At Work: lending a sanitized hand

Editor’s note: At Work is a series of Transforming Edmonton posts that tells the stories of City of Edmonton workers working behind the scenes during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jennifer Chiang and her team saw it coming.

In January, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Canada, Chiang and the Waste Services team at the Research and Development lab at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre started thinking about disinfectant.

“We started making 70% ethanol spray and distributing it to various operational areas around the waste management centre,” said Chiang, Laboratory Scientist at the R&D Facility.

“The spray can be used to disinfect the working bench surfaces and also high-touch surfaces such as machinery handles and door entrance handles.”

Chiang said the team wanted to make sure employees were safe in case the coronavirus turned into something bigger and worse. Which, of course, it did.

From handles to hands

The next step happened a few weeks ago when Chris Fowler, Director of Waste Collections, asked if the lab could make hand sanitizer for frontline employees.

Ellen Tian, Director of Technical Services, checked with the team. And said yes.

The lab acquired more alcohol and one thousand of the four-ounce pharmaceutical-grade spray bottles. The City’s Occupational Health & Safety team reviewed the safety data and gave a green light to use the spray as a hand sanitizer.

Some of the City’s waste collectors were among the first of the frontline staff to benefit from the in-house science.

“Since receiving the additional supplies we ordered, we’ve made more disinfectant which we delivered to Kennedale [Facility] where the waste collectors work, “ said Chiang. “This week we will drop off another 250 bottles to Kristin Arnot, Reuse Centre Operations Coordinator, who is handling our distribution.”

A show of hands

Tian said the gift of sanitizer is well received.

“This is a great example of how we are coming together during this difficult time,” said Tian. “I am really proud to lead a team of such forward thinking and helpful individuals.”

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows Jennifer Chiang filling a bottle with disinfectant spray solution.