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covid-19 work from home food safety personnel safety

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#1 arahman

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 01:26 PM

Hello Everyone,

 

Want to start off by saying hope everyone is staying safe and practices social distancing to the best of their abilities.

 

Professionally I have not come across anything like Covid-19 in my 7 years as QA. Our office staff has been reduced to 1/3 of the workforce while the rest will be working from home.

We have three warehouses and I am the QA manager for all three. Work has been turned to a very lean structure and there is to be absolutely no interaction between each of the warehouses and its work force.

 

I will be doing a Risk assessment on how this may impact food safety and maintaining supply chain with minimal work force.

Has anyone else started to do this? I am afraid, food safety might take the back seat now and I personally would not be allowed to visit two other warehouses. I moved my stuff in from the office to the main warehouse to have oversight over one at least.

 

What others risks could there be in terms of food safety and how do I go about enforcing food safety in these times?

 

Any help or suggestions will be highly appreciated!

 

Thank you

 

Anika



#2 AC2018

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 02:01 PM

It's business as usual here. I don't really see anything additional that needs to be done other than continuing to follow all of our programs and procedures, especially GMP's. I have noticed some customers have canceled their visits to our facility but we have not been the ones telling people not to visit.

 

I would say just take proper precautions and talk to your staff about expectations. Remind them to wash their hands, change gloves, stay home if sick, etc. The only additional thing we are doing is sanitizing the break room and bathroom areas after each break and lunch. We are also telling our shipping/receiving personnel to take extra precautions when dealing with drivers. 



#3 pHruit

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 02:25 PM

I will be doing a Risk assessment on how this may impact food safety and maintaining supply chain with minimal work force.

Has anyone else started to do this? I am afraid, food safety might take the back seat now and I personally would not be allowed to visit two other warehouses. I moved my stuff in from the office to the main warehouse to have oversight over one at least.

 

What others risks could there be in terms of food safety and how do I go about enforcing food safety in these times?

My main concern at present is the one to which you've already alluded - if we're running with very few staff and still being pressured to get things out of the door then it's a prime opportunity for people to start getting bad ideas about corners being cut.

I've already flagged this to senior managers in other departments and have agreement that if (when?) staff numbers start getting low there will be no expectation that output will remain at the normal rate, so in conjunction with the production manager we can emphasise that we're still focussed on taking the time to do it right, rather than madly trying to rush through 100% of normal throughput with 50% of the staff, and doing a poor job.



#4 SQFconsultant

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 02:47 PM

We are back to business as normal here - this whole fake CV thing has really become quite the monster it was intended to become. Program people for years, disguise the really big elephant in the corner with an overlay of a virus and get the entire earths agencies, governments to push it forward for acceptance by those that have been programmed/conditioned by communications (TV etc) to go into a complete fear based panic and begin doing runs on the stores for toilet paper and hand-sanitizer and while everybody is distracted something else completely and uterly unbelievable is going on - and that will be phase 2 of the program.

 

We bought into the hype and actually began putting together and even launching a plan for our clients and then after a lot more research and actually putting in my simple mind 2 + 2 actually does equal 4 the lightbulb went off.

 

The past several weeks have really gotten us distracted and created delays in our own work and the work of our fellow network consultants - now however that I have seen the bigger picture all I want to do now is get back to work and help companies get SQF certified so they can get more business or keep business.


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#5 arahman

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 03:18 PM

My main concern at present is the one to which you've already alluded - if we're running with very few staff and still being pressured to get things out of the door then it's a prime opportunity for people to start getting bad ideas about corners being cut.

I've already flagged this to senior managers in other departments and have agreement that if (when?) staff numbers start getting low there will be no expectation that output will remain at the normal rate, so in conjunction with the production manager we can emphasise that we're still focussed on taking the time to do it right, rather than madly trying to rush through 100% of normal throughput with 50% of the staff, and doing a poor job.

Thanks phruit.

 

That is what I would like senior managers to adopt as well. Do it slowly even if its means less quantity out the door. Here in Canada we are more vigilant than our neighbour to the south and our Government and top health officials havetold to flatten the curve and I am actually happy companies across the board has adopted the policy to work from home when the option is available.

 

AT the end of the day we are all in on this together and and health comes before profit.

 

Have you done a risk assessment yet in combination to a business continuity plan?



#6 arahman

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 03:24 PM

It's business as usual here. I don't really see anything additional that needs to be done other than continuing to follow all of our programs and procedures, especially GMP's. I have noticed some customers have canceled their visits to our facility but we have not been the ones telling people not to visit.

 

I would say just take proper precautions and talk to your staff about expectations. Remind them to wash their hands, change gloves, stay home if sick, etc. The only additional thing we are doing is sanitizing the break room and bathroom areas after each break and lunch. We are also telling our shipping/receiving personnel to take extra precautions when dealing with drivers. 

Thanks AC2018. In Canada we have been urged for social distancing as much as feasibly possible and I am happy the government and our health officials and even the private industries are taking actions.

 

It is safety first above everything else IMO. Have you or will you be carrying out a risk assessment in combination with your business continuity plan though?

