Tower banner July, August (left)
Tower banner July, August (right)

Managing employee safety as an essential service

Interflow has changed the way its sites operate to keep employees safe while ensuring community needs are met during COVID-19.

While many Australians are staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic, those working in essential services like water and wastewater are out in the field ensuring community needs are met.

The site operations have changed dramatically in an effort to keep employees safe and ensure business continuity, and while a lot of companies are in uncharted territory as they deal with COVID-19, adaptability and communication have emerged as the best way forward. 

Water infrastructure specialist Interflow has adapted its operations to ensure it can continue to help solve customers’ problems in the field while also taking the necessary steps to protect its people. 

Interflow Executive Manager for Health Safety and Environment Adrian Smith explained the company was putting enterprise risk management plans in place for COVID-19 in February.

“COVID-19 has created significant changes to the way we work,” said Mr Smith.

“We’ve implemented a Business Continuity Plan with five response teams to identify and resolve critical issues around workforce protection, supply chain stabilisation, customer engagement, operational lead and lag management, and stress testing financials.”

By using similar parameters within its current health and safety strategy Harm 2 Zero (H2O), Interflow’s response teams meet twice a week to discuss any necessary issues and actions.   

These additional safety and procedural policies include implementing social distancing; reinforcing hygiene as a top consideration; providing COVID-19 appropriate level of PPE for workers; ensuring up-to-date signage across all sites; and giving teams the right information so they are across all new company procedures. 

“We’re currently developing a second communication pack for workers, with updated rules of engagement, and every week our Managing Director creates a video message to all employees,” said Mr Smith.   

“In this current situation, we are classed as essential and the most important thing is having our field teams across the details of what we are doing to manage this crisis.” 

Open communication has been key to Interflow’s response, with a focus on using appropriate channels to disseminate updates.

The business also ensures information not only cascades down to all frontline workers, but also any issues from work sites filter back up to management. 

With a workforce spanning Australia and New Zealand, Interflow has also been keeping on top of all health and government changes on a national and regional level to ensure the business remains compliant. 

“Our clients see us as a valuable business partner – as an essential function to assist with their continuity,” said Mr Smith.

“We’re here to solve our customers’ problems, we’re able to adapt, and our response to COVID-19 has allowed us to connect as one team quickly and efficiently.”

Interflow will conduct a post-implementation review once operations return to normal to capture key information of what worked and what didn’t, which will provide vital learnings for the future. 

For more information visit the Interflow website.

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless Australasia contact Journalist Sophie Venz at svenz@gs-press.com.au

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