As restaurants, stores and businesses begin to reopen, our commitment to safety and the well-being of our employees is stronger than ever. Throughout the pandemic, teams across our company have been upholding our number one value of safety, to ensure the continued safe and reliable operations of our assets and ongoing construction work. Some of these committed individuals have had to remain physically at work every day with some even volunteering to self-isolate away from their families and communities.
We are sharing a few of the stories from those working in the field or living in isolation, whose unwavering commitment to safety has ensured the energy people, hospitals and businesses rely on, has been and will continue to be delivered as the economy begins to reopen.
Thanks to robust business continuity plans, gas control teams across North America were able to quickly enact pre-emptive measures to protect the safety and health of control room staff. As part of this, a call went out to control room teams for volunteers to enter ‘group sequestration’, or group isolation.
“All employees who are working in the control center volunteered to work at the remote site. The response and dedication from all teams – knowing the sacrifices they and their families would make for 30 days at a time, in a time of crisis – was overwhelming,” says Mike Armstrong, Manager, Canada Gas Control.
The control room staff are a unique group of employees with highly specialized skills, which means that not anyone can do their job. It was imperative that extraordinary actions like group sequestration were taken to keep them healthy and safe.
Sequestered control room staff are not permitted to go home or physically see family and friends. However, some notable efforts were made so that the group had all the creature comforts of home. From prepared meal delivery and desired snacks to entertainment options, control room staff are well taken care of as they concentrate on keeping the gas flowing through our network of pipelines across North America.
Developing and executing a Gas Control Wellness Plan that focused on the continued emotional, psychological and social well-being of our gas controllers was also a top priority. According to Gabriela Arellano, Mexico Human Resources Director, “The development of the wellness plan came out as a concern of the company to guarantee our employees’ well-being. All these elements impact the way we think, feel, and act. They determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices every day.”
The Gas Control Wellness Plan consists of three main pillars:
Ulises Molina, one of our gas controllers in Mexico, told us how his experience has been during these times. "We have felt accompanied since day one when we arrived in our new locations. Everything we need is here for our daily life and to make this place more comfortable.”
The first two weeks of sequestration were like moving into a new house and starting a new job. There are plenty of things to get used to, all with a tight timeline of expected understanding. I couldn’t be prouder of the controllers for adapting so quickly to this new environment and dealing with ever-changing news and direction every day, while being out of their comfort zones.”
- Rob Park, Gas Control Supervisor
SCADA team members have reported that they feel safe and well taken care of. A few members took the time away to catch up on reading and other hobbies. I am impressed with how the team is not only supporting and working alongside the operators, but fully leveraging the opportunity to witness a day in the life of the control center."
- Nathan Wong, Manager, Central SCADA
Our field workers are overcoming challenges like never before, as they adapt to life in the field amidst COVID-19. One example of this comes from our Canada Gas Operations team in southern Alberta. The team recently completed their first maintenance project at a compressor station on the NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) system, in the middle of the pandemic. Similar to other operations and construction work across our company, maintenance work is deemed essential as it plays an important role in maintaining the safety and reliability of our pipeline systems.
The obstacle of COVID-19 required the team to quickly adapt to all health and safety measures recommended by authorities to keep employees and the community safe.
The safety measures, outlined in a Job Safety Analysis, were distributed to team members every morning and are outlined below. Although some restrictions have been relaxed in other parts of the economy, the following safety measures will continue to play a vital role in the continued health and safety of our field staff.
When asked what made this project successful, team members overwhelmingly agreed that in addition to the preventative safety measures that were put in place, working together as a team allowed them to rise above this very challenging situation.
"During the few days I was onsite, I felt comfortable because of the awesome job the leads did with all the planning, mitigation measures and execution at site," says Collin Schafer, Field Technician.
"I am inspired by the efforts and leadership demonstrated by our technicians and numerous support teams from across our organization,” says Agustin Barrenechea, Director, Canada Gas Operations. “The attention to detail during this project and other similar work has and will enable our organization to do amazing things."