COVID on site

We design and manufacture packaging and materials handling equipment. We have an engineering team and a small assemble shop on site. We’re fortunate to be serving a part of industry benefiting from the pandemic and so business is very good for us. Our teams are busy across the board. So this incident came as a big blow and reality check for us.

On Sunday morning we have learned that one of our team members tested positive for COVID and felt quite sick already. We were told that he would have been contagious for up to 48hrs before he felt symptoms.

My team and I acted very quickly to contact all our visitors and team members on site during the contagious days. Fortunately we kept an old school logbook for people to sign in (and record a temperature) every day. We also have a QR code but found we don’t have access to the QR code data so couldn’t act on it.

By Sunday evening, everyone was contacted and had gone for a test. By Monday afternoon, all the tests came back negative, which was a great blessing!

Since we had the full workshop team on site during those contagious days, we lost our manufacturing facility for 14 days. This was a tough one but fortunately our customers were understanding.  

We were able to open the office after a deep clean but that only allowed us to have a storeman and a few engineers on site, those who weren’t in quarantine.

So business was pretty slow and frustrating for 14 days. Fortunately, everyone remained COVID negative and we could resume activities in the workshop, albeit at reduced capacity.

Lessons learned :

  • This can happen to anyone. And it will happen more and more.
  • Vaccination isn’t a safeguard. The individual who brought COVID to us was vaccinated.
  • We let our guard down and became complacent. We wore masks and stuck to our COVIDSafe plan which meant that no-one else was infected but we had too many people on site and that caused us a problem.
  • We now have our workforce divided into two shifts, Mon-We and Thu to Sat with no overlapping attendance. Not 100% safe but we will do what we can to make sure we have at least half a team available to continue if this happens again
  • The contact tracing team only kicked in 5 days after the case was reported. By then everyone was already tested and asked to quarantine. You can’t rely on the DHHS to be quick enough.
  • Keep a logbook in addition to the QR code (only because you have to, not sure how much use it is)