One of the biggest challenges of implementing safety procedures for the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that this virus is brand new and we had to create new safety standards in order to properly deal with it. In this podcast, Kassie Koser, our Safety Director, discusses how COVID-19 has affected our work at Wm. T. Spaeder, talking about specific precautions we implemented to ensure the safety of both ourselves and our customers.
In March 2020, Wm. T. Spaeder had to close down 70% of its projects due to government mandate during the pandemic. As a result, there were some temporary lay-offs and more people telecommuting to increase social distancing.
Many of our customers, such as hospitals and food manufacturers, were deemed “essential services” and could continue to operate. Our service teams also remained relatively busy, making sure the mechanical systems of our various commercial, residential, and industrial customers continued in proper working order. Of course, safety measures were put in place to help protect both our employees and customers.
For example, in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, all plumbers and HVAC technicians wore half mask tight fitting respirators in order to prevent both contracting and transmitting the disease. For service calls, though we did not always have the luxury to pre-plan, all potential customers were pre-screened (similar to all of our employees) to make sure the risk of contracting COVID-19 was minimal. We also tried to keep everything “paperless” to minimize person to person contact. We feel that our service techs did a phenomenal job of being professional, safe and reassuring our customers that the proper measures were being taken.
Since Erie slowly moved out of the “Red Phase” – or phase with highest government mandated restrictions – to the “Yellow Phase” in early May 2020, we’ve been able to resume most of our work and hire back our furloughed employees. Even so, our safety measures have not changed much. The Yellow Phase still requires enhanced safety precautions such as continued social distancing, use of masks, body temperature monitoring (in case of fever), and hand sanitization. If people can work remotely, they continue to work remotely. While we’re glad to be back to work, the delays due to COVID-19 put many of our projects behind, so it has been a unique challenge to catch up.
One thing that the Coronavirus has done is give workers a renewed sense of urgency in regard to safety and helped to reinforce that though there is a pandemic, other safety measures are just as if not more important to understand and follow. This is particularly true because of the inherent challenges of working while wearing a mask. Masks can be hot and uncomfortable. Therefore, it is more important than ever to understand and follow all safety measures and take the necessary steps to prevent accidents.
Moving forward, we’re happy to be back to work and look forward to a productive, safe summer ahead.