“Obviously we’re taking all the precautions we can but we still have to do our jobs to keep customers’ lights on.”
That’s how Jeff Mann, Manager of Systems Operations, puts it when asked how his 18 Systems Operations technicians are doing their jobs in an era of social distancing and PPEs.
“My guys are very independent,” he adds. “We have some customer interactions but we try to limit proximity,” says Mann, whose crews work 24/7 shifts in responding to outages and downed power poles.
For Mann’s techs and the 84 crew members on the Construction & Maintenance teams under Managers Chris Taylor and Rick Taylor (no relation), working remotely is nothing new. But with the coronavirus outbreak posing a threat to OUC’s operational reliability, extraordinary measures have been put in place to protect essential workers like line techs from the spread of pandemic.
Most techs are now traveling alone in OUC trucks, and they’re trying to keep their distance from each other while working together, though that’s not always practical on some jobs. Their trucks have been outfitted with supplies of hand sanitizer, antibacterial hand soap, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial wipes and latex gloves. And, an extra water keg was added to some trucks for techs to use as hand-washing station.
While out in the field, tech crews are posting yard signs that say:
ESSENTIAL CREWS AT WORK
Please keep a safe 6-foot distance
The same signs have been posted on some OUC line trucks, too.
“We’re trying to cover all the bases to keep our guys safe,” says Chris Taylor.
Recently, Taylor met with Maggie Burdette, Manager of Business Process Improvement, to get her input on how he could keep his five- to six-member crews isolated from one another as well as from other employees and outside contractors when they’re at Gardenia and Pershing.
“If one crew member is exposed to the virus, the whole crew is quarantined,” says Taylor. “We want to minimize the chance of sidelining multiple crews because crew members from different teams work in close proximity to each other.”