Charter Coronavirus Update – July 10, 2020
All – it has been a while since we posted an update. As things had seemed to become more “normal”, we backed off on the announcements as there was no new procedures or operational changes to discuss. With a new surge of cases throughout the region and country, we have a couple important announcements and some changes in our policies that we wanted to get out to everyone.
Although we have not had a Charter employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19, we have had several employees whose families have been affected, up to the loss of their loved ones from the virus. It is a stark reminder of the impact the virus can have.
We want to thank our employees for all the efforts you have taken to keep our workplace safe. Please remember that your actions and the protective measures you take outside of work can have a dramatic impact on those in your life and those that you work with. As the State has reopened, the number of cases in the State has increased – dramatically in some locations. Although we can set policies while you’re at work, we would ask that you practice the four primary methods to minimize exposure when you’re not at work as well. These include:
1) Staying home if you are sick or have been exposed to others who are sick.
2) Practicing proper physical distancing of six feet from individuals not in your immediate household.
3) Washing your hands frequently.
4) Using face coverings in public locations.
Phase 2 Reopening –
As you’ve probably seen, the Phase 2 reopening for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties has been pushed back and probably will continue to be pushed out until the number of cases starts to drop. Once the Phase 2 reopening is scheduled for Washington county, we will begin to invite some employees back into the office. Guidelines and procedures for distancing, sanitation, and face coverings will be in place per CDC and State of Oregon recommendations. If you are currently working remotely, we’ll be in touch with more details as we near the Phase 2 reopening.
Face Coverings –
We originally published and used a policy of voluntary face coverings at our jobsites and facilities unless the owner or general contractor implemented a mandatory requirement. Given the increase in cases and increasing requirements for face coverings at almost all of our project sites, we have elected to go to mandatory face coverings at all of our facilities and project sites. Face coverings will now be mandatory at all times with the following small exceptions:
1) When you are alone in an enclosed area – office or personal vehicle.
2) When at breaks and lunch with adequate social distancing in place.
3) When an individual cannot wear a mask for medical or religious reasons. Individuals should notify their supervisor that they need an exception, but do not need to provide specific information or a doctor’s note.
We understand that this causes a degree of difficulty, especially when wearing safety glasses. In order to minimize the impacts we have had a number of people working on alternate methods of face coverings and safety glasses. Here is a summary of the options available. All of these items are available from the Warehouse.
- We have buffs available and more are on the way. These are available in two colors and employees should receive at least two to allow for regular washing.
- We have a stock of the disposable “medical style” face coverings
- For sites that allow them as an option, we have “medical style” face shields that can be mounted on hard hats or on a hat. These are lightweight and eliminate almost all of the fogging problems related to face coverings and glasses. These face shields are not rated for eye protection and safety glasses must be worn under these face shields.
- We have identified a set of UVEX safety glasses that minimizes the amount of fogging that occurs. These are available in clear and smoke. Although the glasses are not available with cheaters, we have brought in a stock of stick on cheaters for use with the glasses for those of us who need them.
- Where a higher level of eye protection is required, we have “fog free” spoggles available as well.
- Where a higher level of eye protection is required – grinding, drilling concrete, etc. – our standard face shields are available.
Face coverings do not eliminate the need to continue physical distancing. For areas where work within six feet is required, please work with your supervisor or Charter’s EHS team to identify and utilize the necessary PPE.
Thank you again for your efforts.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 21, 2020
There are some important updates that we wanted to provide this week:
Phase 2 Reopening –
Many counties in Oregon have now entered the Phase 2 reopening stage. We expect that Washington County, the home to our office, shops, warehouse, and several large project sites, will enter Phase 2 on or around June 22nd. What does this mean to our employees?
Under Phase 2, there is an allowance for some additional staff in office settings. Based on this, we will be asking supervisors to identify job functions that will benefit by having employees return to the office. For those positions, and assuming the individuals are comfortable returning, we will be having employees return to the office. Staggered days in the office may be required or implemented in some instances. If additional employees have a desire to return to working in the office, we will also review the return of these individuals. Guidelines and procedures for distancing and sanitation will be in place per CDC and State of Oregon recommendations. If you are currently working remotely, we’ll be in touch with more details soon.
Face Coverings –
We have ordered new face coverings / buffs for all employees. A sample picture of the Charter logo face coverings is shown below. The new face coverings will hopefully eliminate some of the safety glass fogging issues related to the medical masks we have provided to date. The face coverings are due in next week. Please contact the warehouse to order them for your location. We have ordered enough face coverings to initially allow employees to receive at least two each. This will allow for alternating days and cleaning of the face coverings. We can easily order more depending upon demand and popularity.
