The first signs of a semiconductor shortage appeared late last year, and now, a month and a half into 2021, the scope of the impacts is coming into view. Plants across North America are seeing production schedules adjusted to properly allocate the limited number of microchips —which are made up of semiconductors—reaching automotive assembly plants. As the New York Times noted recently, a new car or truck can have as many as 100 of the chips on board as essential components in everything from touchscreens to transmissions. Supplier Issues Hurting Restart of Car Production General Motors, Ford , Stellantis, Toyota , Volkswagen , Honda , Nissan , and Subaru have all had to adjust production as a result of the scarcity of semiconductors. By and large, the automakers are prioritizing their high-margin vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, and cutting production of high-inventory vehicles—but nonetheless, that hasn’t prevented vehicles such as the Ford F-150 from seeing production cut back. Ford has adjusted production schedules at five of its North American plants, including at the Michigan Dearborn Truck Plant, Kansas City Assembly, Chicago Assembly, Louisville Assembly, and Oakville Assembly in Ontario, Canada. Those five plants assemble many vehicles, including the Ford Explorer , F-150 (in both Dearborn and Kansas City), Escape , and Edge , as well as the Lincoln Corsair , Nautilus , and Aviator . U.S. Automakers to Extend Production Shutdown At Ford’s crosstown rival, General Motors, the semiconductor shortage has had similar effects. Production at three plants has been adjusted, including Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City, CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, and San Luis Potosí Assembly in Mexico. These three plants are responsible for the Cadillac XT4 , the Chevrolet Malibu and Equinox , and the GMC Terrain . Two other plants, Ramos Arizpe Assembly in Mexico and Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, are building partially assembled vehicles; once the needed microchips are again available, those vehicles will be finished. These plants are responsible for the Chevrolet Colorado and Blazer as well as full-size Chevy and GMC vans. Because automakers are prioritizing their high-inventory vehicles, the shortage hasn't yet been reflected in the selection of vehicles reaching dealer lots. Nonetheless, this could change, and buyers could end up not being able to find the cars that they want, Kristin Dziczek, VP of research at the Center for Automotive Research, told Car and Driver in January. In North America, Stellantis—now the owner of FCA and Peugeot—has seen a number of plants adjust production including Toluca Car Assembly in Mexico, Brampton Assembly in Ontario, Belvidere Assembly in Illinois, and Windsor Assembly in Ontario. These four plants are responsible for the Dodge Journey , Charger , and Challenger , the Jeep Compass and Cherokee , and the Chrysler 300 , Pacifica , and Voyager . Toyota's Motor Manufacturing Texas plant in San Antonio Texas, where the Tacoma and the Tundra are assembled, has seen production disrupted as a result of the shortage. Toyota says that the Tundra is primarily affected. Volkswagen has adjusted production at its Puebla plant in Mexico, where the Jetta , Taos , and Tiguan are built; only the Jetta has been affected. Honda has seen production adjustments across the country, including two plants in Ohio, the East Liberty Auto Plant and Marysville Auto Plant, and also Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, and Honda of Canada Manufacturing in Ontario.


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While RIDDOR does not detail whether or not these workers were working alone, the increase in fatalities despite many projects being put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis could suggest that those that were working were at greater risk. How can construction companies protect their lone workers? While there are no specific health and safety regulations relating to lone workers, the HSE does mandate that employers have a clear duty of care towards their employees. This means that whenever workers are carrying out tasks alone, employers will need to put extra measures in place to ensure they’re meeting their legal obligations under health and safety regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work Act . Employers have a duty to include risks to lone workers in their general risk assessments, although many construction companies will already be carrying out fresh risk assessments due to COVID-19 . They should revisit and refresh their lone worker risk assessments at the same time, because the measures they put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 may impact the working environment for lone workers. An updated risk assessment may flag new risks to lone workers that require mitigation, such as working out of sight or earshot of others. This assessment – and action taken to address any identified issues – may also be required when submitting information on company policies and procedures in proposals and procurement questionnaires. Organisations must mitigate against any risks they identify in their risk assessments before any workers start working alone. While every lone worker will face unique risks, depending on the work they’re doing and the environment they’re working within, the HSE does provide some general guidance on how to protect lone workers. It advises employers to ‘train, supervise and monitor’ lone workers and ‘keep in touch with them and respond to any incident’. Within the construction industry, many businesses put this advice into practice by providing those that are working alone with a lone worker safety device or app that can alert others when lone workers are in potentially risky situations. However, while lone worker solutions can be incredibly effective in protecting people that are working alone, safety-conscious employers should explore all of the options that are available to them to find a solution that will provide the best protection for their workers. Not all solutions are equal, so there are certain features employers should look out for. Features like fall detection (which sends out an automatic alert when the device is immobilised for a certain period of time), a direct link to a dedicated 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre manned by specialists and the ability to pinpoint the device’s exact location can make a real difference more hints to a lone workers’ safety. Those who are working in a hazardous environment may also need a device that is ATEX-rated, as standard devices can create sparks that could catch fire in high-risk areas. While employers can and should put extensive policies and processes in place to ensure their workers’ health and safety, workers that are working alone must also be prepared to advocate for their own safety whenever they feel it’s necessary to do so. Even the most detailed risk assessments could miss some potential hazards, particularly as working environments are constantly changing due to COVID-19. So if a construction worker identifies a risk that they don’t feel they have adequate protection against, then they should flag it to their employer immediately.