Today I want to share some thoughts about the safety of our field workforce as it relates to COVID-19 exposure.
During a normal workday, B&M’ers in both the field and office manage a wide spectrum of workplace hazards. The level of risk that each person faces varies by activity, task and environment in which they work. Clearly, the hazards I face at my desk job are vastly different and almost insignificant compared to those facing each member of our field staff.
Regardless of the risk level, we apply the same set of safety rules to every situation to ensure that each individual is properly equipped with the tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), training and hazard mitigation strategies to eliminate or control risks and work as safely and productively as possible.
Facing the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our workplace is no different. We are applying the principles of our health and safety (H&S) management system with the assistance of medical professionals to create the best infection control methodologies possible including hygiene and cleaning processes, PPE protocols and physical distancing strategies for our field forces.
Infection control begins with keeping people with any signs of sickness away from our jobsites and work crews. Please be mindful of potential symptoms and remain at home if you are unwell.
After isolation, hygiene is our best and most important defense against COVID-19 in our offices, field sites and homes. Obsessive hand-washing and diligent cleaning of tools, phones, and commonly-touched shared work surfaces (including vehicles) offers each of us the greatest protection from infection.
Physical distancing is a strategy focused primarily on keeping the unwell away from the well. For those at work, we are trying to keep people more apart to prevent a person who is infected but doesn’t realize it yet from unwittingly spreading the virus to others.
While the virus hazard is present everywhere and our mitigation plans for personal and workplace hygiene are similar, we apply different physical distancing strategies according to what people do and where they can work. In our offices, we have limited physical interaction by moving people to their homes, spreading people out, limiting meeting sizes, and mandating social and physical spacing.
Because of the nature of what we do, some of our office strategies are simply not feasible for our field and shop workforce. Obviously a tradesperson cannot work from home and only a few roles afford field people the opportunity to avoid human interaction. So we have deployed new site safety guidelines for our jobsites and mobile workforce with the stated objective:
To ensure B&M workers, sub-contractors & visitors understand the methods and practices put in place to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community and reduce the risk of exposure within our workplace.
Government H&S inspectors have made unannounced visits to various B&M sites in recent days and confirmed, during each review, that our methods are sound.
But I want people to not only be safe but also to feel safe. So we are actively monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and will deploy refreshed guidelines as conditions change and any new information about the virus, its transmission, and impacts, become available. For example, we are currently rolling out the broader use of masks, shields & gloves in the field, particularly where physical spacing is difficult to achieve.
If you are uncomfortable with a certain job site condition or work scenario or have a potential improvement, please speak with either your H&S representative or your operations supervisor. We are also actively fielding concerns and suggestions at [email protected].
As an owner of our company, I take my employer obligations for occupational health and safety very seriously. I assure you that B&M is currently employing every practical method and control at our disposal to limit the COVID-19 exposure risk for all our staff.
Please ensure you are doing your part to protect yourself and your colleagues from virus risk and the other hazards that you manage on a daily basis.