When COVID-19 became a part of our daily lives we were all forced to adapt. For Pierce County O&M Division Maintenance Manager Jeff Campbell that meant retrofitting vehicles used by the county to maximize the safety of their workers while allowing them to continue to do their jobs. Here’s Jeff –
“When we were first experiencing the restrictions of one person per vehicle due to Covid-19, we tried to utilize every vehicle and dump truck we could to provide transportation for our crew members to get out to the job sites. We still found ourselves short of vehicles, so we rented six cars from the local rental agencies to help with the transportation issues. That worked for a couple of months but once we knew we were going to bring on our temporary hires for the summer months, we had to come up with another way to provide transportation to everyone. We looked at our crew cab pickups and SUV’s and took a page out of the Taxi industry and thought about the clear plastic barrier between the front and back seats.
At the time, we had just purchased some sheets of plexiglass to modify our office cubicles so employees could work without having to wear a mask all day. We found out that plexiglass was hard to come by and it was very expensive. So, we knew we had to look at something else and found a vendor, Equipment Unlimited, who had a clear, soft, flexible material that can be custom cut to the ceiling, side panels, backs of seats, and avoiding where the airbag deployments are located. This material is flexible, and it doesn’t distort or obstruct the view for the driver, and it is secured by using Velcro. Again, we are only installing this between the front seat and back seat of multi-passenger vehicles, not in the front seat, between the driver seat and the passenger seat.
Once we had a few installed, we asked an L&I Hygiene Consultant to come out and review the “sneeze guards” in our vehicles. The report we received back from L&I stated that we have done an excellent job of separating the air spaces between front and back seats with the clear vinyl barrier. L&I recommended that we keep the vinyl barrier up off the floorboard and open the windows a few inches to allow the air to flow past the back-seat passenger and out the window. We require the driver and the passenger to both wear a face mask unless the driver is alone.
We have tried to keep vehicles assigned to just one person but sometimes a vehicle will have to be used by someone else. Sanitizing of every vehicle is completed prior to the start each day by a team of two employees who start a few hours earlier. At the end of each day, the driver puts a piece of red tape on the door of the vehicle, indicating that it needs to be sanitized before it can be used again. The sanitizing crew will then place a piece of blue tape on the driver’s door handle after it has been cleaned.
The total cost of the “sneeze guard” is around $150 per vehicle. I’ve also included a couple of pictures of the plexiglass additions to our cubicles that I mentioned above. We are more than happy to help if you have any questions.”
Thank you for sharing your story Jeff and for your commitment to the safety of Pierce County employees. You can contact Jeff Campbell with any questions you may have about implementing a similar system and download a ZIP file with the images he shared or the PowerPoint presentation. Stay safe Washington.