East Texas bracing for $30 oil

Abisai Iglesias works in September 2015 at Energy Weldfab in White Oak. The company says it is

following instructions

from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for stopping the spread of the disease.

Longview-area employers are cleaning bathrooms more frequently and taking other measures to protect employees and their workplaces against the coronavirus.

White Oak-based Energy Weldfab said it is following instructions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for stopping the spread of the disease. Guidelines include encouraging sick workers to stay home, performing routine environmental cleaning and advising employees before traveling outside the country.

“We are telling our employees to wash their hands anytime they eat or use the restroom,” said Jacob Palmer, safety director for Energy Weldfab. The company, which has about 100 employees, manufactures processing equipment for the oil and natural gas industry.

Palmer said Energy Weldfab started taking measures during the height of the flu season and re-emphasized the measures with the arrival of coronavirus.

The preventive measures are the same as for the flu and for other viruses, according to a statement from Walmart, which cited the CDC as its source. The symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to the flu with fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Palmer said management at Energy Weldfab also recommends employees who use the break room to clean up after themselves.

“We are recommending that they have a personal bottle of hand sanitizer,” he said. “We also have hand sanitizers throughout the facility.”

Palmer said Energy Weldfab also has doubled the number of bathroom cleanings to four times a day.

The company also advised employees to avoid handshakes and to greet each other instead with fist bumps, Palmer said.

Employees at The Crosby Group in Longview have been instructed to practice preventive health measures to minimize the spread of germs and to stay home when they feel sick, said Bill Fisher, chief human resources, legal and compliance officer. The company, which manufactures rigging, lifting and other equipment, has more than 350 employees in Longview and is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Additionally, we have accelerated the frequency at which all of our break rooms and all restrooms are being cleaned and have hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes available to our employees,” Fisher said in a statement. “We have also evaluated our supply chain readiness and completed a full assessment for each product line to ensure we are taking all necessary proactive steps to ensure we continue to meet our customers’ requirements.”

Other companies said they are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation.

Longview-based Axis Energy Services, formerly Momentum Pressure Control, is following CDC recommendations, said Human Resources Director Shellye Burlison. Axis has 500 employees who work at corporate headquarters in Longview and in operations in Kilgore and four other cities.

She said Axis also is in contact with the Society of Human Resource Management to make recommendations for the company’s locations throughout the United States and is working with Blue Cross Blue Shield to ensure employees have full access to medical care.

“We monitor the situation at the (job) sites every day, and we stay on top,” Burlison said. “We know where our people are at any given moment in areas where people might be affected. We have employees who travel throughout the United States.”

Travel restrictions within the United States and abroad are being carried out from the corporate headquarters of Eastman Chemical Co.-Texas Operations in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Company spokeswoman Kristin Parker said in a statement that Eastman is reviewing business continuity plans, “prudently evaluating the need and attendance at group gatherings and working to implement visitor guidelines for those coming to our locations around the globe.”

Parker said Eastman, which is Longview’s largest employer with a workforce of 1,500 people, also has established a team to determine the appropriate measures to take in response to the spread of coronavirus.

“This team will help guide our actions in responding to a potential global outbreak, including measures to reduce spread of the illness and maintaining business continuity, including IT, procurement, manufacturing and supply chain functions,” Parker said.

Walmart has set up an emergency operations center task force, company executives said in a memo to employees. Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart is the world’s largest retailer and operates three supercenters and a Neighborhood Market in Longview in addition to one supercenter each in Kilgore and Gilmer.

“We’ll address the needs of each store, club and support center in each of our markets, and adjust business operations and travel as needed,” the memo stated.

Other companies with Longview operations say they have taken similar actions. They include ElDorado Mobility and Capacity of Texas, which shares a building and parent company.

Both companies, which have a combined 150 employees, have posted information on bulletin boards and increased hand sanitizing stations.

The Longview Chamber of Commerce said in a statement it is working closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the CDC and several other national associations to stay informed. The chamber’s team also is participating in webinars and conference calls.