3/25/2020 COVID-19 UPDATE
Update on NBBB/ESR Response to COVID-19
Earlier this week, the Governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order, with some exceptions for essential activities and businesses. The order is effective for a minimum of two weeks. As we have previously communicated, NBBB and ESR have been deemed Critical Infrastructure Employers and therefore are authorized to continue operations during the Governor’s Stay Home order.
In addition to the “Stay-Home” order, previous governmental declarations and directives include:
- March 22, The President approved Washington state's major disaster declaration, which will give the state more federal assistance to fight the COVID-19 outbreak
- March 20: Everett Mayor issued a mayoral directive, directing all city of Everett residents and business owners to stay home, except for certain essential activities and work to provide essential business, . . . or public infrastructure. (ESR is also exempt from this directive as providing essential business).
- March 16: Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation that mandated the immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities, and expanded a statewide ban on events/gatherings of 50 or larger.
New Company Reponses
Besides the steps already implemented and communicated, we have taken these additional measures this week:
- Implemented new schedules for work week for those in our front-line trades in Freeland by creating two groups working 11-hour shifts. One group is just now completing its Monday through Wednesday schedule; while the other group will be working Thursday through Saturday from 7:30am to 7:00pm, with lunch and breaks appropriately observed. This new schedule will further increase the recommended social distancing opportunities here at work and reduce the health risks. Similar actions aimed at limiting employee density have been implemented in Everett Ship Repair.
- Secured State Registration as a Critical Infrastructure Employer authorized to continue operations during the Governor’s Stay Home order. See other document on ESS for more details on this option.
As such, we will be able to continue using the new schedules we have just established for the yard.
Your Concerns and Ideas are Welcome
We continue to be thankful for your input and inviting of your suggestions and ideas on how we can best manage through this challenging environment. We are especially inviting of concerns of those who authorities advise are particularly at risk (older employees (60+, those with suppressed immune systems, or needed to take care of family members with such afflictions that are exacerbated in current environment.) Please discuss your concerns with your supervisor or anyone in Human Resources so that we can explore and hopefully arrive at acceptable accommodations that are consistent with guidance from recognized and respected authorities. In addition, family members should feel free to contact the HR team directly as well.
Developing New Capacities to Manage through Current Crisis
In the interest of “never letting a crisis go to waste” we have observed the following areas as longer-term benefits we can expect from our rising to these current challenges:
- Further invested in and are significantly enhancing utilization of technology for telecommuting and teleconferencing.
- Developing deeper and better relationships with suppliers, vendors and customers as we work through the current challenges; and
- Better managing facility security practices in all our yards and sites.
Know that we are continuing to monitor the situation, but for now we believe that our best approach is to rely on the professional judgment of the department of homeland security, as well as guidance from the CDC. We are aware that some disagree with our decision to continue operations as a critical infrastructure employer, and we respect that opinion and understand the concerns that lead to that opinion. Things are changing rapidly, but as of this moment federal government recommendations supported by the CDC include the following: "If you work in a critical infrastructure industry ... (including ours), you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.” Though we have always known and taken pride in the importance of what you do, we can take satisfaction in seeing our government’s and the public’s recognition at this time that what we do is essential and critical to the country.
Guiding Our Decisions
Of course, this does not mean that all critical infrastructure manufacturing must continue uninterrupted. In considering our options and making decisions as we get through the coming days and weeks, the factors guiding our decisions will include and prioritize the following:
- Safety and Health of our workforce and Environment
- Respect for community during time of health crisis
- Guidance from state and federal agencies on health, safety, and commerce, and
- Commitments to our customers and preserving relationships to allow for strong and rapid recovery when the environment rebounds.
We are going through this together, day by day, doing our best to meet our customer obligations and to be responsible in a moment in time when there are no easy answers. Like other employers, we will certainly need to take further belt tightening measures. Know that we will do so with robust communication of the full panoply of state and federal resource programs that may provide supporting resources.
Be safe, be healthy, and be well.
