Are you wondering how to best protect the staff in your food manufacturing plant from COVID-19? We let you in on recommended protective measures. They include…
It has already been established that the best way to cut down the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and limit its community spread is for everyone to follow social distancing regulations, maintain high personal standards and adhere to other rules set by health authorities. This not only applies to individuals but also businesses in almost every industry. As an employer, one of your prime duties right now is to focus on the health and safety of your workers, and every other person at your workplace. That begins by following the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation; Safe Work Australia has also provided further guidelines for those in the food processing and manufacturing industry on how to protect their employees. You can download the copy from their official website. In this article, we will go through some recommended best practices for protecting your employees during this pandemic
1. Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
In food manufacturing, interactions are unavoidable. Your employees are likely to mingle and interact a lot during their shifts. To keep them safe, ensure they all have adequate and recommended PPE equipment whenever they are on duty. Supply them with recommended gloves, face masks, goggles, face shields, gowns and boot covers. WHO recommends that workers in such environments should wear respirator masks such as N95, FFP2, FFP3 to eliminate the risk of inhaling contaminated droplets. Make sure the PPEs are enough for everyone to avoid sharing. Also, ensure that your employees know how to use the PPEs properly since wrong use could put them at risk.
2. Invest In Education and Awareness Campaigns
Your employees probably know about the pandemic from news and hearsay. But don’t assume they all know how bad it can get or what should be done to prevent spread. It is your responsibility to educate them about the virus by providing the right information to them as well as updates from the WHO and local health authorities. Given the social distancing rules in place, you can reach out to them via virtual meetings, short message services and employee engagement platforms.
3. Implement The Social Distancing Rules
Several studies have confirmed that coronavirus can spread between persons through normal breathing and talking. This has been the basis for social distancing rules. For food manufacturing plants, workers are expected to observe the 1.5metre physical distancing rule. If your production environment makes this difficult, consider other measures that can be applied in your workplace to protect employees from the virus. You can also reduce the number of employees working on the same shift or expand the working space. Another equally effective action you can take is to ask those who are not directly involved in food processing to work from home.
4. Regular And Correct Sanitisation
Since the virus at the centre of this pandemic can remain on surfaces even for days, constant sanitisation is mandatory. Remember, your employees are handling food that will soon reach many consumers. You, therefore, have to cover every guideline there is to cleaning and sanitisation. Disinfect and clean all surfaces, from those that are frequently in contact with food to doorknobs, countertops, switches, tap handles, handrails and other high-touch areas. Do this frequently and effectively. You also need to disinfect your workplaces between shifts to minimise the possibility of the infection spreading.
5. Reduce Routine Shift Handovers
Nearly every food production plant depends on routine shift handovers to maintain workflow and meet production targets. If that’s the case with your plant, then you will have to make some harsh drastic changes. Since the handovers are usually marked with person to person interactions, you might have to either do away with them or reduce them. For example, you can have one supervisor hand over the shift to the incoming as this reduces contact.
6. Signage And Precaution
Verbal education may work but to achieve maximum effect, have as many reminders as you can throughout your premises. Design warning signage to remind your employees to observe safe distancing, wash and disinfect their hands, stay at home when feeling sick and also how to sneeze and cough. These posters should be distributed everywhere and your supervisor should ensure that employees adhere to them. Don’t forget to provide adequate handwashing stations or alcohol-based sanitisers. Make sure they are within reach for everyone.
In summary, as the government authorities continues to help stop the spread, you have a part to play in limiting the spread. The measures above are some of the important precautions you should take to protect your employees. To remain ahead of the game in keeping employee’s safe, be on the lookout for any updates from local authorities in regard to controlling the spread of COVID-19