SUEK's energy facilities measures against COVID-19 development

20 April 2020
Kirill Krutikov, HR Director of SUEK’s Energy Segment, outlined three possible scenarios that would be used at the company's facilities in the event of COVID-19 development and talks about preventive measures. 

– Two weeks of quarantine are over, but, according to experts and authorities, Russia has not yet reached the peak of the epidemic. Is the company's management ready for a possible tightening of quarantine conditions in the territories of operations?
– We are ready for any events, even the most negative. Our company has developed a plan to control the spread of the COVID-19 comprising three main scenarios. The first one is 'increased readiness', that is, if there is a threat of infection (as we can see now), but no cases have been recorded at our power plants and in their immediate proximity. Under this scenario, the company cancelled all business trips and staff movements within the same region.

  The second scenario is the alarm one, if isolated infection cases are recorded at our power plants, but the hotbed is localised. In this case, all movements of our employees' relatives should be monitored. We are ready for this and understand how to do this.

  Finally, the last, worst case emergency scenario is mass infection, total quarantine, if sick days are taken by numerous employees. In this case, the maximum isolation plan is enacted; we will create all the conditions required to arrange the temporary accommodation and meals for our operational staff at our power plants and provide full protection against external infection threats.

  For the last scenario, we are setting up a reserve to ensure staff rotation in the event of pandemic development and massive infection of employees. This work organisation system will help us maintain our facilities in operating condition.

– How is the operational staff protected at SUEK’s power plants?
– Most importantly, we split the flows: coming to work and going to the canteen. We try to avoid crowding at the checkpoint and in public places, to minimise any contact. In some cases, we apply floor markings, just like in retail shops, to indicate a safe distance (1.5–2 metres). In the event of an unfavourable scenario, separation requirements will be tightened, up to the complete closure of our canteens. We also regularly and frequently disinfect all workplaces. All employees have been given disinfectants to wipe the surfaces they touch. In order to minimise contact and protect employees, access to control panels of our power plants is now allowed only to shift personnel using protective equipment.

– By the way, describe the situation with protective equipment provided to employees.
– A mask is an important thing, but if you observe a social distance of 2 metres, it becomes secondary. Masks are needed where people are in close contact. Today, first of all, masks are issued to operational personnel. If the situation worsens, respirators with protection class FFP2 and FFP3 will be used. We plan to purchase up to 500,000 masks in order to ensure the stock until the situation is completely stabilised.

– How does our staff get to work?
– At the moment, the transportation of employees is arranged where the risk level is regarded as increased. In other cases, we ask our people to cooperate and get to the workplace by personal transport. We see that employees from one shift or one department come to work and leave in an organised way. If the situation gets worse, as I said, we will be forced to move to full autonomy. In this case, no transport will be needed as we will create for our staff all the conditions to live inside the plants or in their immediate vicinity.

– How do you exercise medical control?
– At all plants, we run medical and paramedic health posts. Medical control begins at the checkpoint using thermometry and then continues at the workplace.

How often, based on the results of medical check-ups and thermometry, are employees suspended from work?
– Every day, around 10 people are sent home. For example, today, at one of our plants, three people were not allowed to work because of a fever.

Are there any psychological difficulties in the team related to the growing pandemic?
– Of course, there is a certain anxiety. In order to reassure people, we established a hotline to answer all questions of our employees and give prompt feedback. All the heads of our plants and branches recorded video messages and found the right words of support for their teams. HR Directorate also regularly communicates with the staff through various feedback tools, answers questions and helps in difficult situations that may arise due to the new working conditions.

– In addition to the fear of infection, do employees fear future economic problems?
–Certainly, and we explain that there are no serious reasons for concern now. We work as usual. Employees should not worry about delays in the payment of salaries or their reduction. At the same time, employees should understand that the management has the right to expect higher labour productivity from them. External conditions, including the lower solvency of our consumers and an increase in accounts receivable, pose certain economic risks. The only way out is to improve efficiency. Only in this case will the pandemic have no serious economic consequences.

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