In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have released new safety guidelines for feed mills, including human and animal food operations. Feed mills are considered essential businesses, but companies must adhere to these feed mill safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff and the general public. Here is a brief rundown of what these guidelines mean for your operations.
Develop a COVID-19 Assessment and Control Plan
Every facility should create a feed mill COVID-19 control plan for limiting the spread of the virus. This includes monitoring the health and safety of staff, testing workers regularly for the disease, designating a single point of contact for answering questions and reporting cases, and establishing quarantine or recall protocols for potential outbreaks. Facilities should have these plans in place before resuming the production process.
Adhere to the Latest Safety Guidelines
The control plan should include the latest safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), such as having employees practice social distancing by standing at least six feet apart at all times, wearing face masks when indoors, increasing ventilation in the workplace, regularly disinfecting surfaces, and limiting access to the facility whenever possible.
Provide Essential PPE
All staff members should have access to the required personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, shields, hazmat suits, and gloves, based on their role and function. This is in addition to traditional feed mill safety equipment, such as hard hats, gloves, and goggles. Make sure employees can wear additional PPE on top of, or under, their regular uniforms.
Coordinate with State and Local Health Officials
It is every company’s responsibility to coordinate with state and local health officials. As the pandemic lingers, this information will likely change. Facilities should update their control plans regularly as new information comes to light. If an outbreak should occur, the company should report these findings to the local authorities. Companies should also request this information from state and local health officials, so they can better protect their employees if a local outbreak should occur.
Every facility is only as good as its employees. Managers and owners need to communicate these policies and changes effectively to those on the ground. Workers will likely be concerned with the health and safety of their loved ones. Give workers as much advance notice as possible if the company needs to change their hours or work schedules, or if the facility needs to close.
The spread of COVID-19 and animal feed can be overwhelming for some companies. Owners and managers should keep this information in mind when designing a new facility or hiring a feed mill construction company. Contact Halverson Company for more information.