Tower crane giant puts in motion a raft of targeted QHSE steps in offices, job-sites, worker accommodation and transport to prevent spread of disease
Tower crane specialist NFT has taken several measures to protect its customers and employees from the dangers of Covid-19, including drawing up QHSE plans and modifying its operational methods, conducting awareness campaigns in its offices and on client job-sites as well as monitoring the implementation of health safety steps.
A statement from Abu Dhabi-based NFT, the world’s largest Potain dealer with a global footprint, said the company is “committed to our customers, employees and communities” when “the biggest challenges faced by companies during this crisis is ensuring business continuity while ensuring, with equal weight, the safety of employees”.
“Our QHSE department has been monitoring the developments around the COVID-19 pandemic and NFT is strictly implementing all the recommendations from trusted sources who are experts in this field, such as the Department of Health in the UAE, World Health Organisation (WHO), or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The health and safety of our employees and customers are and have always been our number one priority,” said the statement.
As a first step, NFT conducted risk assessments according to the scientific recommendations to tackle the hazards. “From a very early stages, we set up a Crises Management Committee formed from out top management, QHSE, administration, operations, and HR departments. The job of this committee is to follow up on the current situation, development of COVID-19, contact with UAE officials, contact with our sister companies overseas, and to come up with measures in line with official recommendations.”
The second step for NFT was to conduct awareness sessions, and the company ran more than 15 such sessions to disseminate information and educate, in several languages, all stakeholders about the virus and methods to control its spread.
“We made sure that the sessions were tailored to each vocation. Special sessions and trainings were conducted with sanitation people and drivers, or the more vulnerable groups who can be more exposed as per our risk assessment surveys. In addition, flyers, posters, videos, and publications were circulated wherever possible inside the offices, workshop, vehicles, and even labour camps dormitories,” the statement said.
NFT adjusted its modus operandi and adopted several work procedures according to international recommendations and mitigation measures mandated by governments. The highest risk of transmission occurs while commuting to work or living in labour camps that have high concentrations of people and to minimise risk in such environments, NFT adopted several work policies, such as organising worker commutes according to the UAE authorities’ directives and following 30% occupancy in all vehicles.
“Effectively, it means we tripled our bus trips to labour camps, we increased our fleet of small vehicles and minibuses. In addition, we added separate plastic sheets inside buses in order to separate drivers from passengers. Each vehicle in use is also disinfected at least twice a day or as necessary.”
With workers’ accommodations posing another threat of the pandemic’s spread, NFT said it has exerted huge efforts to ensure screening of its entire workforce and implementing extra precautions in collaboration with accommodation management and government authorities.
“On site and in our workshop, all teams were divided into segregated groups that work in isolation from each other. Our QHSE team is closely monitoring all workers in our workshop by testing their temperature and ensuring they are wearing full PPE. In case any symptoms appear on any of the team members, the one with symptoms would go for testing, while the others in the same team would be sent to self-isolation until further verification. Meanwhile, the job would be carried out with another group, hence keeping workflow uninterrupted,” said NFT.
Similar measures are in force in NFT’s head office, including social distancing and, wherever possible, working from home. Where coming to office is essential, NFT said it has “restructured the office distribution as to maintain necessary social distancing as recommended”. An infrared gun thermometer placed at the reception checks the temperatures of all those entering the premises and a special team is deployed for disinfecting all surfaces, office appliances, doorknobs, handles, restroom facilities, round the clock during working hours. Paper circulation has also been reduced to a minimum, and when necessary special disinfected plastic files are being used to carry papers. Masks and gloves are also being distributed according to the risk analysis.
On client job-sites, while tower crane operators, by nature of their occupation, are mostly in isolation in the crane cabins, they have been provided with instructions and disinfection material to be applied whenever there is a rotation of shift, at which point the cabins are deeply disinfected before the new operator comes in.
“It is our social responsibility to prevent the spread of the virus while ensure business continuity in support of the economies we are contributing to. Therefore, in these unprecedented times, NFT will continue to offer its products and services in a safe, responsible manner as long as we are able to do so. Our commitment to our clients and to our employees is uninterrupted,” said the company.