A SPECIALIST components firm is switching production to parts for respiratory devices and face masks to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

MGS Technical Plastics in Davyfield Road, Blackburn, is continuing to manufacture for the safety, medical, hygiene and baby industries.

The 57 staff at the factory have now prioritised production for industries supplying items including parts for respiratory devices for one of the world’s largest industry safety manufacturers.

It is also going through testing for the production of tools to manufacture filtration housings to upgrade standard face masks to a more effective product during the Covid-19 pandemic.

John Sturgess, managing director, said: “We have a commitment to our customers to supply crucially needed products. Safety is vital and the team effort has been exceptional.

"We are are really proud that we have been able to keep supplying to customers who are clearly doing very important work to help deal with this international crisis. We’ve taken steps to continue being a responsible employer working within the restrictions.

"Like other businesses we’ve found it really tough. The uncertainty and fear can’t be underestimated. We’ve made sure that people are kept up to date on all the latest guidance and listened to concerns.”

He said that while essential manufacturing is continuing, the company has adapted to protect employees in line with the latest government guidance including social distancing and increased cleaning frequency.

Staff who can’t work from home and are not able to work on the priority products were asked to go on furlough last week.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is superb.

"It achieves two things. It is putting our expert East Lancashire manufacturing capability to good and it is enabling a firm to keep paying its employees as a time when some of its normal products are not suitable for the current climate of crisis. It is brilliant to see this company adapting to conditions and keep going."

Cllr Damian Talbot, Blackburn with Darwen Council health and wellbeing boss, said: "‘It’s great to see a local firm doing it’s bit to help us protect those on the frontline in the current pandemic. I congratulate John and the MGS team for their efforts to support those working to save lives. They are a credit to Blackburn."

Mr Sturgess said MGS Technical Plastics, established in 1977, had adapted in a fast-changing environment thanks to experience and flexibility.

He said: "This has meant we were able to maintain a consistent supply of plastic components needed by customers in crisis situations including those in medical, construction and defence industries.

"In times of war, the company has manufactured and developed a suite of tools to produce crucial telecommunications defence equipment for the British and US military."