Part 1 of 2
While companies navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, corporate leaders should be evaluating a number of key business continuity issues as well as steps they can take to not only react to business disruptions but also reshape their business and recovery plans.
We spoke with Dan Steele, Senior Director and the APAC Head of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Security (EHS&S) at GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF) Singapore, via teleconference for insights into the best practices he and his team have implemented from their Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to guide them through the health crisis.
SEMI: How did GLOBALFOUNDRIES Singapore first respond when the country reported its first COVID-19 case?
Steele: Since the early days of our company, we have had a Business Continuity / Crisis Management (BCCM) team in place that is responsible for business continuity planning for the site. At the beginning of this journey with the coronavirus, we believed in two truths: maintaining the safety and well-being of our employees and consistently communicating precautionary measures the company has taken to protect them and our business. These actions are critical to keeping our employees safe, while keeping the anxiety level low. By informing and updating employees in a timely manner, we ensure that they are well-educated about the crisis as it unfolds and the foreseeable circumstances that could be ahead of us. Once the world was well into the coronavirus outbreak, our CEO declared in a message to all employees that “we entered this pandemic crisis together, and we will exit it together.”
We have also established links to pertinent government websites and made them conveniently available to ensure employees have access to the latest available information for their personal lives.
SEMI: What actions has GF Singapore taken in response to the crisis so far?
Steele: On January 29, our BCCM team activated the first line of defense by initiating temperature checks at all building entrances for every individual including employees, contractors, visitors, and customers who come into our facilities. We asked each to declare their state of health and travel history and issued a temperature card to every employee and resident contractor. They are all required to record their temperature twice daily – once before coming to work and again at midday – and they present the temperature log to security upon their arrival.
The following week, our teams split into an A/B work arrangement to ensure continuity of our operations. We proactively pared down our teams to the staff essential for our on-site operations, while enabling the rest to work from home. We also advised our most vulnerable employees with impaired immune systems or who are pregnant to work from home. Concurrently, we moved all meetings of 10 or more people to virtual communications and only allowed meetings with fewer than 10 to be held in rooms with participants sitting at least one meter apart. We informed our customers of our efforts and moved all planned on-site visits to online visits.
In line with Singapore’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 within the community, GF restricted site access of people who had recently traveled to countries with sustained community transmission and regularly updated the restriction list.
To conduct contact tracing, we created our two degrees of separation list that we used to track employees with families and close associates who were linked to a COVID-19 case. Employees provided the information voluntarily.
On our campus, we enforced strict safe distancing measures by limiting access to meeting rooms, marking off-limits tables and removing chairs in the cafeteria, limiting the number of elevator riders to no more than four, and placing boxes or other spacing indicators at smoking zones, bus stops and temperature-taking lines. We also initiated a daily log of employees taking the company buses tagged to the bus number, time, and employee identification numbers in anticipation of the need for contact tracing.
Most recently, when the Singapore-Malaysia border closed, we activated the next phase of our BCP that was already in place – housing over 450 Malaysian employees in Singapore hotels.
Throughout this crisis, we continuously monitor and evaluate possible impacts to our supply chain to ensure the continuity of our business. This is a standard element of our ongoing business continuity management system.
Most importantly, we frequently communicate with our employees and tell them everything the company is doing and why we are doing it. We encouraged employees to monitor their health, stay home if they are unwell, and seek immediate medical treatment if necessary at one of our panel clinics or other medical facilities.
SEMI: What are your top concerns amidst this health crisis?
Steele: At GF, we are managing through the crisis with an unwavering focus on two guiding principles: the safety and well-being of our worldwide team, their families and communities; and delivering on our commitments to our clients. As the world’s leading specialty foundry, GF has a unique role in the global supply chain. Our semiconductor technology is vital to a range of industries including health care, communications, infrastructure and security. With these priorities in mind, the company undertook unprecedented steps and has adapted to the crisis by dynamically adjusting its protocols, health and safety measures, and business processes to protect its teams while maintaining manufacturing excellence.
We are committed to safeguarding the well-being of our employees while supporting and sustaining our on-site operations and protecting customers’ products. A major concern is the impact on our employees. We understand that COVID-19 can be infectious even if an individual is asymptomatic – we are always concerned that temperature screening alone is not sufficient. This is the reason that from day one we have encouraged our employees to monitor their health, follow all government advice for proper hygiene and seek medical attention if unwell as early as possible, and not come to work.
Dan Steele has over 25 years of experience in environmental, health and safety, and security operations. He has also held other leadership roles in facilities engineering, quality, reliability and assurance, and risk management.
Bee Bee Ng is president of SEMI Southeast Asia.