We are also evaluating new safety glasses that can be used with face coverings that we expect to eliminate the amount of fogging. We will let you know soon how these glasses work and when we’ll have them available.
To eliminate physical distancing concerns, Oregon OSHA has advised against carpooling with individuals outside of your immediate household. In response to requests from the agriculture and other industries, including construction, Oregon OSHA has issued new guidelines for carpooling. The new recommendations for carpooling include:
- The driver and any passengers should be separated by at least three feet.
- The driver and all passengers should wear face coverings while in the vehicle.
- All high contact surfaces should be cleaned prior to every trip.
We encourage you to utilize these guidelines if you are carpooling to and from work.
Physical Distancing –
You have probably noticed that many experts are now using the term physical distancing instead of social distancing. Although the name has changed, the guidance remains the same. When you’re around people who are not in your immediate household – including while working, at lunch and breaks, and while walking into and out of your work area – you should maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others. As time goes on and we begin to see less regard by the public outside of work, be conscience that it is easy to relax the importance of distancing and find ourselves closer than we should still be at this time. To date, construction has continued working and has remained safe with few reported cases. This has allowed all of us to continue working, earning a paycheck, and servicing our customers. For this to continue, it is important to remember that we need to maintain physical distancing at our projects and facilities. Please take time this week to pay attention to your physical distancing at work and make sure that you and those around you are maintaining the proper spacing.
Thank You –
If you haven’t yet, please take time to read the thank you message that we posted several weeks ago. We truly appreciate all of the efforts that everyone has put in to keep our projects safe and working.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 21, 2020
There is a lot of discussion in the media, by governments, and by individuals on the mandatory use of face coverings. In fact, it has become a major point of controversy as governments loosen restrictions and businesses begin to reopen.
At Charter, our policy is to provide face coverings at all our projects and facilities and encourage their use, but to leave the use of face coverings up to individuals. We did not come to this decision lightly and understand that not everyone will agree. Based on our research and discussions with state agencies and organizations, we believe that this decision provides the safest environment for our employees and customers. In locations where the General Contractor or owner requires the use of face coverings by our employees, we will comply, except where accommodations must be made for health reasons or where the use of a face covering creates a larger hazard.
In making this decision, we evaluated the following:
- Experts agree that the primary form of preventing exposure to COVID-19 is through physical distancing of six feet or greater. Distancing must remain the primary form of protecting our employees wherever possible. This is in alignment with recommendations from Oregon OSHA.
- There is concern by experts that face coverings provide a false sense of protection to individuals and will result in individuals not properly utilizing social distancing as protection. We share these concerns.
- Where work closer than six feet is required, our employees are to be utilizing PPE that provides protection above that provided by face coverings. Face coverings are not adequate protection for work within six feet.
- The use of face coverings can create a greater hazard to individuals in a construction environment. Face coverings can cause fogging of eye protection and distraction to the wearer. Our employees must be able to see and focus on the tasks at hand.
- The guidance we are providing matches recommendations from the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, Oregon OSHA, the COVID-19 Joint Construction Safety Task Force, and most of our customers.
- Face coverings do provide some added protection in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Our employees are not exposed to members of the public and should be working with other construction professionals who understand the current guidelines and working conditions. All new employees and visitors to our jobsites and facilities are pre-screened prior to visiting the site.
- Although not mandated, we do understand that face coverings provide some level of added protection for both the wearer and those around them. Because of this, we encourage employees to utilize face coverings both at work and when in public locations where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
We do have several jobsites where face coverings have been required by the General Contractor or owner. At these locations, we expect our employees to comply with this additional level of protection. We still expect employees to utilize social distancing and other requirements in our Exposure Control and Reopening Plan as their primary form of protection. Where the use of a face covering causes an issue with an existing health issue or creates a greater hazard, please escalate the issue to our customer to resolve the situation.
We are continuing to work to identify face coverings that provide Charter’s employees the benefits of face coverings while minimizing the issues related to their use. We plan to have these on jobsites in early June.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 19, 2020
Best Practices – Job Site Trailer
We are all trying to be creative while learning to work with the new guidelines in place. Our team at a Confidential Project has identified a method to help separate our employees in the job site trailer. Identifying a new use for a standard tool of our trade, the team is using clear weld screens to separate the work areas. This allows our team to still see and hear each other, while providing separation between individuals. It also provides for easy set up and changes to the layout. An added benefit, Bruce has always wanted his “own office”.
