Spanish Service techs go the extra mile to stay safe during Covid-19
London / 18 June 2020
The novel coronavirus has impacted every facet of life in Spain. In recognition of their critical role as essential workers, wind service technicians go to great lengths to ensure their personal safety, as well as that of their customers, colleagues, and families.
With religious constancy, Pedro Martínez carefully checks his temperature before leaving the house for workeachmorning. He knows what an elevated readingwould mean: a phone call to his supervisor and an order to skip the dusty drive from his home near Valencia to his assigned wind farm located an hour away, and stay at home.
Like everyone else, Siemens Gamesa service technicians have had to adjust to new realitiesever since the novel coronavirus swept into Spain. After all, the country depends on them to keep the wind farms up and running to generate clean energy for the nation– for a couple of weeks from late March to mid-April, when the Spanish government deemed that only essential activities could continue, service techs like Pedro were practically the only company employees circulatingin the country. (Factories focused on new component production were forced to shut down for two weeks following the government decree and, in order to safeguard employee health, Siemens Gamesa office staff everywherein Spain has been teleworking since the start of the crisis.)
“In our zonal team of ten people, we haven’t seen any cases of people falling ill or needing to self isolate due to exposure to an infected person,” affirms Pedro. “Recentlythe company had us all tested for Covid-19 and, thankfully, the results came back uniformly negative,” he shares.
For safety reasons, service techs always work in pairs. Before Covid-19, the makeup of these pairs might have beenfluid, but now service techs spend most of their working day with the same personto minimize the chance of contagion. Thus the need for tests: “It’s reassuring for each of us to know that our closest workmate is healthy,” says Pedro.
To get to work, Pedro either drives solo – another risk mitigation practice – or shares a ride with one other tech. They wear full protective gear (safety glasses, respiratory mask, and gloves) for the duration of the trip.
According to fellow service tech Santiago Jimenez, “In normal times, we would check in with customer representatives at the site upon arrival to discuss what needsattention, but now we do everything over the phone to minimize in-personinteractions.”
Traveling one at a time – in pre-Covid times they rode up together – the techs take the elevator to the top of turbine, still wearingtheir full personal protective equipment.Inside the turbine as on the outside, they strive to maintaina safe physical distance from each other, but Santiago admits this is not always possible in the sometimes-cramped quarters within the nacelle. (In instanceswhen social distancing is not possible, personal protective equipment such as a facemaskisalways used.)“We open the hatch to allow air to circulate freely up there as well,” he shares.
At lunchtime, the techs descend and take their meals apart and at staggered intervals – another concession to the need to maintain personal safety during a pandemic.
And when the day is done and they return home, the service techsdon’t leave their safety mindset at work. “At the entrance tomyhome, I remove my boots and place my work clothes inside a sack and head straight to the shower,” recounts Santiago. “I leave the sack with my dirty laundry on the balcony for a couple of days beforewashingthe load, in case I may have picked up anything harmful while on the outside,” he shares.
Concern for workers’ families in a time of disruptionis what drove Siemens Gamesa to adopt flexible scheduling policies for Service employees. “Schools are closed at least until September, and places extra stress onhouseholds with kids,” explains Santiago. “I’m grateful that Siemens Gamesa is accounting for thisas well – it really showsthat they care,” he says.