Lighting Technician Balbino Mercadel is one of the many on-site workers who is keeping the Lab in a safe and stable condition while Lab employees shelter-in-place.
Balbino found his way into lighting and light technology in the U.S. Navy. Following his dad, who was also a Navy veteran, he worked top-side until he experienced sea-sickness when the ship zig-zagged in open water. After a few episodes, his commanding officer re-assigned him below-decks, where he learned about electricity and lighting.
Balbino’s current workdays are similar to those before the curtailed operations. His work orders are now for essential electrical work at the Lab. In Building 50-B, he’s working in the computer room with IT to help keep all the teleworkers connected.
Mike Lee, Balbino’s supervisor, said there is increased attention to safety protocols during the shelter-in-place order. “We follow the rules on social distancing, disinfect vehicles and tools at the beginning and end of each shift, and stagger shift hours. This is in addition to normal safety controls such as Lock-out, Tag-out of energized electrical hazards, slip and fall protection, and ladder safety.”
In his off-hours, Balbino enjoys the Filipino stick fighting art of Arnis, which he began as a youngster in Davao City in his native Philippines. Balbino has been studying with Rey Viray, a Facilities Custodian on swing shift, in the Lab’s Filipino Martial Arts Club. Unfortunately, with physical distancing, they have paused their sessions.
Balbino says the reduced personnel on site has made it easier to get around the Lab due to empty hallways and parking lots. When asked what he is looking forward to when things return to normal, his face lit up. “I bring light to the world! It makes people happy.”