Chicken processors redoubling efforts to keep essential workers safe

“These are certainly trying and unprecedented times, and chicken processors are doing everything they can to 1) keep their employees safe and 2) work to keep chicken on the shelves - in that order,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown.
calendar icon 21 April 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

“Our members are following all of the CDC and local health department guidelines, and many have consulted with infectious disease physicians to develop site plans.”

Brown noted that companies have enacted many additional measures to keep workers safe, including:

  • Increasing cleaning, sanitation and fogging frequencies and intensities for equipment and common areas at processing facilities. It is sanitation on steroids right now
  • Increased frequency of hand washing/sanitation for employees
  • Encouraging employees to stay home if they are not feeling well or believe they may have been exposed to the virus, while still receiving pay and no attendance penalty
  • Heightened employee screening for any signs of illness, including temperature checks before entering the plant
  • Practicing social distancing not only in common areas, such as break rooms and cafeterias, but also on production lines where possible, including but not limited to:
  • Staggered breaks; staggered start/stop times of shifts; creating additional break areas including outdoor areas; installing plastic dividers between workstations; and increasing the space between workers on the production floor
  • Implementing travel restrictions and only allowing essential personnel into the plant
  • Educating employees about the virus and ways to avoid catching it
  • Treating worker safety as a non-competitive issue and sharing best practices
  • Company nurses have been trained on CDC protocols for COVID-19. Any employees expressing symptoms are sent immediately to the nurse
  • Each company policy is different, but companies are offering paid sick leave, bonus/hazard pay, free chicken for employees, waiving the waiting period for short term disability, making PTO policies more flexible, and many other ways to show appreciation for those workers who are helping to support an entire nation right now

“Since the US government has deemed food manufacturing as critical infrastructure, we treat very seriously our responsibly to keep workers safe while providing protein for families,” Brown added. “The essential critical industries working to care for, feed, and protect Americans are selflessly serving the nation by showing up to work during this time of crisis. While the work of our public health professionals, first responders, and public safety employees is unquestioned, we must also adequately recognize the service of food industry workers who protect our food security. NCC is urging Congress to support food industry workers in any aid package that might be considered when Congress returns in late April.”

Read about how the chicken industry is giving back to their local communities and what companies are offering as incentives for essential frontline workers. NCC is also maintaining a COVID-19 resource page.

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