Ever since the very first case of COVID-19 hit the United States, we, the citizens, have felt the impact. Our nation has seen and been through its fair share of ‘struggles’, but nothing like we’ve seen with this virus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has several recommendations in place to try and stop the spread of this monstrous virus, to include such measures as wearing a face mask when out in public and practicing what has become mandated in many states: social distancing.
While social distancing and other precautions are in place for the right reasons, they can unfortunately have a challenging impact on business operations.
Especially difficult is when your employees cannot do their job behind a computer. Memphis District Ensley Engineer Yard Tradesmen encompass a large body of specialty workers that include machinists, welders, electricians, carpenters, and toolmakers, just to name a few. These men and women cannot do their job from home; telework just isn’t an option. So what do they do?
“COVID-19 does make our job a little harder to accomplish, but safety in the workplace is a top priority, so we make it work,” Machinist Brandon Almeida said. “Because we’ve been implementing the six foot rule, we’ve actually had to cancel a few jobs because of how close the work required us to get to one another.”
For example, the Metals Shop had to discontinue the siding job on the Metals building because of the two-man per basket requirement; there’s no way to keep six feet in distance between people while in a basket hanging on the side of a building.
Yes, they postponed some projects, but Ensley Engineer Yard is still plenty busy with many different jobs, including projects like piping for the Vicksburg District’s Dredge Jadwin, repairing a mooring barge recently removed from the Ensley stringout, and project to repair a malfunctioning gate at Ditch 81.
Not only is this team still working the projects, leadership is still conducting the weekly meetings, safely, to ensure these big jobs are planned well and correctly carried out.
“The Plant Section is continuing to support MVM's Mission Essential Projects all while practicing social distancing,” Physical Support Branch Chief Lawrence Thomas (LT) said. “This meeting is coordinated by Plant Section Chief Kevin Woods with the purpose of discussing ongoing projects within the Carpentry Shop, Metals Shop, and Yards and Docks.”
As LT mentioned, they are practicing social distancing, making sure not to sit too close to one another during the meetings.
“If personnel are teleworking or want more social distance, they dial in,” Woods said. “As part of the agenda, we review the high priority projects that we are responsible for. This is an opportunity to discuss where we are on completing each project and what help is needed from the other units or management in order to sustain progress.”
COVID-19 has impacted people all over the world, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is going to stop operating; it just means we’re going to find solutions to the problems this virus tends to create.