How Zinfra Gas Services Combatted Covid-19 Challenges

Zinfra Gas Services workers
Quick Facts
ClientJemena Gas Networks, EVO Energy, Jemena Gas Markets, and Palisade

With the fast-changing environment and escalated risks brought upon by COVID-19, the Zinfra Gas Services team had to adapt to ensure the continued supply of natural gas to residential and commercial customers.

Quick Facts
ClientJemena Gas Networks, EVO Energy, Jemena Gas Markets, and Palisade

Safety First and New Ways of Working

As State and Federal government and international restrictions rapidly rose, our project teams
needed to assess the risks and implement new measures and ways of working to ensure the
continued safety of our people while minimising disruption on works.

From early March, our teams were confronted with numerous challenges, including:

  • Aligning with continually evolving government quarantine and travel restrictions

  • Shifting and enabling more than 180 office-based workers to work from home

  • The continued health and safety of more than 350 field-based team members deemed as
    “Essential Workers”

  • Accessing the short supply and distribution of available PPE and sanitizer

  • Maintaining a connected workplace between the virtual office and field team members

  • Limitations on travel and physical site visits borne from strict quarantine requirements

On top of these challenges was the inability of a key Project Team member to return home from a European holiday due to international travel restrictions, resulting in her working through the pandemic from Germany. 

In responding to these risks, our project teams were required to lean heavily upon their key project management skills, embrace available technology, and become more reliant upon alternate corporate and team resources.

The Embracement of Technology

With quarantine restrictions implemented, our office-based team members had to adapt to working and communicating remotely quickly. To smooth the transition, team members were consented to take home monitors and keyboards to allow for a more ergonomically home set up.

Traditional face to face activities were quickly modified to accommodate remote situations through a larger reliance upon technology applications, including Skype, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

Team connectivity and comradery was maintained through virtual coffees and drinks, trivia sessions and casual lunchtime catch ups.
Technology was paramount in shortening the distance for our stranded Project Manager in
Germany, who then only had to contend with the eight-hour time difference between the two locations.

Technology also played a key role in enabling facility commissioning operations to continue, linking field technicians in Queensland, with Melbourne based engineers, and Sydney based Project Management.

Essentially, while the embracement of technology was unavoidable, even more important was the breaking of norms and “Traditional Mindset,” achieved mainly through strong leadership and necessity.

Frontline Health & Safety

While our office-based workers were able to be confined to working from home, our field-based workers became our frontline required to continue working on-site.

Foremost, the safety and wellbeing of these essential workers was our main priority, and required the swift introduction of a number of new COVID-19 measures and safety protocols, which included:

  • The rapid introduction of fitness to work protocols

  • Physical distancing measures employed on our worksites, including confined spaces

  • Increased cleaning of sites and fleet

  • The procurement and distribution of Covid-19 PPE items including masks, sanitiser and

  • Restrictions on site visitors, non-essential travel and health assessments of Sub-Contractors

  • Staggered field crew break times and outside meetings

The introduction of these measures was also crucial in instilling the confidence in our field teams and their families that we were creating a safe working environment for them to work daily.

Mental Health & Wellbeing

While the initial focus on health and safety was on minimising the exposure of Coronavirus, we also had a focus on the psychological wellbeing of all our team members.

We were mindful of the additional pressures on people born from the need to isolate from their extended networks, necessities to home school children, and the varied impacts of COVID-19.

Additional measures implemented to help emotionally support our team included:

  • Discussions on the importance of maintaining personal mental health

  • The continued promotion of our Employee Assistance Program available to employees and immediate team members

  • Encouraging team members to virtually connect with others for social interactions

  • The establishment of a COVID-19 Nurse On Call service for our frontline workers

  • Increased stakeholder communications

Increased Communications

With team members in isolation and field crews on the frontline, stakeholder communication also became paramount. To allow for an end to end flow of key information we increased communication to all through:

  • COVID-19 business communications

  • Daily and weekly stand-ups with teams and contractors

  • People Leader Calls

  • Regular Field Updates

  • Increased Email communications

A Reliance Upon Others

As a part of a larger corporate group, it was fortunate we could lean upon the resources available to us from the wider team.

A COVID-19 Response Team (CRT) was established to ensure the company developed protocols and safety alerts aligned with evolving state and federal restrictions and sourced the necessary PPE and materials as a group. To ensure relevance to our teams, a subordinate COVID-19 Task Group (CTG) was established to ensure that individual business unit and project needs were met accordingly.

From a micro level, with limitations on-site visits, it became necessary for our Project Managers to also become more reliant upon the help of Field Supervisors to become the ‘eyes and ears’ on-site and help troubleshoot issues. Positively, strong bonds of trust and acknowledgement of our roles have become even more apparent.

Our teams are looking at how we can start implementing a return to work and work within the ‘new normal.’ Taking a slow and steady approach, the lessons learned during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic will become instrumental in establishing a way forward and building new efficiencies and ways of working.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.