To share and demonstrate the incremental safety measures Perdue Farms has implemented to protect associates from COVID-19 beginning in early March, the company hosted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for meetings and tours of Perdue’s poultry processing facility in Accomac, Virginia.
Following these tours, the CDC shared a memo summarizing its visit and highlighting best practices that Perdue had already implemented, including:
Health and safety:
· Temperature checking, providing disposable masks and reusable face shields, and symptoms screening as a requirement to enter the facility;
· Social distancing where possible, such as restrooms, break rooms, locker rooms, the cafeteria, and offices;
· Installation of partitions where adequate social distancing is not possible, such as on some production lines;
· Turning off fans that circulated air across multiple associates;
· Staggering shifts and break times to reduce workers gathering in areas such as parking areas and locker rooms;
· Using directional floor tape to encourage one-way foot traffic;
· Waiving the 5-day waiting period for short-term disability for associates who miss work due to confirmed or presumptive positive COVID-19, or who are under quarantine;
· And effectively utilizing the facility’s onsite free-of-charge Wellness Center.
Extensive cleaning measures:
· Use of hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the facility;
· Automatic-faucet sinks in the bathrooms for hand washing;
· Contracted janitorial staff frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in addition to the full-shift sanitation that occurs every 24 hours; facility management implemented an auditing system to inspect and record that the additional sanitation occurred;
· The cafeteria is shut down for 30 minutes once per day for additional disinfection;
· And entrance/exit doors are propped open to reduce workers needing to touch door handles.
Associate and community education:
· Translating informational and educational materials into primary languages spoken among the workforce;
· Displaying educational posters in the three languages encouraging workers to conduct hand hygiene before and after riding in a vehicle, exercise social distancing where possible, and to stay home if they feel ill; providing instructions on how to safely carpool; and requiring carpoolers to wear face coverings in a vehicle with three or more passengers;
· Additional written communication topics include how COVID-19 spreads, its symptoms, and ways to prevent infection;
· Rotating video messages reminding workers to sanitize hands, wear face masks properly, and maintain physical distance at work and at home;
· Distributing relevant discussion points at least weekly for supervisors to use to educate workers on COVID-19 topics, including how workers can protect themselves from COVID-19 at work and at home, encouraging workers to stay home and follow up with a provider when ill, notification of steps and controls implemented to protect workers, and encouraging workers to get the flu vaccine at the Wellness Center, as well as administrative topics such as wage continuation if the plant shuts down, extended hours of the Wellness Center, and contacting management with any childcare issues;
· And hosting virtual Town Hall-style webinars at locations where Perdue has production operations, including Accomac, to further facilitate an ongoing dialogue regarding COVID-19 with various local community leaders, including pastors, healthcare professionals, elected officials, civic organizations, and more, to help reinforce the importance of social distancing, face covering use, and handwashing, as well as to educate about signs, symptoms, and disease transmission at home and in the community when away from work.
“We are a tight-knit community here at our Accomac facility, and Perdue continues to put our people first,” said Sam Rascona, director of operations at Perdue Farms’ Accomac, Virginia facility. “We responded swiftly and thoroughly to the threat of COVID-19 to protect our associates, whose safety remains our top priority.”
Suggestions provided by the CDC to “help ensure existing controls are as effective as possible” at Perdue’s Accomac facility include:
· Continuing the established efforts, such as screening workers for COVID-19 symptoms, including temperature checks; providing ongoing training to management and associates on infection control; frequent review of policies to encourage proper decision making regarding reporting to work; use of modified workstations so that workers are at least six feet apart, and use of dividers and PPE where this is not possible; and promoting single-file, uni-directional movement through the plant;
· Consulting with maintenance staff or a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning engineer to ensure adequate ventilation in production areas to minimize air from fans blowing from one worker directly at another worker;
· Considering replacement of current timeclocks with touch-free timeclocks and current pump-dispensed hand sanitizers with touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers;
· Considering assignment of groups to the same shifts with the same coworkers (“cohorting”), which helps minimize the number of different individuals who come into close contact with each other over the course of a week;
· Including production workers, in addition to management, on the COVID-19 coordination committee to help determine communication gaps and implement the provided recommendations;
· Discouraging carpooling or use of public transportation when possible, and provide guidance on how to minimize risk when carpooling or public transportation is necessary;
· Providing a covered area for workers to line up prior to screening and in the walkways leading up to the plant to discourage congregating during inclement weather;
· And continuing to instruct any worker who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to stay home from work.
In addition to Accomac, Perdue hosted the CDC at its Salisbury, Maryland, as well as its Georgetown and Milford, Delaware facilities, for similar tours. The company previously shared the CDC’s findings following its tours in Salisbury, and will share the reports from Milford and Georgetown when available.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service continues to inspect all Perdue Farms products, which are made with the highest standards of safety and quality, as well as the company’s production facilities, which are fully sanitized every 24 hours at minimum.
For current updates on Perdue Farms’ COVID-19 response, click here.
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