ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 28, 2020 — New York has been the hardest hit state in the most affected country in the world due to the novel coronavirus. With the photonics and optics industry deemed essential business by the state government, several companies have responded by shifting supply manufacturing or aiding employees and families with paid sick time and supplying sanitizers and face masks. Notably, Sydor Optics upped its manufacturing of optical components for life science institutions from 100 to 150 units; the University of Rochester has had several research groups work on testing kits; and Vertex Optics has offered its employees free face masks and implemented a regimented hand-washing and cleaning schedule.
Optimax Systems has also taken on more responsibilities for its employees and shared these details with Photonics Media.
“Optimax stands behind the philosophy that we are all in this together, whether it is COVID-19 or any challenge that lies ahead,” the company said in a statement. “During this global pandemic, Optimax has supported its employees in multiple ways to help get through these challenging times.”
As is the case with several companies during this time, Optimax has allowed employees who are capable to continue working virtually, helping to limit the number of people in the Optimax facility. The company has also provided interest-free loans to help employees bridge personal financial challenges. Optimax offered all employees an interest-free loan of up to $2000. Approximately 20 employees have used this loan to date. Optimax said it had also applied early in the process for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, ensuring that furloughs and layoffs were not required.
Optimax also decided to use its signature tie-dye design from its T-shirts to design face masks for employees. The masks are made with three layers that include blue cotton duck cloth, polypropylene (used in N95 respirators), and an inner cloth layer, designed for maximum protection while not using medical-grade masks needed for health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
Optimax stressed in its statement that safety was a critical factor in its response, which included adding advanced infrared camera systems to monitor the body temperature of anyone entering the building. The company also established a volunteer cleaning and disinfecting team of 12 employees from all three of its shifts. The team has created detailed cleaning protocols and schedules while executing them each day to keep the facility clean.
“Communication is key,” Optimax said. “In addition to weekly emails from our internal leadership team, we have also created a series of video messages from our CEO Rick Plympton highlighting key topics, an employee hotline number, customized website pages for updates, and an ongoing question and answer point person for any employee that has questions at any time.”
The company has also used social media as a way to help its employees, customers, and supporters stay updated on operational changes, messages from the CEO, and sharing what others are doing both globally and locally. The company also provided a list of activities focusing on STEM topics for kids to do at home during the pandemic.
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