What did we learn?
Throughout our COVID Conversation Series, we have appreciated the sharing of lessons learned and tips within our safety, health and well-being community. This week’s discussion with Dave McNiel, Safety Manager for Foster Farms, continued that flow of pertinent information. As always, if you missed it, you can catch up on our Oregon Healthy Workforce Center YouTube Channel, or as embedded at the end of this blog.
Dave shared with us the challenges faced by his organization in reducing coronavirus exposure risk during processing activities that rely on close contact and product handling. Here is a recap of some of the points that were shared:
- Having a plan was of utmost importance to Foster Farm’s facilities as the coronavirus appeared in the Pacific Northwest. Dave discussed with us how previous planning he had done as part of a course addressing Infection Prevention and Control on Animal Farms Protecting Worker Health, presented jointly by University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Occupational Safety and Health, The Center for One Health Research, and Harborview Medical Center helped prepared Dave and his teams to develop a specific plan to address COVID-19 infection concerns. The Center for One Health Research has made some of these resources available online. (Incidentally, we are quite pleased to have One Health Research Center Director, Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, speak about infectious disease at our May 21, 2021 symposium on Climate change and worker health, safety and well-being.)
- Dave used the term “evergreen” to remind us how, particularly during fast-moving safety and health issues, we need to be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions. Here are a few other tips he offered regarding development of safety and health plans:
- Ensure your management team works together with worker (hourly)/safety team in developing solutions.
- Create one point of communication with outside contacts and agencies to ensure clarity and discourage confusion.
- Identify and maintain strong communication “highways” in all directions.
- We also learned about Foster Farm facilities’ successes in teaming with county health departments to provide onsite vaccines to their workforce.
- Finally, Dave also talked about the impact of the pandemic on his workforce, and including employees who were fearful of returning to work because of infection concerns.
We thank Dave McNiel and all of our series speakers for sharing their knowledge and experience.
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Tues., May 11, 2021: COVID Convo #7: TBA (register now)
Tues., May 25, 2021: COVID Convo #8: Public facing workplaces: what about restaurants?
Lisa Kinsley, Human Resources, McMenamins pubs, breweries and hotels. (register now)
Tues., June 8, 2021: COVID Convo #9: TBA (register now)
Tues., June 22, 2021: COVID Convo #10: What about high tech?
Georgia Latham, MS, RN, CCM, LNC, COHN-s, Occupational Health Resources Manager, North America, ON Semiconductor (register now)
Watch COVID Convo #6: What about Poultry Processing?