Through the eyes of a UPS engineer:
It’s the small things that I realise I used to take for granted. Like getting ready for work – something I never really gave a second thought to, the process was just natural. Covid-19 has changed this, and so many other things.
The simple act of getting ready for work is a thing of the past. There is so much more to account for now. Mask. Gloves. Hand sanitizer – check. I leave my work boots outside and sterile clean them every day hoping that they will be dry in time for my next job.
Driving to customer sites is also a new experience. The roads are quieter, which means significantly less traffic and getting from A to B without getting stuck in traffic is a nice experience. However, the benefit in time saved from the lack of commuters is often replaced by the additional safety measures that have to be adhered to when stopping for food/drink/fuel. Everything takes a little longer. There are often queues and of course, lots of little things to remember; gloves on, handle as little as possible, maintain 2metres distance, pay contactless. Then once back to the van, and before touching anything, I throw these gloves away and sanitise my hands.
Working on site is different now too. At the moment we are mainly attending sites in the health sector like hospitals and food subdivisions such as distribution centres. These sites are essential to the UK economy and the health and wellbeing of our communities; ensuring the country can function during this pandemic. So it is very important we keep their systems in working order. Whether this is servicing or repairs. Also commissioning new units so they can still have new projects up and running. This gives me a sense of satisfaction, knowing I am personally making a difference and contributing to keeping the country going.
Whilst on site, I will always wear gloves, changing them regularly and a face mask depending on the situation which I assess beforehand. For example if I am in a plant room on my own, there isn’t always a need to wear a mask. If I am inside a hospital where I can come into contact with people, then I do. Hospitals are high risk areas, so I have to be extra vigilant with safety measures.
I also have to remember to keep a safe distance from customers and the people I’m working with. It seems very antisocial but our team now travels on their own to site wherever reasonable to do so. Although I still work with people, I still need to communicate and discuss the job etc, which can be done safely with these measures. The natural instinct and almost unconscious greeting of shaking hands upon meeting them, is now a discussion point of how you would like to shake their hand but do not want to spread the virus. When finishing jobs, we used to get the customer to sign our tablet; at the moment we don’t do this due to cross contamination.
The involuntary action to touch my face/mouth/eyes and ears is now a solemn risk to my health and that of my family. I’ve learnt that the average person touches their face 23 times an hour, something I must try to avoid – wearing a mask helps with this.
The biggest impact has been on my work/home routine. Gone are the days of kicking off my boots and flopping on the sofa. I have a routine to complete first. My partner is pregnant so it is even more important I don’t bring this virus into our home. I leave a bottle of Dettol outside, to spray my van, my boots and my clothes with. I then take my boots off leaving them outside and remove my clothes ready to place in the washing machine and get a shower straight away. In the early hours this can be a bind but it is needed, I am doing everything I can to carry on working in these essential sectors and without spreading the virus.
Myself and others who are working in different places are all at high risk of catching this, every job must be assessed beforehand and a decision made. If it isn’t safe then we don’t do it until it is.
For myself, the main thing that keeps me going during this, is knowing I am helping essential sectors to run smoothly. Which will be something good to tell my daughter when she is old enough to know what we went through. The NHS and all other services that are still running, are doing a great job keeping our country going and to continue this, all their equipment needs to be running smoothly. This is done by good servicing and if there is a fault, a first time fix is always the aim.
By Philip Whitlam – Field Engineer – Power Control Ltd