There’s nothing easy about day-to-day living under the threat of becoming a coronavirus pandemic statistic. Eliminating as many risks as possible gives you a better chance of avoiding that scenario — and can keep your crew running as long as possible.

At Fashion Blacksmith, a boatyard in Crescent City, Calif., known for its sponsoning and lengthening of fishing vessels, owner Ted Long works daily to do just that.

Long began preparing his crew for dealing with coronavirus by helping them understand the disease. For that, he brought in his safety inspector, George Walker, a retired Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector whose runs George Walker Safety and Health Management in McKinleyville, Calif.

Walker usually has a monthly safety meeting and a walk-around safety check with Fashion Blacksmith’s 10 employees, but for this one it was a 90-minute talk about the dangers of coronavirus. The crew of a fishing boat that was in for work was also invited, “because we all have to work together,” says Long.

That same attention to detail that goes into sponsoning a boat has gone into organizing each workday since the advent of coronavirus, so the chances of being infected while at work are minimized. It starts with a meeting every morning where employees are asked, “How’s everyone doing?” Did they go out the previous night, and was anyone at their house? Temperatures are taken as a precaution.

Throughout the day, employees stay as far apart from each other as possible, and cleaning wipes and sprays are located throughout the building. Any UPS deliveries are left outside on a table.

Each day the crew quits about 15 minutes early to clean all their tools and working gear. After everyone leaves, Long puts on protective clothing, including a respirator mask and gloves. Then with a high-volume, low-pressure sprayer, he sprays disinfectant in the bathrooms, break area, chairs, stairs, and on equipment used that day.

In fact, when coronavirus started to be seen as a threat, the restrooms were stripped down, repainted and given new fixtures. “Did it for the coronavirus, so they could be cleaned more easily,” says Long.

None of the crew at Fashion Blacksmith has come down with covid-19. However, by the end of the first week in April, two cases had been recorded in Crescent City. If that number goes to 10, Long says, they could have to stop working.

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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