As our nation works together to stop the spread of COVID-19, construction firms have been given a tall order: to maintain workers’ safety during a pandemic while also building essential structures that allow society to function. In more ways than one, Sundt is taking a hands-on approach to keeping our employee-owners safe on the jobsite.
“Safety looks different now. There’s no way around it,” said Omar Percy, Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) Manager for Sundt’s Transportation Group. “We have to treat our COVID-19 preventive and protective measures just like we would fall protection or trench safety.”
In addition to several company-wide COVID-19 response measures, Sundt has taken direct action to keep every project as sanitary as possible. “With construction deemed essential, we needed to do the right thing and get out ahead of this,” said Omar. The problem? Most cleaning and hygiene supplies were sold out, not just in certain regions but across the country. “So, we got on the phones, the whole HS&E team, and started calling as many different vendors as we could to get the supplies our projects needed.”
First on the list was finding enough hand sanitizer for every Sundt field employee as well as every subcontractor working alongside them. Concrete HS&E Manager Shawn Werner found a local solution—more local than he first realized. Through a Facebook post from a neighbor down the street, Shawn was introduced to an industrial cleaning supply company with operations in Tempe, Denver and El Paso that was just starting to produce hand sanitizer, a shift that many companies have made to meet current demand. “It turns out this person who lives on the other side of my neighborhood works for them. So, I met up with him and said, ‘Hey, we need this ASAP. How much can you guys provide?’ His response was basically, ‘How much do you need?'”
Soon after that conversation, Sundt received its first order of five 55-gallon drums of sanitizer at its Phoenix warehouse. Warehouse Manager Rick Garcia and his crew quickly set about finding the most efficient method to get the material into 4-ounce bottles for distribution to projects. Cutting one drum in half, the crew built a drip system to expedite the process. In less than 24 hours of receiving the shipment, Rick’s team had bottled, labeled and shipped over 1,170 bottles to our projects across multiple states. Within a week, they had sent out over 4,000 bottles, ensuring that every employee on a Sundt jobsite had their own.
Another essential jobsite safety measure is disinfecting, especially for high-contact spaces and surfaces. On construction sites, these include work areas as well as tools and equipment which are vital for projects to continue. Terry “Zeke” Smith, Project HS&E Manager, used his contacts from many years in the industry to track down over 200 gallons of high-power disinfectant concentrate. In less than a week’s time, Zeke was able to procure this concentrate and send it to our operations in Phoenix, El Paso and San Antonio for mixing and redistribution to all Sundt projects.
“This virus is going to be part of our world for the foreseeable future,” said Omar Percy. “And we’re learning a lot about how resilient we are, how we can respond individually, and how we need to adapt as a company to protect our people. So far, our projects and support teams have done a great job.”