Chemistry against COVID: Michael and Harsh keep our water flowing
Harsh Shah and Michael Wevill are chemists at Thames Water, with a vital job of analysing samples to keep the region’s water and sewage systems safe and operational.
As key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, Michael and Harsh work hard to ensure they are doing their bit to support the NHS fight the crisis on the frontline.
Working to government advice, Thames Water has changed the way it works, introducing home working where possible to ensure limited numbers of employees are in at one time, while still ensuring the critical work is being carried out.
It is an unprecedented time and working from home is not something Harsh or Michael expected in their roles, which are largely reliant on the lab environment.
Michael added: “This has been done so that we can continue to provide a vital service with limited disruption, keeping our country and essential services safe and operating effectively during these unprecedented times.”
Thames Water, along with many other critical roles, has also implemented rotational shift patterns and stopped any non-essential tasks to free up resources for the most critical work – in this case the statutory sampling that customers rely on.
The main difference that Michael has noticed is he doesn’t see his colleagues as much due to the shift patterns. Due to the nature of his role, where he works with sludge samples on a daily basis, strict health and safety measures such as regular handwashing, wearing gloves and avoiding touching surfaces are something that they are already used to.
Although the World Health Organisation conducted a study and found no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted through water, Thames Water’s work is essential in ensuring that sewage systems operate safe and effectively, and that hospitals, care homes and households have access to clean and safe water at all times.
Speaking of the NHS, Harsh said: “They’re directly working to treat people and fight against COVID-19. We have more of an indirect role, it is amazing what they’re doing and we just want to support them by maintaining social distancing and helping them as much as we can.”
Michael added: “Our work is vital in supporting them, so they can do their jobs as well as they can. We need to carry on with our work so that we can help continue to supply water and sewage treatment works because otherwise they couldn’t function properly and maintain their clean conditions too.”