This was a great idea. Thank you for sharing it.
If you have great ideas for methods to make work safer for our employees, please let us know. We’d love to share them.
Stay safe and healthy (and Creative)
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 15, 2020
HP Inc. Restarting Construction Work
On March 16th, our team at HP Inc. in Corvallis was told to pause all construction work on site to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, only emergency construction work has been taking place at the campus. As of this week HP has allowed construction work to restart on site and our team is beginning to return to work. We expect most of the team to be back to work next week. This is exciting news for our project team, who is using the proper precautions and screening to make sure that we can do the work safely. We’re glad to have them returning and excited that they will once again be able to take care of the needs of this important customer. Welcome back.
Employee and Visitor Screening
With employees returning at HP, it’s a good reminder that we must continue to use the proper protocols to keep our project teams safe. As we have employees return to work, hire new employees, and have visitors at our facilities and job sites, it is critical that we complete the proper screening of these individuals. Charter has put a screening process in place to verify that individuals who are sick, have been around confirmed cases of the coronavirus, or have traveled from areas with high case rates are identified before coming into contact with our employees. If you have new or returning members of your team or visitors, please check with your supervisor to make sure that the proper screening is taking place.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 12, 2020
Update on State of Oregon’s Reopening Plan
Last Thursday, Governor Kate Brown provided updated information on her Reopening Oregon Plan. Some of the details have changed since the initial development of the plan. We wanted to provide an update on that these changes will mean to Charter and our employees.
Phase One County Applications – As defined in the initial plan, there are a number of criteria that areas must meet prior to beginning the reopening process. These include reduced cases, increased testing and tracing, and hospital capacity. Counties were able to begin submitting their applications, including their compliance with the reopening requirements, starting last Friday. As of today, all counties, except for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, have submitted their plans for the Governor’s review and approval. Some of the counties with submitted plans may be allowed to start with the Phase 1 reopening as soon as this Friday, May 15th.
Unfortunately, most of Charter’s shops and jobsites are in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. Although the three counties have not said when they will be ready to apply to reopen, it may not be until June. The biggest obstacle for the metro counties appears to be staffing for contact tracing. The State plan requires 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people living in the county. That’s a total of 275 trained tracers for the three counties. As of April 24th, the counties needed to add 200 new trained people to meet the requirement.
Phase One Changes – When a county is released to begin Phase 1, it won’t have a large effect on Charter’s business. It will allow restaurants and bars to open for sit down service (with restrictions) and will allow salons and barbers hops to open (also with restrictions). The counties will also be allowed to open gyms and allow local gatherings up to 25 people.
Phase Two Prerequisites – The new plan requires 21 days between Phase 1 and 2. During the 21-day period, the counties will need to continue to meet all requirements for cases, testing and tracing, and hospital capacity. Based on the current schedules for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, it is possible that we won’t reach Phase 2 until late June or July. The details of what will be allowed during Phase 2 are still under review. It will probably allow us to begin bringing people working from home back to the offices and will allow some increase in the size of gatherings.
Large Gatherings – The Governor noted that large gatherings will not be possible until a reliable treatment or prevention is available and noted that all large gatherings should be cancelled through at least the end of September. This is disappointing, if not surprising news, and will certainly affect the summer and fall plans for many of Charter’s employees. We’ll all need to wait and see what this means for the games at Oregon and Oregon State this fall. Both teams have home games currently scheduled for September.
Face Coverings in Public – The Governor added a recommendation for individuals to wear face coverings in businesses and public settings. This is in addition to the measures for physical distancing, hand washing, cleaning surfaces, and staying home when sick that have been in place.
We want to thank all of you for your efforts to follow the guidelines to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Through your efforts, we have continued to keep everyone safe and to take care of our customers projects.
Although we know how much we would all like things to go back to normal, we’d ask that you continue your efforts, at work and when you’re home, to abide by the measures that have been put into place. As the State begins to open and we all enjoy some of the freedoms that we’ve missed, it is important that we all do what we can to minimize the spread of the virus and to keep everyone at Charter safe.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 7, 2020
Opportunities for New Graduates
One group of people that has been dramatically affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent shutdowns are students. We want to pass along our best wishes to all students and particularly those who are children of Charter employees and customers. Students have lost their connection to their schools and have been forced to attend school in a brand-new way with remote teachers and limited connection to their class mates. Many students have also lost their opportunity to participate in athletics and other school activities that mean so much to them and their entire families.
