Reshaping-Business-PartnerContent-Tristar-for-web
Tristar Head Office in Jebel Ali being sanitized. Note that there are directional signs on the floor on people movement Image Credit: Supplied

When did you start developing a plan to respond to Covid-19?

We started developing a plan as early as January 2020. On January 31, during our regular quarterly safety meeting with drivers and ground staff, we presented the symptoms and dangers of the virus as we knew it at the time, and highlighted the importance of personal hygiene such as washing of hands frequently. Dubai Police and Dubai Chamber officials as well as some of our customers and suppliers attended the meeting. We also created adequate space in our staff accommodation for those who could have to be quarantined, in case they showed symptoms of the virus and had to be tested.

What measures did you implement to ensure your employees were safe?

We initiated several preventive measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our employees. Firstly, we took stock of our business contingency plans and updated for the pandemic situation. We set up a Covid-19 Steering Committee, which oversaw the prevention, testing, and hospitalisation measures to ensure the safety of our employees, and proactively monitored the health of everyone by using a tracking register from the beginning of March, well before the WHO (World Health Organization) declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic.

Our Health & Safety Department formulated the Covid-19 Escalation Matrix for both UAE and global operations, which included guidelines based on three pillars: Initial Assessment, Hospital/Clinic and Patient Management.

Here in the UAE we had to split our 1,000+ drivers among independent housing blocks to reduce the risk of infection and spread. We also set aside a budget of $1 million for out of pocket Covid-related expenses. We identified Al Futtaim Health Hub and Aster as potential partners for testing and in-patient care for our employees, if required. We tested all our staff and as could be expected we did have positive cases. In fact, some cases required hospitalization but our back up arrangements came in handy when we were able to nurse back to good health those staff who tested positive for Covid-19.

- Eugene Mayne, Founder and CEO, Tristar Group

Within this matrix, we listed clinics and hospitals that are located close to Tristar offices and accommodation. Our entry system, which was primarily based on an employee’s thumb impression, was changed to facial recognition. We continued to provide daily updates to all our employees through a Covid-19 Risk Bulletin, which detailed key developments, updated local authority guidelines, as well as global statistics with specific details on Covid-19 cases in each region in which Tristar operates. A separate Covid-19 bulletin was introduced addressed to all our customers and other stakeholders to keep them informed of the various actions we, as an organization, are taking to prevent Covid-19.

Here in the UAE we had to split our 1000+ drivers amongst independent housing blocks to reduce the risk of infection and spread. We also set aside a budget of $1 million for out of pocket Covid-related expenses.

We identified Al Futtaim Health Hub and Aster as potential partners for testing and in-patient care for our employees, if required. We tested all our staff and as could be expected we did have positive cases. In fact, some cases required hospitalization but our back up arrangements came in handy when we were able to nurse back to good health those staff who tested positive for Covid-19.

In Saudi Arabia, we had one case that required ICU care but fortunately, we have so far navigated through this crisis without a single fatality.

Our operations team conducted a special awareness and prevention session and distributed facemasks with the instruction to wear while working. We issued a special bulletin on “Covid-19 Preventive Measures Guidelines” and introduced a “Health Declaration Form” so that employees who are resuming their work after holidays or business trips substantiate their good health without any symptoms.