Alternative water provision during the COVID-19 pandemic
Water Direct update 23 April 2020
We’d like to offer our reassurance that Water Direct remains operational. We’re here and available as normal to help with alternative water supplies. We have taken appropriate precautions in line with government advice to ensure we’re keeping everyone safe whilst operating effectively. Provision of our products and services is not impacted at this time and we would like to assure our customers of our preparedness for any eventuality.
We have taken measures to enable ‘work from home’ for all staff, unless they are undertaking physical operations for our customers when they will be travelling and working within the Government guidelines for social distancing. Having now worked in this manner for more than 5 weeks, 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, 5 weeks on from when this system was put in place, we’ve found no change to our service delivery or meeting 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. Management are working separately to each other to ensure a team member becoming compromised doesn’t risk other team members also.
Visitors and meetings 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.
Further to clarification by the UK Government, Water Direct can confirm that its employees are determined as ‘Key Workers’ 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. 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. Whilst MOT’s may have been suspended for HGV’s, we are continuing with regular maintenance and safety checks 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, which we will be replenishing on a weekly basis. These packs will 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 if it becomes scarce. Hotels have been improving their offerings to Key Workers over the past 3 weeks, and during several active incidents we’ve worked as normal with relief drivers able to remain in the area overnight local to the incident.
Should there become a reduction in the availability of fuel, we have in the past been provided with priority user passes for collecting fuel by the utility we are working for at the time. We would look to our utility partners to assist us in this should the situation arise. We also hold our own contingency stock of fuel for HGV’s, should fuel scarcity be wider spread, however at present we have not seen any evidence of fuel shortages.
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 through the past 5 weeks, and service delivery continues as per normal operations.
We have provided each of these 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 BCMS we work with a number of producers to maintain supply levels and to ensure that escalation remains possible. So far, we have not been made aware of any deviations to normal supply chain practice with these core suppliers. We will be maintaining a dialogue with them on a regular basis 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.
When working on 24hr a day operations, we utilise local hotels to enable timely and sustainable driver shift changes. Restrictions in the ability to use Hotels may inhibit our usual mode of operations, however we can take further measures such as increasing the number of vehicles on each job so that off-shift drivers can stay in their cabs overnight, near to where welfare facilities and sustenance can be found.
We have observed, with a reduction in roadside services and restaurants that there can sometimes be 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.
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 email@example.com.