As we approach the end of the school year, we particularly want to congratulate and provide our best wishes to the graduating seniors. While schools and communities are working hard to recognize these students, it is unfortunate that they are having to miss out on so many of activities related to this milestone achievement in their lives. We wanted to pass along two opportunities available for these students as they take the next step into the world.
The UA Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee has opened applications for steamfitter apprentices. Applications will be accepted from now until May 17th. Additional information is available in the attached announcement and on the Local 290 website. If you know people who are interested in a career in the trades, please let them know about this excellent opportunity. If you know of individuals who are not familiar with a career in the plumbing and mechanical trades, Local 290 and the PMCA recently funded a video and website that exposes people to the opportunities available at the Choose Bigger Website. We encourage you to forward this website link and the registration information onto any young adults that may be interested. You may also see quite a few familiar faces in the video. Please encourage anyone who is interested to begin preparing their application soon as the completion date is coming up next week.
For children of Charter employees who are pursuing other opportunities, we want to remind you that applications for the Ed O’Kelly Scholarship Program for Children of Charter Mechanical Employees are open now. Applications must be completed by May 29th. The Ed O’Kelly scholarship is a competitive program that provides scholarships to eligible children who are pursuing a post-secondary education. The program offers one-year scholarships at accredited institutions in the United States, including trade schools and four-year colleges or universities. It was created by Ed O’Kelly, one of Charter’s founders and its original President. Two children of Charter employees were awarded scholarships last year. This is a great opportunity to help students pay for schooling and we want every eligible child to have an opportunity to apply. Details of the scholarship were provided with paychecks several weeks ago and are available on the Charter intranet. If you have questions, please feel free to contact one of us.
We wish all students the best as they finish up this unprecedented school year and want to congratulate all the graduating seniors.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – May 5, 2020
State of Oregon’s Reopening Plan
Many of you have probably seen or heard that Governor Brown has announced the start of her “Reopening Oregon” plan. A copy of the slides that she presented at the official roll-out last week are located here.
As we were all aware this will be a slow and measured process – your favorite restaurant or local shop will likely not be back to normal operation immediately and we won’t be returning to business as usual right away either. There are several details that the State government is still working out. They have not provided dates for the milestones but they did provide us with a general roadmap of what to expect. We wanted to quickly share what each phase of the reopening will likely mean to Charter and its employees.
Phase One: The timing for the first phase of the reopening will be determined by several important gating activities and some planning that needs to happen at the state level. The gates include evidence of a sustained decrease in individuals with symptoms and documented cases in the state. They also include a requirement for adequate hospital capacity and testing capacity for healthcare workers. The state must also ensure that it has in place adequate testing and contact tracing capabilities, adequate PPE for the healthcare system, and plans in place to protect critical and high-risk facilities (e.g. senior care facilities). Once these milestones are met (we expect to hear next week when they think that might happen), the Governor will begin to lift the Phase 1 restrictions.
In Phase 1, some businesses that have been closed will be allowed to reopen and socializing in small groups may be allowed. The restrictions on non-essential travel, remote work where possible, hygiene, sick employees, and social distancing will not be eliminated. For Charter and its employees most of the guidelines that we have put in place will stay in place for this Phase. We will put in place some new requirements on visitors and new/transferred employees. As testing becomes more available, we will investigate how we can utilize it to make our projects safer.
Phase Two: Phase 2 can occur 14 days after Phase 1, assuming that all the gating criteria are still met. If the number of cases or other gating items trend in the wrong direction, it is possible that the State will remain at the previous Phase or even revert to previous restrictions. At Phase 2, gathering sizes will increase, non-essential travel will be allowed, and more businesses will be allowed to open. This will allow Charter employees to conduct more face to face meetings and will allow more travel between sites. We will need to remain vigilant of social distancing and PPE requirements to avoid a reoccurrence of cases.
Phase Three: Phase 3 is once again gated by 14 days after Phase 2 and an evaluation of the gating criteria. Under Phase 3, gathering sizes will be increased further, worksites will be allowed to operate with normal staffing and businesses will have some of their remaining restrictions lifted. At this point we expect all of our employees who have been working remotely to be returning to our offices and jobsites, assuming that allowances can be made for proper social distancing. Some of our facilities and projects that have been working staggered shifts to allow for social distancing may return to more regular work hours. We will all need to continue to be vigilant on hygiene practices and the need to stay away when sick.
