What safety measures have been put in place at the Saint-Nazaire site since lockdown?

What safety measures have been put in place at the Saint-Nazaire site since lockdown?

Soazig Perrin, Health, Safety and Environment Officer at the Saint-Nazaire industrial site, looks back at the safety measures put in place between the start of lockdown and the gradual return to work taking place this week.

WHAT IMPACT HAS COVID-19 HAD ON THE WAY SAINT-NAZAIRE IS ORGANISED?

Since lockdown, the army has taken delivery from us of 200 VT4 VEHICLES. Nonetheless, we kept to a minimum the numbers of people on the site putting the finishing touches to the vehicles and dispatching them. All other work was suspended. As for me, I was on site at the start, but since then I've been working remotely to minimise risk.

WHAT SAFETY MEASURES WERE TAKEN ON SITE DURING LOCKDOWN?

We introduced infection control measures and put up posters all around the site. Compliance was really good, especially since numbers on site were low. We had already publicised infection control measures in the weeks running up to lockdown: avoid physical contact when greeting one another, e.g. no shaking hands. On lockdown, these measures became the norm.

 

These infection control measures need to become embedded.

WHAT WAS YOUR STATE OF MIND?

At the start, I felt a bit frustrated not being with my teams on a daily basis, but otherwise I felt quite calm, as people were following the instructions we'd given them. The most complicated thing was to make the daily changes needed to respond to government announcements and to our constantly evolving knowledge about the virus. We had to evolve to strike the best possible balance between what the government was telling us and application on the ground. This meant daily meetings in-house on the Saint-Nazaire site, and also of the ARQUUS HSE network. 

Soazig Perrin

HOW DO WE PERCEIVE THE VIRUS?

COVID-19 is very subtle - our 5 senses don't give us any clues. We can't see it, we can't smell it, we can't hear it, nothing alerts us to its presence. That's what makes it so nasty, we can't see the danger coming. We have to apply all the infection control measures and protective measures all the time. There's no physiological response to this risk, which makes it all the more difficult to combat.

WITH THE GRADUAL RETURN TO WORK, WILL THE SAFETY MEASURES BE UPGRADED FROM MONDAY?

I came back on site on 1 April to start working towards the gradual return of our employees, which was planned from Monday 6 April. Any doors which could be have been taken off their hinges or wedged open so as to limit the number of people using the handles. We have put up signage and introduced procedures for using revolving doors.

We have also marked out the statutory 1-metre spacing on the floor. Every other chair has been removed in meeting rooms. Red crosses on the floor show no-go areas required to respect the 1 metre spacing. We've sealed off coffee machines and water coolers and no pastries will be provided for the foreseeable future. Instead, we are distributing bottled water to all our staff. These water points are as close as possible to workstations.

WILL YOU MAINTAIN ANY OF THESE MEASURES WHEN THE PANDEMIC IS OVER?

Definitely, I really hope so. We have already developed the habit of washing our hands regularly with soap and water.

We have now installed automatic disinfectant distributors, so that workstation tools can all be cleaned to protect employee health. We're using disinfectant sprays used in hospitals for surgical instruments. This wasn't ever done in industrial environments, it's something we've just introduced, but it is reassuring to operators and they are complying with instructions.

HOW DID THE RETURN TO WORK GO ON MONDAY 6 APRIL?

At 7:30 am, as each new person arrived for work on the site, we met with them to explain the procedures and measures we had put in place and that they needed to implement.

There are new constraints, but our employees have accepted those.

Feedback suggests that our employees are happy to be coming back to work because lockdown is oppressive. They are reassured by the measures we've implemented here at ARQUUS. Though the first people to come back at the start of the week were a bit anxious, now they feel reassured and happy to be back at work. They comply with the measures we've put in place. Tools are disinfected before and after use. There are new constraints, but our employees have accepted those. The health of our staff and their families is our priority.

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