LIMA — Using technology to continue working beyond the office cubicle has been one benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic in keeping local businesses operating safely.
For Nutrien Lima it was something they embraced.
“So I think for us it was a combination of having as much of our workforce that could work remotely do so and then for those that had to be on-site to work we embraced technology to help us ensure the safety of everybody on our side,” said Russ Decker, special projects manager for Nutrien.
Besides scanning each employee’s temperature, the use of technology went even further.
“We embraced a thing called a Triax proximity tracing system. It’s a tag that everyone on our site wears and it lets us know who’s been closer than six feet and for what duration so when we do have someone that says they’re ill today or they show a fever and are refused entry to the plant we can immediately go back and take a look over the last three or four days and see if they’ve had any close contacts with anybody over an extended period of time that we might need to talk to as well to see if they are feeling OK,” Decker said.
Decker says they’ve seen the benefits of using the system.
“It’s helped us quickly identify who might be at risk and make sure that we’re isolating those folks and because of that our numbers of positive cases on the site has been controlled fairly well and we have had no instances so far of our company spreading the virus on the site,” Decker said.
At Lima Refinery — now owned by Cenovus Energy after a merger with Husky Energy — they’re taking steps, like every other business, to stop the spread of the virus.
“In recent years, Lima Refinery has been on a journey to become what is called a high-reliability organization. An HRO excels in accomplishing goals in an environment where normal deviations could be expected because of the complexity of the work,” said Claudio Ingaramo, vice president, U.S. refining and manager of Lima Refinery. “We are guided by five principles: learning from our performance, communicating standards and complying with procedures, empowering a questioning attitude, team backup, and integrity.”
Ingaramo recognizes that Lima Refinery is an essential and critical infrastructure employer.
“We safely maintained operations through the early days of the pandemic and continue today. It’s critical that we maintain a safe and healthy workplace. We followed our high-reliability principles and used what we’ve learned from our journey to guide our pandemic response,” Ingaramo said.
The facility has an embedded health clinic on-site that help them become more “proactive, rather than reactive.”
“We were starting to plan our response more than a year ago when this wasn’t on many people’s radars. Our vendors, contractors and business-essential visitors tell us our standards and practices are first in class. Our practices have been a model for other organizations. Face coverings are a great example. We are following public health guidance, communicating standards, setting expectations and holding ourselves accountable,” Ingaramo said.
He’s pleased their employees have adapted to the new normal.
“Our employees have folded into their procedures things such as distancing and mask-wearing. We make a commitment every day to protect one another, our community, assets and the environment — and right now, that includes ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. Our employees are the ones who are making this work. I’m grateful for their focus on safe and reliable refinery operations,” Ingaramo said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.