Local food manufacturers step up safety precautions

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Tyson Foods employees wearing additional personal protective equipment and having their work areas shielded by plastic as a new layer of protection for employees working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributed photo

Corporate spokesmen detail steps at Tyson, Schreiber Foods

Reports of problems from COVID-19 (coronavirus) impacting food production plants in other parts of the country have brought additional attention to workers required to labor in close quarters.

Tyson Foods and Schreiber Foods report extra precautions have been taken to keep both employees and products safe during the pandemic.

Dividers and shields are now in place on production lines at Tyson Foods plants like Monett to shield workers from potential exposure to transmissible viruses like COVID-19. Workers also wear personal protective equipment such as face masks that may not have been commonplace before the pandemic. Contributed photo

According to Morgan Watchous, communications manager for Tyson Foods, workplace safety efforts are “significant” and are being strictly enforced in all the company’s locations.

“We’re implementing social distancing in our plants based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and industry guidance, such as increasing the distance between workers on the production floor, installing workstation dividers and barriers in our break-rooms,” Watchous said. “We’ve been evaluating and implementing ways to promote more social distancing in our plants. For example, at some locations we’re:

• Allowing more time between shifts to reduce worker interaction.

• Giving team members more space by erecting large tents to serve as outdoor break rooms.

• Removing chairs in some break rooms so there is more space between the workers.

• Eliminating conference room meetings and the size of new orientation classes.”

In addition, Watchous said extra effort is being made to sanitize production areas daily. Deep cleaning and sanitizing facilities have increased, especially in employee break rooms, locker rooms and other staff-used areas to further help keep workers protected.

“As an added precaution, we may sometimes suspend a day of production to complete an additional deep clean of facilities,” Watchous said.

Extra precautions have also been taken at the Schreiber Foods plant in Monett.

“The health and safety of our employees is always our top priority, and that hasn’t changed during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andrew Tobisch, director of communications for Schreiber Foods. “In addition to our already strict food safety and good manufacturing practices (GMPs), we’ve put many new processes in place to help protect everybody. We’re cleaning and sanitizing more often. We’re stressing the importance of personal hygiene and following our GMPs. We’re helping our partners distance themselves. We’ve put travel restrictions in place and are limiting the flow of people through our facilities.

“These are just some of the things we’ve been doing, and we’ll continue to proactively take steps to help promote the safety of our employees and people in our communities.”

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