We're still learning about how much damage was caused to individuals, communities and companies by a massive storm system that crossed the Southern and Midwestern U.S. late on Dec. 10 and early Dec. 11.
Plastics companies contacted by Plastics News have reported minor damage to buildings, while power outages hit both materials firms and molders. (If you know of any damage or know of efforts to support people hurt in the storm, feel free to reach out.)
Anyone who has seen the devastation at sites such as the candle factory in Mayfield, Ky., or an Amazon warehouse near St. Louis know just how intense the storm front and the tornadoes were.
One item I came across in stories about the storm also points to a long-term question related to factory workers in general: Should employees be able to have cellphones with them on the shop floor for their own safety?
Our sister paper Crain's Chicago Business has a story via Bloomberg that workers at the damaged Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Ill., are saying that a ban on personal cellphones meant they didn't get all the emergency warnings about the storm's approach. They also had problems contacting family after the storm eased.
In May 2020, the National Labor Relations Board upheld a company's ability to ban cellphones in plants. In a case involving Cott Beverages Inc., the board backed the company's claim that cellphones were a risk because they could potentially contaminate drinks during the bottling process or be a safety hazard if people aren't paying attention to forklifts and other equipment in the plant.
So once immediate repairs are done, more discussions may be underway about cellphones on the manufacturing floor.