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COVID-19 Safety & Health Update for Employees

Updated February 24, 2021

On February 12, 2021, Dr. Fitzgerald shared an update that the B.1.1.7 variant of the COVID-19 virus is in Newfoundland and Labrador. Because of the ease of transmission with this variant, Dr. Fitzgerald immediately moved the province to Alert Level 5.

We are working to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, and in the interest of our collective safety, we are asking employees to not visit buildings unless you are undertaking critical work and following consultation with your manager or supervisor.

As you can appreciate, this situation is evolving and we will be updating you as decisions are made and we receive further direction from Public Health.

Access to Nalcor Facilities and Buildings

There have been many changes to the public health requirements around self-isolation since the outbreak in the St. John’s-Metro region caused by the UK COVID-19 variant. As such, we have seen many people in the St. John’s area in isolation over the past two weeks, including numerous Nalcor employees.
To ensure we are aligned with the changes from Public Health we will be making some alterations to our Daily Health Screening process. This will help ensure that employees and contractors who may be subject to these requirements are made aware prior to accessing our facilities and buildings. In the meantime, please take the time to make yourself aware of the self-isolation requirements available on the Government of NL COVID-19 website https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/self-isolation/

Work Under Alert Level 5/Emergency Level 2
Since the last communication, we have had some questions around what constitutes work that can continue ‘safely’ in Alert Level 5 and under Emergency Level 2. Because of the nature of our essential service provision, we are obligated to complete all work that can be safely executed. I assure everyone that over the past 11 months, we have built upon the knowledge we have gained and are adapting where necessary to ensure we are able to continue operations while also ensuring the health and safety of our employees. Therefore:
1.        Anyone who can effectively work from home shall do so until further notice.
2.        Work that can proceed safely, maintaining the requirements of Corporate Emergency Level 2 and the guidance given by the CMOH and using our internal safe work procedures measures, can proceed. This may include work done by outside contractors.
3.        Work that cannot meet these requirements until protocols are modified to allow safe execution can be delayed until it is safe to do so.

As has been done in the past, consultation with supervisors and managers is required to evaluate if and how work tasks can be executed safely. This relationship and open communication will be the cornerstone of executing work while keeping you all safe.

Dr. Fitzgerald has been clear that the same measures to prevent transmission of the original strain of COVID, also apply to the variant. These include hand washing, sanitizing of surfaces, physical separation wherever possible, the use of face masks and other PPE as required. All the measures are in place at Nalcor sites, and will continue to keep people safe on our sites. And, we will continue to evolve our control measures as new information is available from Public Health.

COVID-19 Testing for Movement Between Regions
Due to the ongoing outbreak, we are implementing mandatory COVID-19 testing for any employee or contractor required to travel between regions. This testing process will be reassessed in line with Public Health guidance. Employees or contractors travelling to the Muskrat Falls site will continue to follow the established testing procedure for the site.

Business Travel (Update)
As a continuation of our initial communication on February 10th, starting tomorrow (Feb 25), and continuing until March 11th, we will continue to limit travel on/off the Avalon to essential/critical work only. Anyone with travel planned during this time should speak with your manager or supervisor to confirm or make alternative arrangements.Any work that can be delayed until after March 11th should be rescheduled.  We recognize these measures are not ideal, however the measures recommended by Public Health officials can help stop the spread of the virus across the province.  We will continue to review and adapt our internal guidance and control measures in accordance with Public Health guidance, and as the current level of risk in the province decreases.

 

Previous Updates

Corporate Pandemic Response Plan

With the province moving to Alert Level 5, we have reverted to Emergency Level 2 of our Corporate Pandemic Response Plan. At this stage we move to work from home measures where possible, implement pandemic pay codes and update Business Continuity Plans. The Pandemic Response Plan can be found in the COVID-19 section on the GRID.

Pandemic Pay Codes

Last week we re-implemented Pandemic Time Sheet codes for employees  in St. John’s-Metro. When Dr. Fitzgerald announced Alert Level 5 province-wide, the codes can now be used by employees across the province. The codes are currently available in time sheets and will be revisited in two weeks.

Code 30 – Use this code if you are sick and experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Code 31 – Use this code if you are impacted by the current public health restrictions and are (1) unable to work due to childcare obligations, (2) need to balance work and childcare obligations or (3) caring for an immediate family member who is ill with COVID-19.  Use of this code must be approved by the supervisor, in consultation with HR as needed.

