As much of the country moves towards complete reopening, employers are preparing their workplaces in various ways to comply with strict conditions. Working in the food and beverage production industry means being hyper-aware of health and safety measures at all times, but those sentiments have inevitably been exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Even though many food and beverage manufacturing operations have resumed over the past several weeks, the threat of infection has not completely gone away. Moving forward, teams need to take special care to ensure the safety of their staff as well as their customers, in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act as well as developing COVID-19-specific regulations.
Here are some health and safety best practices for food and beverage manufacturing employees in a post-COVID world.
Increased Sanitation and Hygiene Measures
There is no such thing as ‘too careful’. Especially in an industry like food manufacturing, the products of which have the potential to reach millions of people, extreme sanitation efforts need to be taken in order to keep everyone safe. In addition to frequent cleaning of machinery, equipment and commonly touched surfaces, employees should be provided handwashing and sanitation stations and encouraged to use them before, during and after shifts.
If your staff do not wear uniforms, employees should have ‘indoor and outdoor’ clothes to avoid bringing in potential germs from outside, and all employees should be wearing personal protective equipment such as face masks and shields if they don’t already.
Accessible Protocol Materials
Even though COVID-19 and all that has come along with it has been at the forefront of everyone’s lives for the past few months, employers can’t assume that everyone will automatically know how to act once they return to work. Ensuring that all employees are well versed in the new health and safety protocols and are prepared to perform them is instrumental in the success of your operation. Only once everyone is on the same page and is equipped with the necessary information can employers expect things to run smoothly.
Employers can host workshops, send out health and safety materials via email or phone and post communication materials surrounding new policies around the workplace. These materials can and should include information on how to ensure physical distancing, how to report illnesses and how work will be scheduled, to name a few.
Adjusting Production Schedules
Where possible, some practices may need to be amended in order to comply with physical distancing regulations and stricter quality control processes. As many people begin to return to their workplaces such as offices, some common practices that have been implemented are staggering shift times and limiting the number of employees in a given workplace at one time. This can make compliance with post-COVID-19 recommendations much easier and can be applied to a manufacturing setting as well.
It is also recommended that managers postpone projects and tasks that don’t have high urgency, leaving more time for essential operations. Managers can take comfort in the fact that there is an air of compassion in the era of COVID-19; if production takes a little bit longer due to taking the necessary safety precautions, people will understand.
For the next little while, it will likely become common practice that employees who are feeling under the weather in any capacity should refrain from coming to work. Even if the sickness in question isn’t COVID-19, infecting other people at work with any illness can potentially weaken their immune system, leaving them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. Employees should be asked to monitor their health closely and make note of any changes.
In the event that someone at your workplace does contract the virus, it is indisputable that employers must report the case to the government and halt all production until the site is deemed sanitary again. While it may be a pain, at the end of the day, our health and safety is all we have.
Are you looking to add some food and beverage manufacturing talent to your operation? The recruiters at Next Level Group are experts in the field and would be happy to lend a hand in building your dream team. Contact us today to get started!