The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted lives and livelihoods worldwide, with far-reaching health and economic consequences. During these unprecedented and challenging times, we prioritised the health and wellbeing of our people and stepped up our efforts to support our community. To mitigate risks and leverage the opportunities COVID-19 has brought about, the company reflected on its past activities and engaged with its stakeholders across the board.
Reflecting the challenging period that we collectively faced 2020, COVID-19 served as a timely reminder of the innate fragility in many of our current practices and constructs. While we continued to reel under the impact of the crisis, the pandemic stimulated us to think laterally and revisit our operational optimisation and robustness. The pandemic served as a catalyst for Sohar Aluminium to bring in preventive measures and actions that focused on keeping everyone safe. COVID-19 led us to focus and prioritise, make fast decisions, and engage not only with our employees, contractors, and their families but also community members and the nation.
In the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, our first call to action initiated by our CEO was to create a SA COVID-19 Committee that worked extensively to monitor the progress of the pandemic and take appropriate actions. Operating under the directive of ‘Awareness is Protection’, the Committee worked rapidly to implement extensive precautions to prevent the spread of the virus among our workforces. The best practices and safe operations were established, underlined, and put into motion across our plant, offices, and auxiliary areas. The actions and decisions were communicated to our employees, contractors, and relevant stakeholders in the form of periodic newsflashes and appealing visual messages.
Our teams went beyond the call of duty to safeguard the health of our people and communities and to maintain business continuity in challenging circumstances. At our plant, we spared no effort to ensure that our people were safe and protected from the risk of infection.
At the early stages of the pandemic, we implemented the Five Barriers of Protection which were very effective and continue to be practiced in keeping us safe and healthy from the risk of infection and controlling its spread.
Health & Wellness
- Temperature testing of all people prior to entering the facilities, including the use of hands-free thermometers and thermal imaging testing technology.
- Conducting health screenings for anyone entering the facility.
- Providing extra personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields and protective masks, which are required to be always worn.
Increased Cleaning & Sanitisation
- Dedicated staff to continuously clean facilities, including common areas beyond the production floor
- Germicidal air sanitation which helps to neutralize viruses in plant ventilation and air purification systems.
- Increasing sanitation and disinfection efforts, including deep cleaning of the whole facility every day.
Team Member Support
- Constant monitoring and follow-up by the Medical Centre for people showing any symptom and placing them on quarantine.
- Requiring sick team members to stay home from work.
- Moving all meetings from physical to virtual.
- Providing preventative care to all team members.
- Implementing flexible work-from-home practices for corporate team members.
- Establishing social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols in all operating facilities that remained open and providing additional PPE for employees.
- Closely supervising the health of all workers and training teams to ask for help if they notice co-workers who may be showing signs of illness.
- Establishing leave for workers needing to self-isolate or care for relatives.
Physical Safety Measures
- Complete shutdown of cafeteria, break, laundry, and prayer areas.
- Promoting physical distancing by staggering starts, shifts, and breaks.
- Educating and encouraging team members to practice social distancing at home and in the community outside of work.
- Restricting access to facilities and not allowing avoidable visitors.
- Creating visual aids to help staff be mindful always.
- Ensuring no office gatherings or group prayers took place.
- Prohibiting international and domestic travel.
Lending a Helping Hand
The Sohar Aluminium team made many valuable contributions to help our community through this pandemic. Working towards the common goal of community spread prevention, a group of Sohar Aluminium’s employees volunteered their time and effort to fabricate face shields to protect the front line of defence against COVID-19 in the Ministry of Health institutions. More than 3,000 shields were fabricated & distributed to hospitals in different regions through this on-going initiative. With over OMR 32,635 in donations from employees, Sohar Aluminium strived to support the Sultanate’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 spread while also protecting medical front liners who are the true heroes of this pandemic control progress.
Sohar Aluminium donated a “GeneXpert" 8-module machine and testing kits to the Directorate General of Health Services, North Al Batinah in partnership with SOHAR Port and Freezone. The donation, funded in whole by our employees contributed to increasing the testing capacity in the North Al Batinah Governorate and resulted in speedy test results that better help control, and monitor spread of the pandemic. Sohar Aluminium took a hands-on approach to addressing concerns across the board. Internal and external communications were undertaken through social media, e-mails, SMS, traditional media, and signages. The campaign offered tips for employees, parents, children, and youth to maintain good mental and physical health, to reduce anxiety and depression, to motivate them to think positively and to avoid negative behaviour during and after COVID-19 quarantine period.
Keeping Critical Infrastructure Up and Running While the top priority during 2020 lay in prevention, health and safety, Sohar Aluminium continued working safely to support our customers, partners, and suppliers. We maintained our infrastructure and Operations by working with our associates and the government authorities to maintain supply of services deemed critical for our Operations. Overall, it is inevitable to mention that with the strike of COVID-19, sustainability-related topics have risen to the forefront for businesses around the world. The pandemic, challenging as it is, has spearheaded change and transformation to our everyday lives. As this health crisis continues to evolve, our teams have worked together, and put forward a huge number of bottom-up suggestions for how to manage safety.
We continue to monitor evolving guidance from the National Supreme Committee for COVID-19 regarding exposure prevention so we can ensure our employees, contractors and their families are as protected as possible while the pandemic persists.