard work process and assembly line for sewing, ironing and kitting.

“This isn’t something we’ve ever done before,” said Emergent Operations senior operations leader Leland Adams. “Everybody here is energized about the chance to contribute.”

The cloth face coverings have not been FDA cleared or approved.  They have been authorized by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use as source control by the general public, as well as by health care personnel in healthcare settings, to help prevent the spread of infection or illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The cloth face coverings are authorized only for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of the emergency use of medical devices, including alternative products used as medical devices, during the COVID-19 outbreak, under section 564(b)(1) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the authorization is terminated or revoked sooner.