3/21/2020 COVID-19 UPDATE - Like all of you, we at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders and Everett Ship Repair are adjusting operations in real time to stay ahead of the current health pandemic situation. We continue to take responsible and proactive measures to enable continuing operations and customer commitments in these challenging times, while protecting the safety of our employees, our work environment, and the public. Please see the following internally focused message we issued earlier this week. Thank you for your support and understanding, and let’s all be safe and be well.
At NBBB and ESR, the health, safety and wellbeing of our workers and their families is a priority and is required of all of us by OSHA. As the concerns around the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. escalate, I am reaching out to the entire NBBB and ESR community to ask for your commitment to ensuring the utmost vigilance in preventing further exposure of the coronavirus in our shipyard facilities and your homes. Please do your part in helping communicate and support the following new policies so they are completely understood and the rules followed going forward.
In order to continue to effectively manage through the current COVID-19 outbreak, the following measures will be immediately implemented:
Prohibition on Working with flu-like symptoms (Zero-tolerance). We are putting in place a zero-tolerance policy regarding people coming to work with symptoms such as coughing, fever, sore throat or other flu like symptoms. I am asking supervisors to take action and send anyone home immediately that exhibits these symptoms. This also applies to our subcontractors and partners. If you experience any combination of the following symptoms, stay home and call in: fever, continued coughing, aches and pains, shortness of breath. This is Mandatory – NOT OPTIONAL. Do not risk health of the yard. If a worker is exhibiting or complaining about such symptoms, he or she will be asked to leave the shipyard immediately. Supervisors have been instructed to inform the worker that they may not return to the yard until they are no longer ill or have secured a release from their healthcare professional certifying that they can return to work without risk to others. Know that our ability to mitigate or remediate an exposure to COVID-19 becomes more difficult the longer an infected worker remains on the jobsite. Any failure to be diligent about this and act promptly could result in negative impacts on the wellbeing of other workers, as well as our ability to continue the work. While we may have tolerated working sick to some degree in the past, we will not tolerate it now. Effective immediately, we must all observe a zero-tolerance policy with respect to exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19, even if we don't know the exact cause of the illness.
Enhanced Scrutiny and Escalation of Personal Hygiene Practices to Workplace Rules. Previously provided counsel on personal hygiene practices is now more than just guidance, but rather are to be considered workplace safety rules. These include:
- WASH YOUR HANDS – frequently and for 20 seconds,
- If you cough or sneeze, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue (throw tissue away immediately after use),
- Do not touch your face and eyes with your hands.
- Do not share welding hoods or borrow gloves of another co-worker.
Anyone demonstrating lack of respect for seriousness of our response effort or seen not observing rules (e.g., handwashing) will be treated as if they are violating safety rules.
Social Distancing: Consistent with guidance that recommends keeping a safe distance of 3-6 feet from people, where possible, beginning today, we are creating additional lunch break to reduce the number of people in the lunch-break room.
- Fitters (both NBBB and Contractor staff) in Freeland will take lunch at 11:45;
- All other trades will continue to observe lunch at 12:30 pm.
- We will limit the attendance in the break room to no more than 40 at one time.
Everett Ship Repair is assessing their environment and implementing appropriate guidance for its location and facility.
We encourage people to consider taking their lunch breaks in your vehicles (if possible) or shops (Panel Line, Dome, Craft Shops; as we are temporarily suspending the rules banning food or drink in shops during this public health emergency.
Other policy changes effective immediately include:
- The company is cancelling or postponing any tours / events / gatherings of guests, visitors or other outsiders on company premises.
- New restrictions / limitations on any visitors to the office, including visits by suppliers, vendors and customers.
- New limits on business travel and on our participation in industry sales and business development expenses.
- Immediate minimizing of in-person meetings and promoting virtual meetings and communications for those whose work permits for that.
- Continued escalation of our preventive health, hygiene, and sanitization practices across all shipyard production areas and offices, and increasing use and stocks of sanitation supplies.
We need your help and are asking you to have your teams distribute this message and important policy changes to all subcontractors, suppliers and partners. Each of us must work together in fighting the further spread of this virus and to do our part to keep our shipyard running safely and smoothly.
Thank you, we appreciate your cooperation.