Planning and Execution: Next week (and/or after details of the State plan are released) we’ll be issuing our reopening plan. It will define processes and provide more specifics on the Phasing and how we will approach our work in offices, shops, and jobsites. We know that there will be changes as we work through this process and challenges that we have not anticipated. We truly appreciate the commitment of each of Charter’s employees to complete work in a manner that protects you and those around you. It is because of such efforts that we are nearing the next phase of this journey.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 28, 2020
Charter Adapts to a new Normal
While many things in our lives have stopped or paused for the moment, the hard working men and women of Charter Mechanical are doing our best to adapt. Not many have been able to visit the fab shop in sometime; attached are samples of what they are working on. Thanks to efforts by all those in the company (site project teams, VDC/CAD, warehouse, safety, accounting) we continue to prepare for the future.
COVID-19 Joint Construction Safety Task Force
In response to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on construction sites in Oregon, we were contacted and asked to participate on a Joint Construction Task Force, representing the Portland Mechanical Contractors Association. The task force, started by the Oregon State Building Trades Council, was created to assist construction contractors with implementation of COVID-19 mitigating guidelines in order to protect workers while continuing to service their customers.
The task force is made up of representatives from the building trades unions, including Local 290 representatives, industry partners, management, and employer representatives. We have been meeting online three times a week and scheduling visits to various construction sites in Oregon.
We are proud of the work that this task force is accomplishing and our involvement and look forward to learning from the best practices that it is collecting. Additional information regarding the task force is included in the attached press release.
Also attached is a one-page flyer created by the task force to share many of the key guidelines for individuals to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. Please feel free to share the flyer with your teams at work and with your family and friends.
As the task force makes clear, we are all in this together.
Stay safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 24, 2020
The “New” Normal
Every week there are more signs that Oregon has reached the back side of the coronavirus “curve”. The number of new cases reported every day continue to drop (Oregon Health Authority Reporting) and the number of hospitalizations and the peak need for critical care resources has passed (https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/oregon). There is mounting pressure on State governments to reopen businesses.
That does not mean that things will go back to just like they were before. Health experts warn that many of the practices that society and our teams have put in place to protect people and flatten the curve will need to remain in place to prevent another spike in cases. That means that our work will return to a “new” normal. This normal will include finding new ways to complete work under social distancing guidelines; additional and new PPE for some tasks; increased testing and tracing for individuals; additional screening for jobsites, remote meetings, and, of course, more hand washing.
We will all need to adjust and find ways to adapt to the new normal in order to take care of Charter’s people and our customers. We have started developing plans for the new normal and we know that many of you have developed methods to work safely in the new environment. If you have found a way to do work that incorporates the new work guidelines and makes work safer, we’d like you to share it. If you see areas where we need to improve to better protect our employees, we want to hear those items too. This is uncharted territory. None of us have been through this before – even some of us that are a little greyer than others. We need everyone’s help and ideas.
Please send your ideas to Mark Daskalos (email@example.com) or Cordell Tietz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll make sure that they get to the right place so we can share them. We look forward to hearing from you.
We’ll use this space to communicate out ideas and plans as we collect them. Continue to look here for additional information.
We hope you and your family are safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 14, 2020
Joint Message from UA President Mark McManus and MCAA President Brian Helm:
The UA and MCAA Presidents have issued a joint message regarding the coronavirus pandemic and its impacts to the UA membership and signatory contractors. We think it’s a valuable message and shows that as global organizations that they share and understand the challenges that we are facing locally.
Network Security Reminder:
With a number of employees working remotely, our customers, clients, partners, and vendors settling into new work environments, and updates on the pandemic coming at us all from many directions we wanted to pass along some reminders regarding the need for network security. With new working environments/situations come opportunities for confusion which hackers/spammers/phishers prey upon. Don’t fear, but please be aware.
We’re asking that you keep these things items in mind:
- “Am I expecting this document/email/link from this person?” – Feel free to forward anything to email@example.com and we can help review the email. We have read about many account breaches already, so we want to be highly alert.
- STOP and don’t enter your computer or Office 365 credentials into anything unfamiliar. – Again, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any strange feeling about a site.
- You can always check something phishy – We try to respond quickly to keep you productive. We strive to get a response to all messages within an hour or less. Usually far less than an hour. We’re happy to review a site/email or other question to ensure its not a threat to compromise our systems.
