While many St. Charles Parish residents are waiting for the green light to return to work – and the world to return to normal – a large number of the community’s workforce are needed, as shutdown of the area’s industrial plants is not an option.
Thus heightened vigilance and safety precautions carry enormous importance, as even one infected employee could create a significant spread if the issue were not quickly detected.
Shell Norco spokeswoman Rochelle Touchard said it commands the bulk of the company’s attention.
“Shell’s priority is the safety and health of our people and our environment, as well as the continued safe operation of all our businesses,” said Shell Norco spokeswoman Rochelle Touchard. “We continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the well-being of our staff and contractors and adhere to the guidance provided by the authorities.”
Shell has taken several measures to protect its employees during the pandemic. A major part of that has been restricting site access to include only contractors and visitors deemed critical to business, as well as limiting on-site work to business-critical personnel only.
Temperature screening procedures for employees and contractors have been implemented. Social distancing, when at all possible, is also implemented, with CDC recommendations serving as guidelines for scenarios where distancing is not feasible. To that end as well, Touchard said many employees are telecommuting to limit on-site personnel numbers. In-person meetings have given way to virtual conferences, and lunchtimes have been staggered to provide necessary space for workers, and the cafeteria is open for pick-up only.
More frequent and thorough cleaning and sanitation rounds are ongoing, and additional hand-washing and hand-sanitizer stations have been distributed throughout the site.
“We have business continuity plans in place to ensure the safety and sustainability of our business operations and our ability to meet the needs of our customers and partners,” Touchard said. “For example, some teams have introduced split team arrangements to ensure continuity of operations. Where possible, staff are expected to work from home to minimize the chance of carrying the virus on site.”
Valero St. Charles spokeswoman Taryn Rogers echoed similar measures to assure safety for its employees.
“We’re allowing employees to work from home, increased our cleaning on-site, restricted visitors, granted limited access to control rooms, made travel restrictions, among other practices in an effort to minimize exposure to the virus,” Rogers said. “We have sent regular communications reminding them to practice social distancing at work and at home, wash their hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoid touching their face, cover their cough/sneeze and to frequently clean and disinfect.”
Rogers said communication with site personnel is constant, as minimizing risk at this time is so vital. She noted the procedures are followed as per CDC recommendations.
Valero has committed $300,000 in support of the fight against coronavirus locally, with St. Charles Parish beneficiaries including Second Harvest Food Bank, St. Charles Parish Public Schools, the Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry, Catholic Charities and the Council on Aging.