Exercising an abundance of caution that prioritizes the safety of our workforce and the local community, LNG Canada, JGC Fluor and our subcontractors will be reducing staffing levels, implementing a mandatory work from home policy for non-business critical positions, and deferring many non-essential work activities at site for the time being.
Essential work will continue during this time and includes seasonal activities that must take place within regulatory windows, activities which have commenced and need to be finished to safely secure the area, and unloading of material delivery vessels at the port. This work will be conducted with additional safety, health and hygiene precautions that follow recommended social distancing protocols and all other current recommendations for best practices.
Vince Kenny, LNG Canada Construction Manager
Berni Molz, JGC Fluor Construction Director
UPDATED MARCH 17 AT 9:30 AM.
What action is LNG Canada taking in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?
LNG Canada continues to closely monitor and respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Our core focus remains on protecting the health, safety and well-being of First Nations and community stakeholders living adjacent to our project site in Kitimat and in Terrace, as well as the employees and contractors who may be at a greater risk of exposure.
Preventing the spread of infection and protecting the health, safety and well-being of our staff and our communities is our primary focus and the first step to combat COVID19. We have launched specific hygiene campaigns across the project; these include information about effective hand washing practices and cough etiquette, and good workplace practices including the frequent cleaning of common touch points such as doorknobs, handles, and tabletops.
We have reviewed our health and medical supplies at our project site to ensure our front-line medical staff have appropriate and sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) in the event they are required to respond to a COVID-19 case. In addition, we continue to train and educate our project personnel on proper protocol for safely managing a presumptive illness at site.
Effective management of communicable diseases, including COVID-19, is a key part of our Health Management Plans, developed in consultation with Northern Health, the regional health authority. We continue to work with Northern Health to stay up to date on required protocols for identification, testing, and quarantine of suspected cases, and we are working collaboratively with contractors, medical staff and camp operators to further align and embed procedures across the project.
Is LNG Canada restricting access to and from the Kitimat project site?
We take a firm and proactive approach to minimizing potential spread of COVID-19 across our work locations globally, particularly with respect to our travel policy for staff and contractors.
For the past month, LNG Canada has restricted travel for staff and contractors between impacted countries and regions — including but not restricted to China, South Korea, and Italy — and the project site in Kitimat, to reduce the potential for transferring the virus within the community and directly at site. Following news that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global pandemic, we took the additional step of stopping all non-essential business travel by LNG Canada employees and secondees to the project site in Kitimat. While we monitor the situation closely, our core construction activities remain on track.
Exercising an abundance of caution that prioritizes the safety of our workers and the community, LNG Canada, JGC Fluor (JFJV) and our subcontractors have reviewed the staffing level at our site in Kitimat. We are now following a staged reduction of activities at the Kitimat site, including an associated reduction of site personnel. Demobilisation of staff in non-business critical positions has already commenced with personnel leaving Kitimat, with some following our work from home policy.
Essential work that will continue during this time includes seasonal activities that must take place within regulatory windows, activities which have commenced and need to be finished to safely secure the area, and unloading of material delivery vessels at the port. This work will be conducted with additional safety, health and hygiene precautions that follow recommended social distancing protocols and all other current recommendations for best practices.
The number of staff at our Kitimat site will be gradually reduced to half of current levels over the coming week. This will entail reducing the number of workers flying in on rotation. If necessary, LNG Canada, JFJV and site contractors will implement a final reduction of staff working on site to critical levels required to maintain site security and environmental controls.
Business travel between our construction sites in Kitimat and all other regional and international locations continues to be heavily restricted.
JGC Fluor BC LNG JV (JFJV) operates our site on behalf of LNG Canada. JFJV has formally communicated to their workforce the risks of COVID-19 and continues to provide daily situational updates.
JFJV and LNG Canada sub-contractors currently continue their work rotations and travel to and from the site. All travel rules and procedures are being revisited frequently as we strive to protect our people from this virus.
Have any workers at the Kitimat site been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus? What happens if someone working at the site thinks they might have the virus?
No one working at site has tested positive for the virus as of March 15, 2020.
Should anyone at our site report symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 diagnosis, they have been asked to tell their line manager or site supervisor immediately. If they are staying at worker accommodations nearby, we have asked them to contact medical facilities within the lodge. Each individual will then be tested and quarantined in accordance with protocols provided by local health authorities.
What steps are being taken to protect people living in the worker accommodation centres?
We are working closely with all Workforce Accommodations Providers and with Northern Health to understand the potential threat of COVID-19 on the worker population, with a focus on promoting hygiene and preparing for the potential COVID-19 impacts. Should a worker contract COVID-19, our response will take into account their individual circumstances and travel considerations (with the help and oversight of local health authorities), and isolation will occur where necessary.
All accommodation operators have increased cleaning and sanitizing regiments, and hand washing is mandatory before people enter any dining room and lunchroom areas.
What about marine transportation? Is there a risk that people aboard ships may bring the virus to shore?
The LNG Canada team is closely following Transport Canada guidelines for foreign-flagged shipping. We are adhering to the federal government’s directive, ensuring that crews and shipments travelling between Asia and our project site do not put communities and workers at risk.
Foreign crews arriving at Terminal B do not disembark from the cargo ship when they are in the Port of Kitimat (only exceptions being humanitarian and other events per international conventions, ie: if a crew person needs to see a dentist or has to fly home on humanitarian grounds, etc., and the Chief Officer and crew undertaking cargo discharge.). Foreign crews to our site are not undertaking crew changes and they are not disembarking from their ship for sightseeing or recreational proposes. This approach mitigates the risk of any potential transmission (of COVID-19 or another virus).
Long-established protocols for visiting ships require them to declare any sick persons onboard, before they arrive in Canada. They must also officially inform government authorities through the 96 Hour PAIR (Pre-Arrival Information Reporting) when seeking permission to enter and berth at a port in Canada. In addition, some shippers have initiated daily health checks for all crew members for the entirety of their sailings. For more information please read Transport Canada’s updated guidelines for health reporting.
Do workers at site have access to their own food supplies in the event there are shortages in our communities?
All of the food supplies – including perishables – for our workers are purchased through large regional and global suppliers, such as Sysco and GFS. Community food supplies are not at risk.