The meat processing sector has been identified as representing a high risk for the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.
There have been large outbreaks in abattoirs and meat processing facilities across the world. In Australia, Cedar Meats in Melbourne was closed for six weeks because of an outbreak among its workers and their contacts.
These workplaces are vulnerable for a number of reasons:
- working on production lines in close proximity to others
- tally driven work tempo which limits hygiene measures
- temperature and humidity
- high workforce turnover.
Guidelines - Managing the risk of COVID-19 exposure: abattoirs and meat processing industry
Employers must identify hazards and assess the level of risk to the health of employees from exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) at their workplace. This must be done in consultation with health and safety representatives, if any, and employees, so far as is reasonably practicable.
These guideline - Managing the risk of COVID-19 exposure: abattoirs and meat processing industry - is a tool to assist premises when completing your COVID-19 Safety Plans. It provides information on the risks, responsibilities and controls for consideration when taking into account the local environment.
Incident Action Plan (IAP)
NSW Health in consultation with SafeWork NSW and the NSW Department of Primary Industries has developed an Incident Action Plan (IAP) for the meat processing industry to raise preparedness in the event of an outbreak.
It is important that meat processing facilities are at a high state of preparedness to implement the Incident Action Plan should an outbreak occur. It is recommended that each plant consider rehearsing implementation of the IAP, and also deal with any business continuity issues that arise.
The Incident Action Plan and Guideline provide more detail about how business can prepare for and prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.