- Nobody is asking you to buy gift cards during all this. – Just don’t. Never. Cordell, Mark, Mike nor Pete will ever, EVER ask you to go and guy them gift cards. Watch for the headers on the top of ALL messages coming from the outside world. If the message claims to be from a Charter executive but it has that header on it, trash it, or forward it to support for review.
- Pick up the phone and call – Consider picking up the phone and calling the individual, client, or vendor. Do not use the phone number on the email. Look up the individual or business and call to verify.
Charter Donates N95 Masks to OHSU:
Charter Mechanical and many of our employees have supported Doernbecher and OHSU through our year end charity event. As you are aware, healthcare professionals and facilities throughout the nation are in need of additional PPE, particularly masks. We received an order last week of backordered N95 protective masks which we utilize at times on various projects. In light of the health care crisis, we are happy to share that we (a collective “we”) donated nearly (100) N95 masks to OHSU last week. It was great to see the smile on the young lady’s face as we approached with the donation. We hope that it will help the dedicated individuals who are caring for those in need. Thanks to all.
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 9, 2020
Finances in Times of Crisis
For most of March, all of us have been dealing with the immediate effects of the coronavirus and trying to answer some very immediate questions related to the health and safety of our families and how we continue to take care of those we care about in these uncertain times.
In addition to the health concerns related to the virus, the economy has been dramatically affected. This raises some additional questions and challenges that people may be turning their attention to now, including:
- Does the recently passed stimulus CARES Act have anything that will help me and my family?
- What happened to the economy and how soon will it come back?
- Are there things that I should be doing now financially to take care of my family?
- My 401k has really gone down in value. Are there things that I should be doing now?
These items can cause added stress to our already full plates during these challenging times.
Cordant Wealth, a financial planning firm that we have used to do employee training previously, did a presentation today that covered these questions plus others. They have generously agreed to share the presentation and information with our employees.
A copy of the information and the presentation are available at www.cordantwealth.com/bear . We hope you find the information helpful. Please be advised that Charter is not in the financial services business and the information is provided for your use but is not a recommendation from Charter.
What’s Coming up Next Week at Charter
The last four weeks have felt like a lifetime. It’s hard to believe that at the beginning of March, we were all behaving normally, fighting traffic, and going to work. We hadn’t heard of “social distancing”, had never seen a school closure (except for the rare snow day), and would not have believed that we would see a day where the Governor closed businesses and all sports would be cancelled. All of us have made it through a lot this month. Thank you to everyone for your diligence and hard work to protect your families and those you work with.
Although far from over, there are some signs that the measures that have been taken by all of us are working to reduce the numbers of people infected. Experts are predicting that the need for hospital beds and life saving equipment may peak in Oregon in a couple weeks. (https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/oregon) We hope that they’re right.
So, while we’ll keep focusing on ways that we can safely continue working while protecting our employee’s health and finances, we’ll also start looking forward next week; to identifying ways that the pandemic and the related shutdowns will affect our work going forward. Charter has a lot of work to do and there will be ongoing challenges. It will take all of us to accomplish this. There is no other team that we would rather take on these challenges with.
Thank you to everyone for all of your efforts and willingness to work through challenging times this last month. We hope you and your family are safe and healthy.
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 7, 2020
– We’ve created an FAQ which hopefully covers a lot of questions we all have regarding the current situation. Please take a moment and review here: Charter FAQs
– Here is comprehensive list put out by ENR, a construction publication, showing current state-by-state statuses
Charter Coronavirus Update – April 2, 2020
Our thoughts on continuing work during the coronavirus pandemic:
The question of whether companies should continue business operations has become a global topic over the last week or two. The basis of our decisions to date go back to the two purposes of Charter:
- take exceptional care of our people,
- and take exceptional care or our customers.
We’ll start with our people. One of the ways that we take care of our people is by providing good paying jobs that allow them to take care of themselves and those that they care about. We want to allow our employees to continue receiving a paycheck as long as possible. Many businesses in Oregon have been required to close and have been forced to lay their employees off. We don’t want to do that unless we’re forced to. We know that our employees count on a steady income and we want to continue to provide that as long as possible.
Another facet of taking care of our people is by making our jobs as safe as possible. We are dealing with new challenges in the methods to do this in the current environment. Some of our employees have been relocated to work from home. This is the best-case scenario where we can provide that option. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for many of Charter’s employees. Many of our craft men and women and others in the company must go to where the work is. The experts at the CDC, OSHA and other agencies have provided new working rules to allow our work to continue safely, and we are utilizing the recommendations of these health professionals. As new information arrives, we have incorporated changes to our work guidelines and have communicated those to our work teams through multiple methods. Where work has been deemed unsafe, we have escalated these concerns to our customers and have delayed critical activities until they can be completed safely. Based on the best guidance available, these work practices allow our employees to continue to work safely. Where employees have still felt uneasy about the work environment, we have allowed them to go home to self-isolate and have worked with the Local to allow furloughs to these individuals.
