Press Release No. 02/22- BGE

Vaccinate, test, inform: how the BGE is protecting its staff during the coronavirus pandemic

The corona pandemic has really picked up speed again with the Omikron variant. To protect its employees, the BGE has taken measures in numerous places to prevent the virus from spreading.

With the arrival of the Omicron variant, the coronavirus pandemic is once again on the rise, resulting in a sharp increase in infection rates in many parts of Germany. The Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung mbH (BGE) and BGE Technology GmbH have not been spared by the virus. Out of a workforce of some 2,350 members of staff, 110 people have so far tested positive since the start of the pandemic. This figure corresponds to 4.68% of staff (as of January 2022). The BGE is steering a course through this prolonged health crisis on the basis of an updated pandemic plan.

Extensive testing programme

The BGE has introduced measures to prevent the spread of the virus at numerous points. For example, these measures include the installation of 191 air purifiers for offices and meeting rooms, the use of 2,100 litres of disinfectant so far, the provision of 355,000 FFP2 and 346,000 surgical masks for staff and visitors, and an extensive programme of testing at the various sites. Since the start of the pandemic, 18,820 self-tests and 7,345 rapid medical tests have been carried out at the BGE. This programme is expressly intended for everyone, including those who have already received three vaccines.

To ensure the best possible protection of staff on company property, external visitors are also subject to the “2G-Plus” rule: access is granted only to people who have been vaccinated or recovered from the disease and can show proof of a negative COVID test result. Despite all of the safety precautions, mine tours remain suspended for the time being.

Vaccination programme for relatives of BGE staff

At the medical level, the BGE has responded by launching its own vaccination programme, delivered by the company doctor. Managing Director Stefan Studt has personally called on employees to take up this offer: “Vaccination is an opportunity, and not getting vaccinated is a risk – for you and the people around you. Protect yourself, your colleagues, your relatives and your friends by getting vaccinated and boosted.”

The team of the company medical service has already administered 1,926 vaccine doses in over 70 vaccination sessions – and it is not only members of staff who have been vaccinated: family members have been able to and still can take up the offer of vaccination in separate sessions at the BGE. The next vaccination session for relatives will take place on 29 January.

BGE crisis committee provides information on current developments

As part of the “Corona-Info” service, a BGE crisis committee made up of 20 members of staff provides regular information on the latest developments in the pandemic, as well as changes to the rules, via the intranet. For example, the crisis committee provides information on the latest hygiene and quarantine rules, on recommendations in the case of suspected infections, and on high-risk areas. There have already been 80 such reports – and there are more to follow. This service helps staff maintain an overview of what is currently going on. For individual questions, the BGE has also set up a coronavirus hotline where staff can obtain additional information to that offered on the intranet.

The BGE has also adopted other measures to support its staff during the pandemic. For example, the possibility of remote working has been significantly expanded through the acquisition of laptops and corresponding communication software. Core working hours and flexitime have been made as flexible as possible in order to improve the compatibility of work and caring responsibilities during the pandemic. At the mine sites, occupancies and descents have been staggered to minimise the risk of contact. Moreover, any infection that takes place in the workplace is analysed in order to derive any potential conclusions regarding future behaviour.

About the BGE

The BGE is a federally owned company within the portfolio of the Federal Environment Ministry. On 25 April 2017, the BGE assumed responsibility from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection as the operator of the Asse II mine and the Konrad and Morsleben repositories. Its other tasks include searching for a repository site for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste produced in Germany on the basis of the Repository Site Selection Act, which entered into force in May 2017. The managing directors are Stefan Studt (Chair), Steffen Kanitz (Deputy Chair) and Dr Thomas Lautsch (Technical Managing Director).

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