Freestate Hotline  (301) 575-5790


March 23, 2020

The governor of Maryland made an announcement a short time ago stating that all “non-essential” businesses in the state were required to shut down at 5PM today. We have received further guidance from the governor’s office that “Commercial and residential construction companies” are considered to be essential. Therefore, unless individual jobs decide to shut down, we do not anticipate any sort of interruption or change in our current day to day operations. As of now, there have been no new announcements regarding Virginia, DC or West Virginia. This is a very fluid and rapidly changing situation, so we will be sure to pass any additional information on as soon as we receive it. In any case, we want to encourage everyone to observe the social distancing and hygiene standards that are in place so that we can flatten the curve and lessen the impact of this virus on all of us. Again, thank you for your understanding and for you continued hard work.


March 18, 2020

COVID-19 Daily Update 

Additional Jobsite Recommendations

  1. Wipe down hardhats and safety glasses each day
  2. Wash your safety vest and gloves with your other work clothes
  3. Wipe down your lunch boxes
  4. Limit the sharing of tools.
  5. Minimize elevator/hoist use. Carry material up the stairs if possible
  6. If you are coughing and/or sneezing, wear a mask or cough into your elbow to minimize the spread of germs

What is Freestate doing to prepare for potential job site shutdowns?

In terms of jobsite shutdowns, there are two potential scenarios: Job is shut down by the GC due to the presence of individuals who test positive for the Coronavirus or Federal, State or Municipality mandated shutdown. In either one of these two situations, we want to be able to communicate quickly and effectively with all our employees who are being impacted. To that end, we have started collecting cell phone and email addresses from everyone. At the same time, we are in the process of setting up a hotline phone number that can be accessed where employees can get updates or direction to return to work. Additionally, we have the capability to send mass emails and text messages. We anticipate being ready to send out mass communications and having the phone number active by 3/19.

If I’m forced to stay home due to exposure, positive COVID-19 test or jobsite shutdown, will I get paid?

For signatory employees, there is an agreement between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the IBEW that addresses this situation. In a nutshell, the agreement says that with regards to the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, if an employee is denied access to a jobsite by an employer or other appropriate public or private authority in response to the Coronavirus or similar disease, the employer shall be allowed to temporarily furlough the employee and the employer will not contest any unemployment claim filed by the employee. Once the jobsite restrictions or closure is lifted, the employee shall be allowed to return to their original position without having to go back through the referral process. The agreement also states that if an employee is removed from a jobsite due to potential exposure of the virus, or due to contracting the virus, the employee can not return to work until the obtain a release from their doctor.

The short, simple version of this agreement is – If the job you are working on is shut down, we will temporarily put you on furlough and will agree to sign off to allow you to get unemployment benefits. Once the shutdown ends, you will return to your job without going back through the hall.

For non-signatory employees, PTO will be used. In the event of a prolonged shutdown or lack of PTO, we will use the same furlough process as with the signatory employees, which will allow unemployment benefits to be used.

The bottom line is, we are hopeful that we can avoid any sort of mandatory shutdown. At the same time, we are trying to be prepared to deal with all possible outcomes as this situation is evolving quickly. As always, please contact HR with any questions.


March 17, 2020

COVID-19 Suggested Practices for Field Operations

The following information is the known best practices currently.

Freestate Electrical Companies’ first and primary concern is the well being of our employees. Therefore, Freestate is taking proactive steps to protect the jobsite to prevent COVID-19 outbreak. It is the goal of Freestate during any such time period to strive to operate effectively and ensure that all essential work is maintained and that employees are safe within the jobsite.

Best Practices for Preventing the Spread of Infection in the Jobsite

  • Staying home when Ill if you feel any of the symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and fatigue until at least 24 hours after they are free any signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • During the workday Social Distancing of 6ft is suggested while working on the jobsite to avoid face-to-face.
  • Employees shall maintain good personal hygiene practices including frequent hand-washing, covering coughs, and avoiding touching their face.
  • To avoid contact surfaces, Freestate’s policy of 100% Glove protection shall be enforced. Employees should maintain their gloves by regular washing and air drying.

