Alternative water provision during the COVID-19 pandemic
Water Direct update 16 July 2020
We’d like to offer our reassurance that Water Direct continues to remain operational. We’re here and available as normal to help with alternative water supplies. We have taken all appropriate precautions in line with government advice to ensure we’re keeping everyone safe whilst operating effectively. To date there has been no impact on the provision of our products and services and we would like to assure our customers of our continued preparedness for any eventuality.
We have taken measures to enable ‘work from home’ for staff where appropriate. When undertaking physical operations for our customers our team are travelling and working within the Government guidelines for social distancing. Having now worked in this manner for the duration of the pandemic, we’re reassured of the systems we have in place being adequate to enable service delivery to our normal standards.
Our key staff are Field Technicians / Lorry Drivers. We have determined that whilst operating tankers or palletised goods delivery vehicles, they are essentially ‘lone working’ in an environment which they are in control of. When not involved in active tasks, as opposed to congregating at their respective deployment depots, they will remain at home on standby throughout their shift to further reduce any risk from unnecessary interpersonal contact. Again, since this system was put in place, we’ve found no change to our service delivery or meeting service level agreement (SLA) targets.
Our Duty Management team work on opposing shifts which will prevent direct contact between them, further reducing the risk they may become affected. Secondary to this, experienced managers are prepared to take over the Duty Management role should the primary Duty Managers become unable to work. The management team and other staff are working separately to each other (where operational efficiency allows) to ensure a team member becoming compromised doesn’t risk other team members also – those whose presence is required on our sites are social distanced from their colleagues through a modified seating plan.
All but the most essential visitors and meetings (e.g. for safety critical inspections / training) remain cancelled for the foreseeable future to reduce risk from face to face contact. Remote meetings are still being held on a regular basis both with internal and external stakeholders, ensuring we can maintain great working relationships with our customers.
Water Direct staff are determined as ‘Key Workers’ as designated by the UK Government and eligible for the children of employees to remain in schools where possible. This ensures most specifically that our staff providing front line service delivery, such as Tankering and Bottled Water are able to continue working provided that they remain physically capable of doing so.
All staff are reminded on a daily basis of the measures we are taking as a company, and that the services we provide are critical to national infrastructure; thus we must follow all reasonable guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of each other, as well as our customers and their dependants.
Prior to restrictions being increased across the country, we took measures to secure additional small vans and personnel transport vehicles to enable our relief drivers and Asset Technicians to travel to work sites without having to share cabs whenever this is practicable. This will further reduce unnecessary interpersonal contact in what are relatively confined spaces.
Our HGV fleet is less than 3 years old, with current service and maintenance contracts remaining unaffected at present. MOT extensions apply to the majority of our fleet with arrangements being made to ensure they remain compliant within the new deadlines. All other planned maintenance and safety checks are continuing as normal to ensure our equipment is ready to deploy around the clock as usual.
All Field Technicians, Asset Technicians and HGV Drivers have been provided with their own personal hygiene packs, replenished on a weekly basis. These packs aid them in maintaining a clean and disinfected working environment within their vehicle cabs, further minimising risk due to surface contamination.
All vehicles are equipped with Sleeper Cabs, reducing our reliance on hotel availability. Hotel offerings have improved and during several active incidents we’ve worked as normal with relief drivers able to remain in the area overnight local to the incident.
Sub-Contractors providing essential services on behalf of Water Direct
As part of our operating model, we work with a number of sub-contract hauliers and service providers to ensure an expandable service provision. We’ve been maintaining regular contact with these sub-contractors throughout the period, and service delivery continues as per normal operations.
We have provided each of our critical suppliers with confirmation that when undertaking work on behalf of Water Direct that they fall under our ‘key worker’ category. Many of these sub-contractor companies are also continuing to form part of critical national supply chain services and are remaining operational regardless.
We are in regular communication with our bottled water producers and other suppliers to understand changes in the levels of stock demand. As part of our business continuity management system (BCMS) we work with a number of producers to maintain supply levels and to ensure that escalation remains possible. To date, we have not been made aware of any deviations to normal supply chain practice with these core suppliers. We maintain regular dialogue with them so that we can keep ahead of any supply and demand trends.
We acknowledge the measures the UK Government continues to hold in place to safeguard the UK population and health services.
Water Direct is still delivering services as normal, although with extra measures being taken to reduce risk to our workforce. All staff, especially those in front line roles have been made aware that Water Direct is an essential services provider, and we will continue to provide our services in a resilient 24/7 manner.
Although improved, we still occasionally observe a shortage of toilet and hand washing facilities close to operational areas. Where this is the case, we work with our partners and clients to provide additional temporary welfare facilities at operational locations to supplement the personally held items on each vehicle.
Service industries which support goods vehicle operators in undertaking regular safety and maintenance inspections are still operational to support the UK supply chain in all its forms. Since supply to supermarkets, petrol stations and service centres is still required as a priority.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as and when anything changes.
If you have any questions or require any further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can be contacted on 0345 345 1725 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.