We are also trying to take care of our employees by protecting them if they do need to miss work. We have begun processing Emergency Paid Sick Leave for those employees who are directly impacted by COVID-19. For those employees who qualify, we are providing up to two weeks of paid time off. The requirements for the program are included in the Department of Labor notification provided to our employees and located on our website. For employees that choose to leave or are required to leave our projects or facilities, we are working with the Local to allow furloughs. Employees on furlough are eligible to apply for unemployment insurance and should be able to receive their full benefits, plus the $600 additional benefit approved as part of the Federal Government CARES Act (please note that we do not know when this benefit will become available). When this is over, we will have lots of work to do. In order to get our great employees back to work, we have authorized a $3,000 Return to Work bonus that will be given to all employees who are subject to a shutdown of a jobsite or facility that lasts two weeks or more.
The second purpose at Charter is to take exceptional care of our customers. Charter has worked with most of our customers for many years. Our customers are building critical facilities that serve the global semiconductor markets, regional transportation providers, and regional water supplies. It is important that we continue to work with these partners to build the facilities that they depend on. Further, the customers we work for have been industry leaders in improving safety for construction tradespeople. They have been our partners for many years in building safely and continue to be during these unprecedented times.
We hope that this helps explain why we are continuing to work on our projects. We will continue to communicate with you through our website as things continue to change. If you have specific questions, please let us know.
I want to thank all of you for your efforts during this challenging time. These are unchartered waters for all of us. We appreciate your work to allow us to continue to build safely.
Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act – Paid Sick Time:
Effective April 1st, Charter is paying employee sick time to employees who qualify under the act. Included is a summary of the act and the situations that are covered under the paid sick time. If you have a situation and are curious if it qualifies, please contact your supervisor.
Charter Coronavirus Update – March 23, 2020
Today Governor Brown issued an executive order related to staying at home, social distancing and the closing of certain retail business. Here are some key points from the order as it relates to Charter and our work.
- The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until it is terminated by the Governor.
- Construction work is not shut down. We will need to abide by rules established in the order.
- Individuals are directed to minimize travel, other than essential travel to or from a home, residence or workplace, to a select list of activities.
- Individuals outside of their home are required to observe social distancing with at least six (6) feet between individuals except for members of their immediate household.
- Work in offices is prohibited if telework and work at home options are available. There are exceptions for positional duties, availability of teleworking equipment, and network adequacy.
- Non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals outside of a home or place of residence are prohibited unless a distance of six (6) feet between individuals cannot be maintained.
- Businesses require that an employee be designated to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing requirements.
- If a business cannot comply with the regulations, it will be shut down.
What does this mean to Charter employees?
- We will continue to staff our jobsites, with the exception of office personnel who are required to work remotely.
- Be aware of maintaining six feet around you at all times, to the greatest extent possible. This includes walking in and out of work, at breaks and meals, and while working. If you believe that your work cannot be completed while maintaining six feet or more between employees, notify your supervisor or EHS Professional. We will look for alternate methods or talk to our customers to change the work.
- Continue to practice good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly and not touching your face.
- Continue to go home and stay home if you are sick. Notify your supervisor and keep them informed of your condition. Do not return until you are better (no fever and other symptoms for at least 24 hours without medication).
- There will be monitors / coaches in our fab shop, warehouse and jobsites. Please listen and be courteous to these individuals. It is their job to keep us safe and working.
- All managers will evaluate if employees who are still working from offices can work from home and will make the necessary arrangements.
For employees who are planning trips over spring break or the weekend, there are additional restrictions in place limiting these activities. Please be aware and review these prior to departing on any trips away from home.
In closing, we will continue to do everything possible to allow our people to continue to work and to take care of our customers. These added restrictions will certainly make many of those tasks more difficult. We appreciate the challenges that everyone has overcome to date and know that we will overcome these latest requirements as well.
Charter Coronavirus Update – March 16, 2020
We have made the decision today to have some of our employees work from home. This is a difficult decision and not one that we have come to easily. In times of crisis, we look to come together and unify. Unfortunately, the nature of these most recent challenges are forcing us to separate. Our business is one that requires hands on work to complete the tasks that we accomplish for our customers. Many of our employees will continue to come to work to complete those tasks. Having others work from home is contrary to our shared commitment to support everyone who completes the work. But, the guidance is clear. The more people that aren’t out contacting others, the better off we’ll all be.
