Vale is taking precautionary steps to protect employees and community members in Thompson through social distancing measures and upgraded cleaning procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba Operations head Franco Cazzola said in a March 20 letter.
The company has instituted a policy requiring employees to use respirators in the elevator cage at its Thompson mines due to the difficulty in maintaining social distance within the confined area. The letter notes that since all Manitoba Operations employees have their own respirators this does not increase the demand for respirators.
Employees at the mines are also taking staggered lunch breaks, avoiding large meetings in favour of other communication methods and being provided with COVID-19 symptom checklist cards for self-assessment.
Non-essential business travel, both international and domestic, has been cancelled and employees returning to Canada from international trips on or after March 15 are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms - fever, cough, shortness of breath - is being asked to stay home from work. Employees who are eligible to work from home are doing so and those onsite have been instructed to practise social distancing. Non-critical contractors are no longer allowed on-site and suppliers are being asked to avoid visits to Vale whenever possible. The company is also in the process of setting up screening for anyone entering the site.
Vale is also employing the online wellness platform Medisys on Demand to do remote screening to help reduce demand on the provincial health care system and has approved the use of faster-acting cleaning products by contract cleaners.
"Everyone has a critical role to play in managing the unprecedented situation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cazzola wrote. “These measures represent our leadership team’s best judgement, at this moment, about the actions we believe are necessary to reduce risk for our people and community. We need to work together for the benefit of everyone at Manitoba Operations and our communities.”