A food supply chain worker wearing a white coat standing in front of various cuts of meat on a table.

Keeping Food Processors Healthy & Productive

Avoid closures as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise

 

Whether you are responsible for a food processing plant, work elsewhere in the supply chain or are considering what to make for dinner, the food supply chain affects all of our day-to-day lives. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it’s critical to minimize its effect on this “critical infrastructure industry".

Concerns about the food supply chain aren’t unexpected. Earlier this year, three Canadian meat packing plants making up 75% of Canada’s beef supply experienced COVID-19 outbreaks. A key reason cited for these outbreaks was the nature of work in these plants, as workers work side-by-side for long periods of time.

We’ve compiled best practices to help employees and employers in food processing facilities to stay healthy, safe and productive:

 

Steps Your Employees Can Take

Individual workers can take action to help protect themselves and their teammates from COVID-19. Communication is key – ensure employees follow good hygiene practices and know that they should:

  • Wash or sanitize hands often.
  • Sneeze and cough into their sleeve. If using a tissue, discard immediately and wash hands afterward.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if they are not feeling well.
  • Avoid high-touch areas, where possible, or ensure hands are cleaned afterwards.
  • Wear gloves when interacting with high-touch areas, when possible
  • Avoid touching their face with gloved hands.
  • Remove gloves properly, dispose of safely and wash hands afterwards.
  • Wash clothes on arrival at home.
  • If ill, notify their supervisor immediately, complete a self-assessment and follow instructions.

 

Read more about steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 here.

  

Steps Employers Can Take

Minimizing threats in facilities helps to stop the spread of COVID-19. The following steps are vital to keep help keep employees, and your facility, healthy and safe:

 

Educate Employees

Communicate with employees regularly about good hygiene practices and safety measure in place to protect them. Keep the lines of communication open and ensure all workers know who to contact to discuss COVID-19 concerns.

 

Physical Adjustments

Make adjustments to your workspace to facilitate social distancing.  Move workstations at least six feet apart to minimize employee contact. If this is not possible, consider installing barriers between workers or ensure workers are wearing face masks.

Other changes to consider include setting up multiple hand washing and sanitizing stations and adding additional clock in/out stations to limit employee contact.

 

Shift Variations

Stagger employee start and break times to avoid groups in common spaces and encourage workers to social distance during their breaks. Request that workers do not carpool to and from work and walk in a single-file around the facility if possible.

 

Information Sharing

Knowledge and awareness of healthy workplace practices is the best way to inform safe choices. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, proper handwashing practices, cough and sneeze etiquette and how to properly don masks or PPE.

Click here to download our Healthy Workplace Communications Kit for free posters and resources that promote healthy workplace practices.

 

Prioritize Cleaning and Disinfecting

Ramp up cleaning and disinfecting by designing an enhanced cleaning protocol. Our cleaning and hygiene experts can assist with a facility assessment and recommend processes, products and innovative technologies such as electrostatic disinfecting and automated cleaning equipment to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Contact us for expert advice and support.

 

Read more about steps you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19 in your facility here.