Unfortunately, working from home is not an option for most of our employees. The protection of our employees who will stay at work is equally important to us. With this in mind, we are asking you to take the following steps to increase distancing and contact between you and others at work.
- Experts continue to advise social distancing. Take some time to think how we can limit potential exposures to ourselves and those around us.
- Please eliminate or extremely limit guests to office and enclosed area. When there is need to discuss something with the people who work in these areas, please do it over the phone or ask them to step outside.
- We believe one of the largest risks are in and around lunch and break areas. Please spread out in the areas and avoid sitting across from one another.
- For stretch and flex, please be aware of personal spacing. Break into smaller groups, do S&F individually, or complete S&F in an open area to allow more personal spacing.
- Please wash your hands before and after breaks / lunches. To ensure people have time to do this we have extended break and lunch by five minutes to allow people to stop by a bathroom to wash hands before / after lunch and breaks.
- Be diligent about sanitizing shared tools or avoid sharing items all together. (e.g. Have someone take roll at the TBT instead of passing around a clipboard and common pen).
- Ask for there to be a call in for any meeting. If this is not possible, please keep a reasonable distance from others in the meeting, generally at least six feet.
- We believe the extensive use of gloves in our industry is a huge benefit. Please use appropriate gloves in all work environments. Change your gloves as needed. Be conscious of touching common surfaces when you aren’t wearing your gloves.
- Think about how you travel around the site. Consider walking instead of using a common shuttle and wipe down the steering wheel of shared golf carts. Do not place two people in the front seats of a golf cart.
- We often work closely with partners. Just as we rely on our partners for many tasks, we are relying on each other to minimize potential exposure to those around us.
- Do our best to plan work to minimize work areas with large groups of people, especially for extended periods of time.
- Practice good general hygiene as recommended by the CDC and WHO, including washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning commonly touched items.
- If you are not feeling well please go home immediately, monitor your situation and seek medical attention as needed. If you have the symptoms or if a doctor believes you may have Covid-19, please communicate that so we can take the proper steps for others who may have been exposed.
Please share these guidelines with our men and women working on our jobsites and in our shop. We need to do all that we can to protect everyone at Charter.
These are challenging times, but we will make it through them. Thank you for all that every one of you do for Charter and our customers. We will continue to communicate changes in our policies and guidance as we move forward.
Charter Coronavirus Update – March 12, 2020
As many of you have heard, the State of Oregon has instituted new guidelines related to the coronavirus and workplaces. We are monitoring the guidelines and are working to make sure that all the measures provided are in place.
To that end, we will have several locations where we will be moving desks to provide employees with more distance between employees. We will also be limiting the number of meetings that are occurring and changing how we handle those meetings. On some jobsites, we will see additional changes. We are working with the owners and general contractors and will notify you of those changes as they occur.
In order to protect everyone at Charter, we wanted to update the information we provided last week on what to do if you or someone you are in contact with is sick.
- If you are sick, please go home. Evaluate your illness based on the following:
If you have the symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or, if you have been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19, call your doctor. Additional information and guidelines for individuals who believe that they are sick with or have been exposed to the coronavirus is available at this CDC Website If you are confirmed with COVID-19, please notify your supervisor and stay at home until you are released by your healthcare provider.
If you are sick, but do not have symptoms of coronavirus or are cleared of the coronavirus, stay at home until you are no longer sick and you are free of fever (100.4° F or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms, including cough, for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
- If you have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of the coronavirus, please go home.
Call your healthcare provider and notify them. You will probably be put under quarantine. The incubation period for coronavirus is 14 days. Please do not return to work until your healthcare provider has released you from quarantine.
“Social distancing” is one of the best ways that the experts present as a means to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus. This means cancelling large events and gatherings and avoiding being in close contact with others. We are attempting to take steps to create social distancing between people but need your help with this.
- If you are sharing space with another individual, create as much space between you as possible. Ideally six feet. This may mean not sitting next to each other or standing separately.
- Limit the number of meetings, the number of people who need to attend those meetings and, where appropriate, allow people to attend remotely. If you are invited to a meeting and wish to attend it remotely, please ask the organizer to set up for a call in or log in meeting. We have several systems for this available at Charter. If you need access to one, please contact Jerry Jeldness.