With the City of Trail on tight shutdown going on two weeks and many businesses closed to the public other than pharmacies and supermarkets, some in the community have been asking why big industry is still up and running.
That leads to the question,“Is Teck Trail Operations an ‘essential’ service? And if so, why?”
Simply put, “Yes, it is an essential service.”
And this status is for several reasons.
“The fact is mining is a critical part of the global response to COVID-19,” began Jayne Garry, Teck Trail spokesperson.
“Metal and mineral products are needed for numerous important applications,” she explained.
“Trail Operations produces a number of products that are used directly in essential applications such as production of medical equipment, including instrument panels, thermal scan thermometers, food sterilization, and municipal water treatment processes,” Garry said.
“In many cases, Trail operations is one of a few, and in some cases the only, North American supplier.”
She also pointed out that maintaining jobs and economic activity to the extent possible – while taking the necessary preventative steps – will support the long-term economic and social recovery of local communities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
As far as practices being taken for both employee and community protection, Garry says planning and implementation started weeks ago.
“Earlier this month, we moved quickly to restrict travel,” she said.
“And put in place comprehensive measures including enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, eliminating large group meetings, screening contractors and visitors, promoting preventative measures like frequent handwashing, and requiring employees returning from international travel, or showing symptoms, to self-isolate.”
The company also expanded access to sick leave benefits to support those needing to isolate.
Further transmission prevention methods in place include:
• Enhancing cleaning and disinfecting protocols – custodians are focusing on high-touch point areas including door handles, hand railings, metal surfaces, and personnel access gates. Hospital-grade disinfectant solutions are available for use in all meeting rooms, common areas, and offices. These measures are monitored and signed off through daily checklists.
• Restricting the number of people in plant control rooms and other key areas to support physical distancing.
• Meeting rooms in which critical physical distancing is a challenge have been closed.
• Promoting and educating employees on personal preventative measures – this includes physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and handwashing instructions posted in bathrooms.
• Implementing regular checks to ensure everyone is complying with protocols.
• Reducing the number of employees on site, with a number of employees working remotely from home and staggering shifts for others.
“This has resulted in a 33 per cent reduction in the number of employees on site during a typical Monday to Friday day shift,” Garry said.
“Everyone is asked to make a conscious effort to assist in cleaning their work areas, including lunchrooms, as break times are staggered.”
She says the company continues to work with union partners and follow the guidance of government and public health authorities, and will adapt responses as this situation continues to evolve.
About Teck Trail Operations
Teck Metals Ltd. Trail Operations represents one of the world’s largest fully integrated zinc and lead smelting and refining complexes. Trail’s metallurgical operations also produce a variety of precious and specialty metals, chemicals and fertilizer products.