SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Honeywell will add 500 new jobs as it steps up manufacturing operations in Smithfield to produce N95 face masks to help the federal government respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
The news comes as states around the country, including Rhode Island, are scrambling to get supplies of masks, gowns, and other protective equipment needed by healthcare workers dealing with the global pandemic.
President Donald Trump mentioned Honeywell during a news conference on Sunday.
“The outpouring from the private sector has also been extraordinary,” Trump said. “I’m pleased to report that Honeywell, great company, has just announced it will immediately expand its personal protective equipment manufacturing operations in Rhode Island to produce millions of additional N95 masks.”
The masks will be added to a national stockpile and delivered to various states, he said.
“This expansion is already underway and it’s going to provide a lot of jobs for that state, probably around 500," Trump said. "This expansion is in addition to Honeywell’s action to more than double production of its existing personal protective equipment manufacturing plants. They make a lot of different things and they’re doubling and tripling their production. They’re going round the clock.”
In a news release, Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk said, “We are honored to support the U.S. government’s efforts to protect Americans with personal protective equipment made right here in the United States. Our Rhode Island facility already produces industry-leading safety gear and soon will play a critical role in supplying the Strategic National Stockpile with N95 masks.”
N95 masks provide respiratory protection and “reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. “N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95 percent of particles in the air, including large and small particles.”
Honeywell said it will begin immediately recruiting, hiring, and training manufacturing workers for the new production line.
The company’s Smithfield factory opened in 1980 and produces safety glasses, safety goggles, and protective face shields.
Honeywell, a Fortune 100 company, makes personal protective equipment including hazardous gas detectors, safety software, and personal protective equipment such as gloves, protective eyewear, respiratory protection, safety suits, hard hats, and boots.