A.G. Coombs Group Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Key Aspects at 14th April 2020

1. Does your business have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) policy and response procedure?

We have recognised that the Australian Government has enacted its Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency response plan and is now operating on the basis the virus is a declared pandemic. We are closely monitoring and following Commonwealth directives. We also recognise that each State and Territory may have different responses and we are closely monitoring these and reacting as appropriate.

As a business, we have implemented a coordinated plan to manage the health and wellbeing of our employees and service providers as well as detailed Business Continuity Plans to ensure we continue to operate effectively for our valued clients and industry partners.

As a leading specialist building services provider, A.G. Coombs is also working closely with industry associations and government bodies to disseminate information to assist building owners, operators and occupants in the current situation. The A.G. Coombs COVID-19 Resource webpage (coming soon) and our series of COVID-19 related Advisory Notes are examples of this.

2. How are you monitoring employee overseas travel and managing return to work?

On 7 February 2020 we sent a mandatory survey to all staff to identify possible exposure to COVID-19. Since that time and with the situation continuing to change, and notwithstanding current travel bans, we require all employees who are planning to travel overseas to notify us and keep us updated of their travel plans.

We are continuously monitoring the advice and directives of relevant government authorities and implementing their recommendations.

On the basis of current Federal government advice

  • Employees who return from overseas must isolate for 14 days from the date of return.

We also require:

  • Any employees who have isolated for 14 days after their return from overseas are required seek approval before returning to work.
  • Employees who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, must notify us and isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case.
  • Any employees displaying the identified COVID-19 symptoms (fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue, shortness of breath) are required to seek medical assistance, notify us and seek approval before returning to work.

We require all employees to notify us if any of these situations apply.

We have communicated with our sub-contractors and service providers requiring their assurance that they have the recommended protocols in place for people returning from overseas travel and or returning from self-quarantine, and that they continue to monitor and apply government directives and advice.

3. What guidelines have you implemented to prevent the spread of communicable diseases within your workforce?

In line with government guidelines, we have provided our employees with the following guidance and resources outlining basic hygiene requirements to stop the spread of communicable diseases such as COVID-19.

  • washing your hands often with soap and water
  • using a tissue and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • trying not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • avoiding close contact with others; such as touching and handshakes
  • Provision of hand sanitiser at our locations and posters communicating the above advice.

Along with access to up to date advice sources including:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

We have banned all business-related air travel.

Our approach includes a range of tactics including the splitting of functional teams and enacting a remote working regime for non-field or site personnel, significant upgrades to IT infrastructure, supply chain activities and other special arrangements to support our extensive site teams and service technicians.

Where our office locations are still in use to support site and field personnel, we have limited face to face meetings and are applying government social distancing guidelines.

Where social distancing is not practical on construction and maintenance sites, we have enforced protocols in place including the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other procedures. All site and field personnel have been issued with PPE kits and these are able to be readily replenished.

We are complying with industry guidelines and particular client and or site requirements for site access and on-site activities.

4. How are you managing potential supply chain impacts of COVID-19?

The A.G. Coombs Group is working closely with our clients, sub-contractors and suppliers to ensure that we continue to deliver our services, and to identify and manage possible supply chain issues and other implications.

We are continually communicating with our sub-contractors and service providers requiring their assurance that they have the recommended protocols in place for people returning from overseas travel or identified with COVID-19 or having come in contract with COVID-19, and that they continue to monitor and apply government directives and advice.

Additionally, to date we have been assured of their ability to support the delivery of our services.

5. Does your company carry adequate stock/spares to service my facility?

We have direct and continuing feedback from our suppliers of key replacement systems components and typical consumables, to date we have been assured that there is availability of these parts and materiel, and they do not see supply issues based on current stock levels and those currently in transit. We are actively monitoring the situation and remain in close contact with our suppliers.

With general parts and consumables there are often multiple alternate supply sources.

Where we have contractual requirements to hold defined spares and or consumables, these are in place.

6. Does your company have contingencies in place to be able to service my facility?

The A.G. Coombs Group has a Business Continuity Plan in place to ensure we continue to operate effectively for our valued clients and industry partners.

We believe we have adequate resources in place to address foreseen requirements. Should you have any particular concerns with regard to your requirements please contact your Contract Manager or Project Manager.

7. Will your goods and services be impacted due to a building or business shutdown?

The Australian building construction and building services industry has proactively advocated to all Governments the importance and essential nature of the services provided to buildings in order to keep them operating safely and effectively, particularly in identified critical facilities including healthcare, government and civil defence, and telecommunications and data processing. The A.G Coombs Group has played a material role in much of this advocacy work. The feedback to date including from the Prime Minister’s office has been very positive indicating that government understands this and if required will formally identify building services including maintenance as an ‘essential service’.

In respect to this the Victorian Building Authority has stated that, ‘…that the stage one restrictions announced by the Premier do not apply to construction sites and plumbing services.”(see  https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/about/coronavirus). Note that ‘plumbing services’ in Victoria can include HVAC and fire services aspects.

The NSW Government introduced a public health order on movement and gatherings. It has stated that the restrictions do not prevent people working or travelling to construction sites. Nor do they stop construction projects. The new public health order contains a list of essential gatherings that are exempt, and construction sites are specifically included in that list.

Additionally, the essential services maintenance services as provided by the A.G. Coombs Group are central to building related Essential Services legislation in all State and Territory jurisdictions.

We are currently engaged in working closely with our clients in supporting the operations of multiple critical facilities along with the construction of new and repurposed medical facilities, new and repurposed pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing facilities and new data processing capabilities.

We assure you of our continued focus and support in the operation of your critical facilities.