When the pandemic hit hard in March of 2020, NEMO faced the new and unfamiliar situation that many businesses found themselves in. How do you mitigate the impact of a pandemic on our business? For NEMO, we looked at the challenge of quickly reinventing our safety protocols not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to lead our industry with a vision of safety that will continue beyond the immediate.
The challenges we immediately faced were keeping our employees safe in close environments, and logistically navigating the rules imposed by states, as our road crew teams can be located in several New England states at one time. How do we keep over 100 welders safe so they can do their jobs and prevent an outbreak from happening?
Safety Training in a Pandemic
Like everyone else, we were unsure in April how this pandemic would unfold by the end of the year. NEMO traditionally holds a week-long safety gathering each December in which we commandeer a hotel in Concord, NH, and provide all our employees with classes, physical checkups, presentations, and safety gear. Would this be possible in 2020? We weren’t sure in April, but as we created our own projections of worst-case scenarios, we made the early decision to quickly ramp up a project we had already begun before the pandemic.
This project was to design an online Safety School for NEMO employees in which employees could stay up to date on safety topics and tests if they were unable to attend our Annual Safety Week gathering or if they were hired early in the year. By mid-summer with the pandemic steadily increasing, it was clear that gathering people together in a classroom or hotel was not a viable option. In October of 2020, NEMO launched a complete online Safety Training Program that included over 25 courses. We have automated the process of safety training by creating an online NEMO Safety Training school that our welders and manager-level employees can access 24/7. Classes are monitored and managed by our Director of Safety, Jeffrey Gibbs. Training can now take place via mobile phone or computer from any location at any time. Additionally, we can accurately measure the test data and provide “Certificates of Course Completion” to those who pass the requirements.
On the Job During a Pandemic
How do you keep a team that works in the close confines of a boiler tank healthy and safe? Step one: Institute a mask mandate for all employees in the field or in the office. Step two: Work with our physicians to accommodate frequent testing of all employees. Step three: Adhere to the different state laws that are in a constant state of evolution. Step four: Create as many physical barriers as possible to prevent COVID from being introduced into our corporate workspace. For example, NEMO built an addition to their current building to act as a lobby in which deliveries could be dropped off, separated by glass, and locked doors to the rest of the building.
A Vision for the Future
At NEMO, we’ll continue our mission to look to the future of our industry and lead the way with creative solutions and an inventive spirit. Remember this quote by Ray Davis, Businessman & Owner of the Texas Rangers, “A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.”
Like everyone, we look forward to a time when the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, until then there’s no ‘bowing’ only challenges and opportunities.