Code 32 – Use this code if you are required to isolate (or isolate with a family member), but not symptomatic and are working from home.

Code 33 – Use this code if you are required to isolate (or isolate with a family member), but not symptomatic and cannot work from home.

Work From Home

Due to the rapid increase in cases and the province moving to Alert Level 5, all employees who are able to work from home should do so. Although the majority of new cases are linked to a COVID-19 variant, Dr. Fitzgerald has been clear in recent briefings that the same measures still apply to keep people safe (i.e. wearing a non-medical mask, physical distancing, sanitizing/washing hands frequently, etc.). Dr. Fitzgerald was also clear that the risk isn’t from buildings, it’s from interactions with people where proper measures aren’t followed. Rest assured that all of the measures Dr. Fitzgerald listed in her recent briefings to keep people safe are all measures we currently have in place across our work sites.

For those who cannot work from home, please consult with your manager or supervisor; priority and maintenance work will continue as our operations are an essential service. We have learned a great deal since last year, and our safety protocols have evolved with us. Any work that can be done safely and is deemed low risk may continue provided it can be done safely, following a risk assessment and in consultation with your manager or supervisor.

Rest assured, we take this new variant and the situation very seriously and will engage work with your safety top of mind. As mentioned yesterday, this is an evolving situation, and we know many of you will have questions. We will continue to adapt and update you as more information becomes available or as the situation changes.

Business Continuity Plans

To best ensure we are able to successfully navigate any changes that may come about due to Public Health directives, we are asking that all areas revisit their Business Continuity Plans. Please make any revisions that are necessary, ensure your plans are adequate for our current situation and once updated please re-submit to PatsyDymond@nlh.nl.ca

If you are updating your plan, the toolkit is still available on the GRID in the COVID-19 section.

Daily Health Screening Update

With the change to Public Health guidelines, our Daily Health Screening Tool has been updated to reflect the change to ONE new or worsening symptom from the previous TWO symptoms assessing the need for testing. All employees, visitors and contractors should note this change as it will limit access to our facilities.

Self-Isolation Resources and Requirements

If you, or a family member, are required to self-isolate there are a number of resources available to you.

The Canadian Red Cross is available to assist anyone who does not have a place to self-isolate, or those who are in self-isolation and need help accessing essentials such as food and medication. Contact the Canadian Red Cross Self-isolation Helpline at 1-800-863-6582.

There are many scenarios surrounding self-isolation, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website outlines what you need to do in your particular circumstance – whether it is you or a family member self-isolating, if you are awaiting test results and what to do when your receive them.

You can find all that, and more, information at https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/self-isolation/

Download the COVID app

If you have not already downloaded the COVID Alert app, we encourage you to do so. It is an easy, and effective way to help reduce the spread of the virus. It is available for free through the Apple or Google Play app stores.

Pandemic Supply Inventory

As a reminder, the Pandemic Inventory Guide Sheet is available to assist employees in understanding and ordering pandemic items for your departments and areas. This inventory is housed at various warehouse locations and will require placing an order in JDE1 using either the Sales Order or Work Order method to securing Pandemic related inventory items. This information can be found on the GRID in the Supply Chain – Shared Services Section.

COVID-19 Related Questions

We encourage anyone who has a specific COVID-19 related question to complete the self-assessment tool on the 811 HealthLine website: https://www.811healthline.ca/covid-19-self-assessment/  or visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 website: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/

Staying Safe At Work

We have been fortunate since re-opening our buildings last year that our case numbers have remained low and because of that many of us have had moments of complacency. When you’re back to work with colleagues on a regular basis, it’s easy enough to consider yourself in a “work bubble.” Unfortunately, what this latest series of cases has reminded us is that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away no matter how normal our world began to feel. Right now we have to keep our contacts as low as absolutely possible, and that means we need to follow Public Health guidelines.

For those of you who provide critical work and will continue to be at our worksites, it is important to follow the guidelines put out by Public Health.

  • Wear a mask except when you are in your office or cubicle.
  • Follow the directional signage in hallways.
  • Avoid in-person meetings. If you do need to meet ensure you are in a space that allows for proper physical distancing.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Remember to sanitize any surface you touch in common areas like kitchens and meeting rooms and disinfect your work station at the end of every shift.
  • If you do see a co-worker in the hallway and want to chat, please move to an area where people can pass you while maintaining physical distance.
  • Wear the proper PPE where appropriate.