The frontline cleaning‑up COVID‑19

  • Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020, 11:24 am
Facilities Technicians continue to disinfect commonly used areas
Y-12 Building Services and Lawler-Wood Maintenance and Facilities Technicians continue to disinfect commonly used areas and ensure their safety using face masks and gloves.

When the presence of COVID-19 approached our corner of the world, causing many to brace for impact, Pantex Utilities and Maintenance, Y-12 Building Services, and Lawler Wood Maintenance and Facilities technicians at both sites were called to action. As the first line of defense against germs on site, these professionals are responsible for contributing to the overall health of employees especially during viral seasons. Only this time, they were courageously working against a different and unknown pathogen.

Armed with a dedicated task force, N95 respirators, gloves, goggles, and other necessary personal protective equipment, teams have worked quickly and diligently over the course of the outbreak to sanitize surfaces and spaces throughout Pantex and Y-12 facilities.

“We have a very professional team of building services employees who take safety very seriously,” said Y-12 Building Services Supervisor Nate Criswell. “In addition to our routine best practices, we discussed the virus more in depth and shared as much information as we could get our hands on in regards to emerging best practices as it relates to cleaning, PPE, and hygiene.”

Increased cleaning duties to twice a shift, along with the everyday janitorial duties, made for long days and even some extra hours on the weekends to maintain 24/7 operations.

“Our team performed at a high level,” Johnny Heredia, Pantex Infrastructure specialist, said. “The whole department was focused on the same goal: not getting anyone sick. We sometimes changed what we were doing in order to achieve the goals in an even more effective and efficient manner. Our team adapted and has stepped up our activities to maintain productivity.”

Already ahead of the curve in terms of safety processes and equipment, there weren’t many standard precautions for the building services team to take that weren’t already in place. Through team briefings, crews were refreshed on the differences and processes for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, choosing the right chemicals for the job, and using correct PPE at all times. With plans drawn and scheduled, personnel were ready to eliminate the wake of the virus.

“Early on, our team was asked to respond to situations where employees were being sent home with symptoms or had been confirmed to have the virus,” Criswell said. “Through preparation, knowledge, and having the proper PPE, our teams deployed out to these responses more confident in the fact that they were protected and they knew the best ways to treat these areas to prevent further spread.”

As attention was directed to slowing the spread, crews began expanding to common zones, offices, breakrooms, waiting areas, etc. At the John C. Drummond Center, Lawler Wood Pantex also took advantage of reduced personnel onsite to deep clean areas such as air filters, windowsills, elevator shafts, and floors.

Throughout Jack Case Center and New Hope Center, Lawler Wood Y-12’s first, second, and third shift crews performed efforts beyond routine deep cleaning.

“Lawler Wood Y-12 employees have worked tirelessly 24/7, often overtime, to respond to requests for additional deep cleaning and disinfecting areas,” said Lawler Wood Y-12 Facility Manager Vicky Bowling. “We greatly appreciate these efforts.”

For Y-12 Building Services, members were divided into teams of two using Clorox 360 equipment. One person to help set up the area and direct the disinfectant cord, and one person to spray. This resulted in an efficient process to cover more ground. Successful disinfection sweeps were completed when all requested areas were sprayed, labeled, dated, and closed.

“I have continuously reminded my folks that what they do day in and day out matters more than they know,” Criswell said. “We are working tirelessly to keep our work family and our nation’s valuable nuclear workers safe and healthy.”

Fearless and focused, both teams remained dedicated to the safety of the mission by taking pride in the details of their work. All the while, knowingly protecting the site’s most precious assets — its people.

“Thank you to who are putting in long days to make sure we have access to the necessities during an immensely challenging time,” Heredia said. “We know you are doing crucial work, and we appreciate you. We couldn’t get through this without you.”

Mandy Miller of Lawler Wood Pantex cleans and disinfects the breakrooms in the JCDC.

Mandy Miller of Lawler Wood Pantex cleans and disinfects the breakrooms in the JCDC.