Best Practices for Clean Jobsite (aka tools, gangboxes, etc)

  • It is unknown how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces but it is recommended to clean and sanitize gangboxes and tools and avoid sharing personal tools.
    • Remove visible soil and dirt from surfaces using mild soap and water.
    • Apply a disinfectant to kill pathogens. Common cleaners include:

-Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

-Lysol Disinfectant Spray

-Purell Multi Surface Disinfectant

-A 50/50 mix of bleach to water solution in a labeled spray bottle

  • Paper towel and/or cloth should be used in all applications and disposed of in common trash.

Please contact Human Resources at (301) 572-0138 with any inquiries of questions.


March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Control Policy 

Freestate Electrical Companies’ first and primary concern is the well being of our employees. Therefore, Freestate is taking proactive steps to protect the workplace in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. It is the goal of Freestate during any such time period to strive to operate effectively and ensure that all essential services are continuously provided and that employees are safe within the workplace.

Freestate is committed to providing authoritative information about the nature and spread of infectious diseases, including symptoms and signs to watch for, as well as required steps to be taken in the event of an illness or outbreak. A committee has been designated to monitor and coordinate events around a COVID-19 outbreak, as well as to create work rules that could be implemented to promote safety through infection control.

Preventing the Spread of Infection in the Workplace

Freestate Electric will strive to ensure a clean workplace, including the regular cleaning of objects and areas that are frequently used, such as bathrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms, door handles and railings.

We ask all employees to cooperate in taking steps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. The best strategy remains the most obvious—frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water; covering your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough; and discarding used tissues in wastebaskets. We will also install alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the offices and in common areas.

Unless otherwise notified, our normal attendance and leave policies will remain in place. Individuals who believe they may face particular challenges reporting to work during an COVID-19 outbreak should take steps to develop any necessary contingency plans, and should contact their supervisor or HR with any questions.

 

Staying Home When Ill

Many times, with the best of intentions, employees report to work even though they feel ill.

However, in light of recent developments with the COVID-19 virus, it is critical that employees do not report to work while they are ill and/or experiencing the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with an infectious illness such as the flu remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Employees who report to work ill will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines.

 

Requests for Medical Information and/or Documentation

If you are out sick, show symptoms of being ill, or out because of someone who has come into contact with the virus, Freestate will request information from you and/or your health care provider. In general, we would request medical information to confirm your need to be absent,

to show whether and how an absence relates to the infection, and to know that it is appropriate for you to return to work. Note that you will not be allowed to return to work without authorization from a medical professional. As always, we expect and appreciate your cooperation if and when medical information is sought.

 

Confidentiality of Medical Information

Our policy is to treat any medical information as a confidential medical record. In furtherance of this policy, any disclosure of medical information is in limited circumstances with supervisors, managers, first aid and safety personnel, and government officials as required by law.

Social Distancing Guidelines for Workplace

Given the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Freestate is implementing these social distancing guidelines to minimize the spread of the disease.

During the workday, employees are requested to:

  1. Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Employees are encouraged to use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
  2. If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room and sit at least one yard from each other if possible; avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  3. Avoid any unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone nonessential meetings, gatherings, workshops and training sessions.
  4. Do not congregate in work rooms, pantries, copier rooms or other areas where people socialize.
  5. Encourage members and others to request information and orders via phone and e-mail in order to minimize person-to-person contact. Have the orders, materials and information ready for fast pick-up or delivery.
  6. Refrain from having outside guests and children in the offices. This could increase the risk of exposure to employees.

Once again, Freestate’s priority is to ensure the health and well being of our employees. We will be putting out periodic communications via email, social media (Facebook) and on our website (https://www.freestateelectric.com/covid-19/) as well as via memo. Please contact Human Resources at (301) 572-0138 with any inquiries of questions.