Health & Safety: Protecting Workers on a 6MW Deployment in a Pandemic Crisis

Health & Safety: Protecting Workers on a 6MW Deployment in a Pandemic Crisis

An Interview with Enrico Neumann, our Safety and Security Manager.

During a pandemic, in order to respect stringent health & safety measures for the staff involved, data centres with on-going construction in their multiple sites have put in place precautionary measures such as no movement of staff between shifts, no movement of staff between sites as well as no contact handovers and masks worn at all times.

Our health and safety team on the ground have remained alert to changing outbreak conditions, including any federal guidance that has been provided on evolving risk levels as well as any local news on the spread of the virus in the areas surrounding the data centre. They have implemented all infection prevention measures accordingly. We discussed how these procedures have been and continue to be implemented and respected during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis with our health and safety manager.


How was the health & safety program developed for the premises?

“We divided the building into seven perimeters in order to limit contact; construction within security zone 1-4, customer in security zone 5, infrastructure telecommunications room in security zone 6 and the operations centre in security zone 7”.

Enrico Neumann, Safety and Security Manager.

This method provides control on different access points in the building and also limits access between the different zones for the security of the staff and customers.

It was mandatory to assess the hazards to which workers may have to be exposed to; evaluate the risk of exposure and select, implement, and ensure workers used applicable controls to prevent vulnerability in the various zones.

How was the health & safety program implemented?

“During the course of the day, as construction workers picked up their badge and got dressed with the appropriate health & safety equipment, they had to keep a distance of two metres at all times. The health & safety team had to be informed of any scheduled and unscheduled breaks”.

Enrico Neumann, Safety and Security Manager.

Following additional federal guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge was to proactively engage with the problem whilst taking into account the health and safety regulations already in place. The number of personnel required for construction works can be quite considerable and therefore it was necessary to consider how this would affect the operational side. This meant that the whole planning process required a tremendous amount of additional time to organise.

“All the construction works are scheduled on a per weekly basis, this enables us to have a high-level view of the works scheduled and taking place and therefore be able to plan our week better”.

Access points for staff were and are continuously completely separated. Furthermore, the construction area was enlarged with additional containers for the breakfast & lunch area.

“There is sufficient space within the site for everyone to follow the guidelines without any issues. These measures help to provide a safe and secure working environment for staff as well as pushing for only necessary contact with customers should they need to visit the site”.

Enrico Neumann, Safety and Security Manager.

How are staff compliance rates? Has this affected the speed of construction?

Training spaces have been enlarged so staff can follow the mandatory health and safety training programs which remind everyone of current and evolving protocols. There are enforced patrols in place that ensure staff safety and security. Should there be any non-compliance, there is immediate intervention from the security team.

“We record all non-conforming situations that have been reported. We have continuous security checks in place to ensure that health & safety measures are kept at all times”.

Enrico Neumann, Safety and Security Manager.

Enrico mentioned that the speed of construction works has been necessarily slowed down because of the pandemic. The trainings and patrols in place inevitably also take staff time and there is the consideration of additional capacities such as weather which can have an effect as well.

Are health & safety checks audited? Do you have an external provider to help you?

As well as the Federal health and safety program in place, daily and weekly risk assessments have been implemented.

“Yes, we have to budget for additional health & safety providers that help us organise our programs”.

Enrico Neumann, Safety and Security Manager.

A budgeted external health & safety provider has been recruited in order to aid with any professional views including weekly reports. This organisation helps with challenging the current health & safety program in order to provide continuous improvement. We are also audited on everything in order to place checks on our standard operating procedures and other administrative controls. Balance of staff safety and availability is a high priority. It is important also to note that pandemic health & safety measures are dynamic and have to be monitored daily. Therefore an organised health & safety action program is key when protecting staff within a data centre construction zone.