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Protecting employees during the Covid Emergency

To prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the Hera Group launched special procedures as soon as Law Decree no.6 of 23 February 2020 was issued to announce the state of emergency.

The Crisis Committee was called immediately (and is still active). This working group identified the specific hygiene/behaviour regulations necessary for the Group’s employees, communicating the situation promptly to all with a series of internal notices, and introduced a specific advice helpdesk for queries regarding the new virus.

Thanks to extensive use of smart working (also extended to colleagues previously unauthorised for this method), and a reinforcement of flexible online work options, social distancing was guaranteed and the risk of physical contact reduced.  For those employees who ensured the continuity of service throughout the entire emergency, a “leaving home for the worksite” mode was activated – this involves the use of a company car (not shared) and, strictly when necessary only, gathering of the work team directly on-site. Work teams were set up on a ‘permanent’ basis, to limit and contain contact between different individuals as far as possible, while access to company premises was allowed only in specific circumstances and for a restricted number of people.

To protect those employees who needed to be physically present on company premises, a new system of regulations and organisation of spaces/offices was introduced to guarantee correct social distancing between individuals (generally one employee per office and a shift system that considerably reduced on-site presence).

In order to guarantee ongoing provision of essential services for citizens that comply with safety regulations as well as being reliable and efficient, the company re-arranged the schedule for all transmission and maintenance projects of networks and plants, limiting these to essential maintenance works only. Physical contact was limited to urgent cases only, when required to ensure the continuity of service. All employees were provided with appropriate PPE to protect against Covid19 (disposable face masks, gloves, and boiler suits). At the height of the crisis, public information desks were activated in a remote online mode to guarantee continued service for customers via phone and web. As lockdown measures were lifted, the physical branches gradually re-opened, in compliance with health regulations to protect employees and customers alike.

Since the beginning of the health crisis, new cleaning and sanitisation procedures (in addition to regular cleaning services) have been implemented on all company premises. To guarantee correct social distancing, common areas and canteens have been redesigned; canteens also admit staff with a staggered service/timetable. Disinfectant gel has been provided at the entrances, exits, corridors and transit areas in the Group’s offices, while PPE hand sanitiser kits have been supplied to field workers. All additional sanitisation measures continue to be implemented in all the company’s premises.

In early March 2020, a Commission (with the participation of trade union representatives) was set up to oversee and monitor the application of anti-covid-19 safety measures. In the following weeks, the Hera Group developed its own company protocol of measures to protect against the virus (in accordance with the national protocol signed by the social partners in the presence of the government); this document was presented to the Representatives of The Workers' Safety and to national trade union organisations by the signatories.

Following the introduction of this protocol, all adopted measures were (and continue to be) monitored, along with subsequent implementations, through the use of specific checklists of controls performed by the management/supervisors in workplaces in the various regions.

In line with guidelines from health authorities for the protection of employees, a specific procedure has been defined for dealing with vulnerable workers – i.e. those with current or previous conditions that would lead to particularly serious results in the case of infection with the new coronavirus. This procedure was developed with the assistance of medical professionals and is in complete compliance with current privacy laws.

The company has also taken out a Covid-19 health insurance policy for its workers, which guarantees all employees a sick pay allowance, for convalescence following hospitalisation in intensive care and post-hospital recovery assistance. This last benefit covers, for example, a visit by a family doctor, ambulance transport to and from the individual’s home, transfer to and from specialist care clinics, baby-sitter services, accompaniment of underage children to school, and online grocery delivery.

The measures introduced by Hera since the beginning of the pandemic have allowed us to limit spread of the virus among our collaborators – the incidence rate (no. of cases per 1000 people) in the Group is in fact 40% lower than the general average in northern Italy. Furthermore, numerous checks carried out by the authorities at the Group’s workplaces have always provided positive feedback.

As the health crisis is still developing, the general and specific protection measures adopted by the company are subject to ongoing monitoring and checks, and consequently to constant adaptation or modification in order to guarantee ongoing service and the protected health of our workers, suppliers and customers.

 
 
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