BP Alaska is donating the code for a new online program to track workers’ health

A screenshot of BP Alaska’s new online data hub for its workers, including those who must log their health information during their two-week quarantine in Anchorage. This screenshot was taken for presentation purposes. (Courtesy BP Alaska)

Oil and gas company BP is using a new online platform to track its out-of-state workers’ health. And now, it’s offering the code to the program to other organizations for free.

“It could be applicable to any other industry,” said Jerome Leveque, a data manager at BP Alaska. “It’s not really limited to oil and gas. So, you know, fisheries or tourism or anybody who’s traveling in state or coming from out of state could use this.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to do business differently and, in some cases, monitor their employees’ health closer than ever.

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BP brings hundreds of workers from out of state to Alaska’s North Slope for their shifts at the remote oil fields. But first, the workers must quarantine for two weeks at Anchorage hotels, said BP Alaska spokeswoman Megan Baldino.

That started about two months ago, and prompted the question: What’s the best way to monitor those workers for illness?

Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said companies bringing out-of-state workers to Alaska need to document their plan for screening employees, but they’re given latitude about what measures to use.

BP’s process started with a lot of paper. At first, Leveque said, “everybody was using paper and our medical provider, Beacon, was going door-to-door and filling out papers and taking temperatures twice a day.”

Leveque said BP wanted to find a more efficient way that included less human interaction. So it hired a software company called Resource Data to create a digital hub for its workers. The new platform launched earlier this month.

Now, Leveque said, workers can log in to the program on their cell phones, computers or tablets. Twice a day, while in quarantine, they take their temperatures and type in the results. They check the boxes of any symptoms they’re experiencing.

The platform relies on honesty and the Internet. Leveque said it has sped up the workflow. The program also automatically alerts the company’s medical provider of fevers and other health concerns like a cough or muscle aches.

“We send an immediate text message and alert emails to the medical support teams,” Leveque said. “So we can really deal with any symptoms as rapidly as one can.”

Related: Wristbands, longer shifts, fever checks: How Alaska oil companies are responding to the global pandemic

Using the program, BP workers also record their quarantine locations and contact information. The company posts coronavirus-related messages and news. There’s another portal for the screening questions they have to answer before they fly to Prudhoe Bay.

According to Baldino, roughly 50 BP workers are in quarantine on any given day before flying north. BP’s Prudhoe Bay workforce totals about 1,000 employees, and nearly 40% live out of state. So far, BP has reported one of its employees at Prudhoe Bay testing positive for the coronavirus. That happened in late March.

Baldino said employees can still opt to use paper forms to fill out their health information instead of the software. As of last week, workers had filled out more than 700 online quarantine logs, Leveque said.

Baldino said BP expects to use the new program “for the foreseeable future.” BP, however, is also in the process of selling its entire Alaska business to Hilcorp and exiting the state. The company has said it plans to close the deal by the end of next month.

Leveque said he hopes other companies, big and small, can adapt the online program to monitor for illness as the pandemic continues.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.

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