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Over 40 employees at the Braskem plant voluntarily self-isolated for 28 days in their plant to make sure they could up the production of an essential material for medical protective gear.

During the current pandemic, most of the focus has been on our healthcare workers fighting on the front lines. And with good reason–they are risking their lives on the daily to save others.

However, let’s not forget the other unsung heroes and essential workers who have also been working relentlessly–and some of them, to help ease the work of our nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers.

This is the situation for these 40 employees who work at the Braskem America manufacturing plant in Marcus Hook, near Philadelphia. What do they make? Polypropylene, which is a raw material that is needed to make N95 masks, medical wear and other protective gear.

They went above and beyond–voluntarily

As healthcare workers are experiencing a critical shortage of the protective equipment they need to do their job safely–more essentially the N95 masks – the Braskem employees stepped in in a major way.

The 40 workers all together agreed to forego seeing their families for 28 consecutive days. Instead, they took up residence in the facility, where they ate and slept. They worked 12-hour shifts and their only source of distraction was the television, or occasional family visits through drive-by.

They wanted to do their part–and they were rewarded for it

Braskem did this live-in rotation program “to help ensure the health and safety of our team members who are working as an essential service throughout this crisis to keep these key supply lines running,” the company said in a news release. The plant makes 771 million pounds of polypropylene each year, according to the company’s website.

Shift supervisor Joe Boyce said that the spirits were high, despite the difficult situations the workers voluntarily put themselves in.

There’s been a glow in everyone’s eyes.

Joe Boyce to ABC Action News

In fact, the fact that they were all isolating together meant that they didn’t have to be so preoccupied about social distancing measures.

“We’ve almost been the lucky ones, I’ll say for the last 28 days because I haven’t had to stand six feet from somebody,” Joe said. “I haven’t had to put a mask on.”

The crews worked 12-hour shifts rotating shifts, and were rewarded with an increase in wages and provided beds, kitchens, groceries, internet access and iPads.

A well-deserved break

They finally took a well-deserved break and went home on Sunday, April 18th. They would enjoy a 1-week break and come back to work their regular schedule.

Despite their selfless decision, they are the ones who feel lucky to be helping.

We’re truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way. All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That’s what makes our job easy to do.

Joe Boyce to WPVI

Heroism can be found anywhere

Braskem’s workers have shown incredible selflessness by volunteering to help in the overall fight against the coronavirus in the best way they could. They remind us that we all have the potential to do something, even if it is small, to help others during this difficult time.

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