A few days after the year 2019 ended, the world was shaken by the news that a new virus has caused a big health problem in China. People in other parts of the world including Americans can only express worries and prayers for those affected in Asia. But the thought of contracting the virus ourselves was no less than a wild idea at that time. Even the world Health Organization (WHO) did not consider the situation as alarming as it is today.

Everything seemed normal until news of the virus infecting and killing people in Europe, and other parts of Asia broke out a few weeks later which was a wakeup call. People began to worry how the coronavirus outbreak could change our everyday lives in the coming days.

And then our worst fears began to unfold. The coronavirus invaded America and started infecting and killing people. Indeed, the outbreak did trigger changes in everything including people’s behaviors. Businesses regardless of industry have to make certain modifications in their operational processes to be able to adjust to abnormal conditions.

As directional boring contractors, we know for sure that things would change during the pandemic. Although our business is not labor-intensive, we still need skilled men to operate our machinery. Despite the threat brought to us by the coronavirus outbreak, we are still determined to go on with our projects for as long as the government permits us. For this reason, we decided to make changes in our operational plans and the manner we execute them.

These are the drilling procedures that we came up with in order to continue with our work during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Create a Procedure that Minimizes the Risks of Coronavirus Transmission with Minimal Effect on Efficiency

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered abnormal operating conditions for horizontal directional drilling contractors. The situation prompts us to create an appropriate set of procedures to minimize the risks of infection in the workplace.

Isolation of Crews

We divide our crews into two-man teams with each tandem confined in one vehicle. This will prevent our men from crowding in one place. We do this to be able to apply social distancing and to decrease the risk of viral transmission.

Assign Separate Bays for Each Team in the Shop

This is another measure that we do in response to the medical experts’ call for social distancing. Even if we know that our workers are not manifesting any flu-like symptoms, it is still imperative for us to make sure that no one in our company will be an agent for transmitting the virus. We separate our men physically from one another by at least six feet. It can certainly help to prevent transmission by coughing, sneezing, or even talking.

Provide Clean Water and Soap for Our Workers to Use

We encourage our workers to wash their hands frequently with soap and clean running water as frequently as possible during their working hours.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the coronavirus can be passed on from one person to another by means of contact transmission. This means you can possibly get the virus if you happen to come into contact with a surface that’s been previously touched by an infected person. Once you place your unclean hand near your mouth, nose or eyes, you can possibly get the virus.

Provide Our Shop and Trucks with Disinfectant Solution

We keep disinfectant solution available and ready for our men to use while they are in the shop or at their work site. We make sure that our disinfectant will work effectively by using CDC-approved brands. In the absence of disinfectant, we use a 60% alcohol solution to disinfect our hands and any surface we suspect is contaminated.

Provide Our Men with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Face Masks and Coveralls

Aside from maintaining a safe distance from other people, we impose the wearing of face mask and coverall as this can certainly help to prevent transmission. This is the new normal working procedure related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We should adopt to it to keep our men safe.

Close Our Office to Prevent Walk-in Traffic

We keep our office closed at all times while the pandemic is still up to prevent walk-in traffic. We don’t allow anyone from the outside to enter our office and we put up signs to tell visitors why our doors are locked. We also let them know that we continue providing our services.

We encourage our customers to communicate with us through telephone. We also instruct our workers to communicate with our office staff through a designated office window.

Make Our Workers Aware of Our New Procedures and Provide Training as Needed

  • Inform workers of their respective partners, trucks, and bays
  • Teach workers the appropriate hand washing technique
  • Teach workers the proper way to wear PPE such as face mask and coverall
  • Teach workers about the importance of washing coveralls and proper disposal of used disposable face masks after each shift

Teach workers about the additional routines which will become the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes:

  • Pre-screening of workers prior to the start of each shift (temperature check, disinfecting, etc.)
  • Regular self-monitoring of temperature during the shift
  • Compulsory wearing of face mask in the workplace
  • Implementation of social distancing even during break periods
  • Compulsory cleaning and disinfecting of workspaces

Additional points for consideration:

  • Employees are not allowed to share headsets or gadgets that are placed near the nose or mouth
  • Employees are encouraged to increase the frequency or disinfecting or cleaning commonly touched surfaces
  • Encourage facilities staff to improve room ventilation or air exchange in the workplace

Implement the Procedure

After a dry-run and once we were confident that our workers are educated and properly trained with our COVID-19 avoidance procedures, it’s time for us to implement those in the real work scenario. As you may have guessed, it certainly makes our workers awkward and ill-at-ease in the beginning. But for the safety of everyone, and to enable us to give what we can to society, we have to force ourselves to live with it as our new normal procedures. After all, it’s what we need to do to continue with our business operations.

Before we began implementing our new procedures, we made it a point to make sure that all of our workers are equally safe and protected. To make this possible, we adopted a few guidelines from the CDC as it can help to prevent the movement of coronavirus:

  • Employees that become sick during the day are sent home immediately.
  • Employees are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their respective workspaces before each shift starts and ends.
  • We do contact tracing on people who the sick worker came into contact with from 2 days before he manifested symptoms until the last minute prior to his isolation. Other workers who had been within 6 feet from that sick employee are deemed exposed.

While it is our earnest desire to continue providing services to our valued clients, we also want everyone, including our workers to be safe from the coronavirus. It is precisely the reason why we created our new drilling procedures.

Should you need the services of experienced and responsible horizontal directional drilling contractors, feel free to contact us at (303) 475-8420.