BEYOND NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS


Staying safe: All high touch-point areas such as door handles and lift buttons at PKT Logistics Group are installed with antimicrobial copper films to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

WHEN PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd was first informed that an employee was suspected to be positive for Covid-19 last month, it was the swift and decisive action taken by its leadership that put the business back on track just a few days later.

But that is not the only thing the logistics group got right. It went a step further by going public and being fully transparent in how it dealt with the situation, which went a long way in reassuring its stakeholders.

Having prevented such a crisis, its group chief executive and managing director Datuk Michael Tio believes that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can learn from PKT Logistics Group’s experience to establish proactive safeguards - beyond adherence to the government’s Covid-19 standard operating procedures - to minimise disruptions to business continuity.

He said, “Our experience can serve as an example for industry players to manage their business, in the event that an employee is positive for Covid-19. [Thus] we want to share our experience of curbing the spread of Covid-19 at our office and in turn, help SMEs better prepare themselves.”

Kuan: Shared food and utensils were a main cause of infections.Kuan: Shared food and utensils were a main cause of infections.

Although it shared the same concerns as many other companies that a Covid-19 positive employee would cause large scale infection, in turn causing operations to shut down for 14 days, Tio said that the first move is to keep calm.

“When we first received notice that an employee was diagnosed with Covid-19 when taking a rapid test at a government clinic, we didn’t panic and send everyone home, but quickly activated a Covid-19 crisis team, kept our employees updated to reduce fear and immediately performed temporary rapid tests on all employees on the same day, ” he shared.

Doing so revealed that only one floor of its office had suspected Covid-19 cases, with a total of 14 PKT Logistics Group employees testing positive.

The next day, PKT Logistics Group shut down its offices and warehouses in Shah Alam and conducted mass nasal and oral swab testing on-site for more than 500 employees.

Cheah: PKT Logistics Group implemented extra safeguards to protect its employees.Cheah: PKT Logistics Group implemented extra safeguards to protect its employees.

While employees were home awaiting results, it fully disinfected and cleaned its office, warehouse and even its fleet of delivery trucks.

Thanks to these efforts - and working closely with the Health Ministry - it was given the green light for PKT Logistics Group to reopen its operations less than a week later.

That said, Tio stressed that the group encourages its employees to work from home as much as possible to reduce related risks.

Taking extra precautions

Aside from the routine procedures, the crisis team also implemented extra safety measures to prevent any recurrence.

PKT Logistics Group chief operating officer Jason Cheah said that in addition to adherence to SOPs, antimicrobial copper films were installed at high touch-point areas such as elevator buttons and door handles, so employees could feel safer coming back to work.

Improvised spray paint guns were purchased and filled with disinfectant spray for employee use before they start work.

Clear communication: Tio (top left) constantly connects with PKT staff members through online tools such as video conferencing, as he believes communication with stakeholders is key to align them with the group’s goals.Clear communication: Tio (top left) constantly connects with PKT staff members through online tools such as video conferencing, as he believes communication with stakeholders is key to align them with the group’s goals.

It also moved some of its IT equipment off-site as part of its business continuity plan, in order to ensure that the group’s operations can be supported in case of on-premise disruptions.

Most importantly, Cheah said it was key to segment work areas by zone, of which PKT Logistics Group split into five zones.

“People working in each zone limit their movement within that area, in order to avoid contact between the areas as much as possible, ” he said.

This was because when an internal investigation was done by PKT Logistics Group’s chief marketing officer Kuan Eu Jin at the epicentre of its Covid-19 infections, one of the causes was traced back to shared food and utensils, which was why it temporarily closed its cafeteria.

“For those who had to be in the office, we advised them to bring their own utensils and eat at their own cubicles, ” he said, adding that the group provides packed food for its employees.

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