Q. I hear the Imperial Irrigation District has not been doing its part to protect its employees from COVID-19. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are not being distributed to employees who are required to share cell phones, laptops, vehicles and other tools. How does the IID expect its employees to continue working while doing nothing to help protect them from this disease?
— Mr. Clean, El Centro
A. The question was put to IID Public Information Officer Robert Schettler, who wasted little time refuting it.
First and foremost, he said, IID takes the care and protection of its employees very seriously at all times, especially as the district works to continue to provide essential water and energy services to its customers during the coronavirus state of emergency.
Schettler said IID has provided additional hand sanitizing stations throughout its employee facilities and customer payment centers.
But, like everywhere else, supplies of common disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers are on back order and vendors are prioritizing deliveries to healthcare facilities, he added.
The IID has been able to acquire a hospital-grade disinfectant, proven effective against the coronavirus, Schettler said. This disinfectant has been distributed to employees and is being used to sanitize countertops, workstations, door handles, breakroom tables, steering wheels, and telephones, to name a few.
“The district has also purchased a disinfecting machine that will be used in large, common areas frequented by multiple people, and our janitorial cleaning crews have been taking extra preventative measures, including daily sanitization of common area main entrances, restrooms, light switches, water coolers, and even microwave ovens in breakrooms,” Schettler said.
Within the district there is no required sharing of cell phones and, by and large, there is limited sharing of laptops, vehicles and tools, he said.
“Employees have been instructed to sanitize any equipment that is shared and have been provided the means to do so,” he added.
When possible, IID has encouraged employees to work from home to curb the potential spread of the coronavirus. This week, 320 IID employees had logged in remotely using IID laptops and personal computers, Schettler reported.
Throughout this state of emergency, IID has worked diligently to communicate with its employees, distributing numerous memos and updates as events progress, he said.
As part of this effort, IID launched an information page on its employee intranet site, complete with coronavirus protection information, frequently asked questions and a forum for employees to submit questions.
Field personnel are also working with their supervisors to identify specific health concerns when conducting safety meetings and when not resolved, engage upper level management to promptly address their concerns, Schettler said.