We have completely segregated the offices from the warehouses, we have stop staggered shifts in all the warehouses and have designated staff per warehouse as mitigation factors



#7 AC2018

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 04:06 PM

Thanks AC2018. In Canada we have been urged for social distancing as much as feasibly possible and I am happy the government and our health officials and even the private industries are taking actions.

 

It is safety first above everything else IMO. Have you or will you be carrying out a risk assessment in combination with your business continuity plan though?

We have completely segregated the offices from the warehouses, we have stop staggered shifts in all the warehouses and have designated staff per warehouse as mitigation factors

 

Agreed and we are being urged to do the same in the state that I am in. We only have about 50 cases so far but they seem to be taking action much sooner than others have which we are grateful for. 

 

We are going to be testing our business continuity plan this week and you may have guessed that we will be using an outbreak to walk through each step to discuss. I was not originally planning on carrying out a risk assessment (yet) but that may change as there are new developments each and every day. 



#8 majoy

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 04:17 PM

At this point, we can't really do anything more than just to ensure proper GMP, hand washing and health screening is carried out by and to our employees who are still able to work.

 

There is no evidence "yet" that the virus is transmissible through food, so that's good for us.

 

The biggest concern now is how to mitigate cutting corners by employees and management to prevent further issues in the chain.

For example, substitution of raw materials, since supply is the biggest challenge - if your supplier is not able to deliver, you should already have a back up supplier approved based on your supplier approval, or your management should be able to delay production until the RM becomes available.


"Whatever you do, do it well..." - Walt Disney


#9 arahman

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 05:04 PM

Hi Majoy,

 

Yes. Supply chain is what would be affected first thing and not even sure yet how long to aim for. Possibly end of year. Good thing you mentioned alternate suppliers/vendors. 

You are right. No evidence so far on transmission through food. More so on the supply chain/personnel availability factors.

Sanitation of equipment might be affected due to lack of personnel.

We have postponed Training and internal audits.



#10 The Food Scientist

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 06:05 PM

There isn't really much to do. It is more of a Employee health/safety issue more than it is a food safety. Although we will experience supply chain shortages and delays. If this were a virus that can contaminate food, non of us will be working and all manufacturers and food service establishments would be shut-down immediately. I guess the usual GMPs with more enforcement and do daily monitoring of all your employees and make sure nobody works when they are sick. We are purchasing a thermometer where we can take employee temperatures this week. (During normal conditions we already do all those preventive measures anyway lol). We also paused hiring until further notice and no visitors allowed except 3rd party contractors (pest control,sanitation...etc).

 

We all should have backup anyway due to crisis as I am sure many of you have a Crisis Management plan. 


Edited by The Food Scientist, 16 March 2020 - 06:08 PM.

Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


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#11 zanorias

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 06:31 PM

Hello Anika,

 

Do you have Technical staff based in the other facilities? Or CCTV that you could utilise to observe somewhat.

Hygiene inside production facilities is already relatively high, so most of the changes in my place are based on lowering the risk outside production - sanitising hands and handles around office staff, home working where feasible i.e. NPD/branding, and staggering production breaks - I imagine if there is any infecting through staff it will likely be during breaks when hand washing, hygiene and face touching are not habitually enforced.



#12 arahman

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 06:49 PM

Hi Zanorias,

 

No unfortunately not for the other two sites. We had one Quality designate in the main warehouse who is already over 65years and has immunodeficient issues so he has been asked to work from home and I am taking over his office and planting myself in the warehouse to have QA oversight at the main warehouse. We do have CCTVs but only in areas where there might be security issues.

 

I am preparing a risk assessment for all threes sites and these among others would most likely be my preventive measures: having a quality designate and backup per site, alternate carriers, vendors and suppliers.

 

The company is willing to go through this for now and deal with the outcome later and I can't really blame them. We are looking at the situation day by day in case we need to shut down shifts and/or warehouse and split workforce so that if one fails, the others are operational.

 

Another big thing is working with IT departments to have more work online so if something like this happens again, we won't be scrambling to much.

 

We might be sending a letter to customers for any delay in services/products.

 

Hello Anika,

 

Do you have Technical staff based in the other facilities? Or CCTV that you could utilise to observe somewhat.

Hygiene inside production facilities is already relatively high, so most of the changes in my place are based on lowering the risk outside production - sanitising hands and handles around office staff, home working where feasible i.e. NPD/branding, and staggering production breaks - I imagine if there is any infecting through staff it will likely be during breaks when hand washing, hygiene and face touching are not habitually enforced.



#13 TimG

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 05:37 PM

I have avoided commenting because every work day since Friday our company has come out with new, more stringent guidelines to try to do our part to curtail the COVID-19 spread. At this point I feel a large part of the food safety risk internally is going to come down to employees cutting corners because of staffing issues.

For example, previously Bob and Sue stagger their vacations so they are always on the floor and one of them takes point on all CCP check verification. Bob self quarantined because his daughter is immunocompromised, and Sue is covering her department and 3 other departments because they are also short staffed due to similar self quarantines. Sue has BillytheTemp completing checks for 2 of the CCP's, but his training consisted of a 5 minute crash course.

 

I could keep writing the story but you see where this could go. Also why am I writing stories on ifsqn when I should be out doing my monthly inspection before my company pushes down the home office edict and I'm stuck at home..







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