Safety Champion: Chris Turner of Facilities Management

Facilities Management Supervisor Chris Turner does a lot of plumbing repairs. You can find him often replacing sewer drains and the like in Clermont County’s nearly 1 million square feet of building space.

But with the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, Turner found himself in the midst of a major health and safety effort.

“When COVID came, that was quite a feat making our own hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial disinfectant wipes and Plexiglas shields,” said Turner, who joined Facilities Management in January 2017. “For about three months, that was 95 percent of my job.”

The innovation drew attention from county governments across the country, as well as the local media. They were impressed at the way the county made and distributed its own products during a time of shortages. Facilities Management tapped local sources for ingredients, looked up mixtures on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, and conferred with a chemist at Clermont County Water Resources.

“Chris was instrumental in handing out PPE during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Caudill said. “He built safety shields, bottled hand sanitizer, packaged sanitary wipes…”

Besides the sanitizer and disinfectant, Facilities distributed gloves, masks, tyvek suits and (when available) Lysol spray. They also provided 5-gallon bottles of IMS III New Calgon to first responders.

Turner gives credit to the small-but-mighty Facilities Management team. The unit led by Wade Grabowski includes nine people in the field and an administrative support person. As essential workers, they came into the office throughout the pandemic.

“No way could one person do this,” Turner said. “It took all of us. It’s an honor for Gary to nominate me for Safety Champion, but everyone helped out.”

The team literally built hundreds of Plexiglas dividers. They mixed more than a hundred gallons of 99-percent alcohol with baby wipes to produce anti-bacterial disinfectant wipes. Turner opened 100-wipe packets purchased at Wal-Mart, Meijer and Sam’s, turned them upside down to drain liquid, and funneled in 91-percent alcohol.

To make hand sanitizer, Facilities transferred pharmaceutical-grade alcohol into 3-ounce bottles. After getting feedback that the alcohol caused dry skin, Facilities added a second “brand” with two to three parts alcohol to one part aloe vera, as recommended on the CDC website.

Turner credits all 10 Facilities teammates with striving for safety. For example, he points out that Drew Allen does a great job maintaining the county’s fire extinguishers. He keeps an eye out for spills or clutter in emergency exits while delivering inner-office mail.

“We take care of a lot of things that nobody reports,” Turner said. “We’re not just repairing things that have broken down.”

Caudill appreciates Turner’s attitude and approach, as well as that of others in Facilities.

“Chris is very safety conscious and works well with others,” Caudill said. “This all contributes to a safer work environment for all of us.”