Maintaining safe operations, while staying six feet apart

March 30, 2020

The safe, reliable delivery of energy is an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Enbridge launched work-at-home protocols for most of our workforce starting March 17, many of our colleagues engage in critical work that cannot be performed remotely—and that means coming up with inventive ways to complete work safely, while limiting interactions with others.

Terry, the area operations manager for Enbridge’s Sarnia Terminal in southwest Ontario, says terminal operations staff are “doing our best to maintain the six-foot distance and making sure to look out for and remind each other of these new ways of working . . . we’re definitely doing our best to minimize the risks.”

Some of the new procedures being implemented by teams at Enbridge’s Sarnia and Montreal terminals include:

  • Reorganizing coverage areas for electrical and mechanical technicians along pipeline rights-of-way, allowing them to focus on areas closest to their homes so that where possible they can avoid contact with others
  • Maintaining a six-foot distance while conducting field operations and maintenance in teams
  • Eliminating the need for face-to-face meetings by moving meetings to Skype, as well as outdoors when face-to-face interaction can’t be avoided
  • Using remote sign-in capability for contractors and visitors, using phones rather than face-to-face
  • Rearranging office space for terminal and field office teams
  • Providing lunches to work crews performing critical project work onsite, in order to mitigate worker travel and interaction with the public
  • Building in cleaning time so that workspaces can be disinfected before and after shifts
  • Assigning individual restrooms for terminal and field office employees
  • Installing door stoppers to minimize contact with door handles
  • Ensuring that stationery and other office supplies are no longer shared at field offices

“We know that it’s the small actions that we each take that helps to keep us safe, “says Yanick, who oversees electrical and mechanical operations at the Montreal Terminal. “And we’re certainly still focused on maintaining morale in this changing environment.”

In Montreal Terminal offices, images of successfully completed projects are tacked to the bulletin board to remind teams of the critical service being performed and reinforce a sense of pride and appreciation for one another.

Notes Terry: “One of our contractor companies hired a social distancing coach—a safety guy with a unique job description—whose main focus is to keep an eye on and remind us to stay six feet apart. You might need to speak a bit louder and if you are in a noisy environment it might be a bit difficult, but these conversations can work.”