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Abattoirs and the meat processing industry

We’ve developed this guidance for abattoirs and the meat processing industry to help create and maintain a safe environment for your staff, customers and community.

Helping business get back to work

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.

COVID-19 Safety Plan

NSW Health, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and SafeWork NSW have identified and endorsed the Victorian checklist for Managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure: meat and poultry processing.

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.

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 NSW Health letter to plant operators provide more detail about how business can prepare for and prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.

Last updated: 24 July 2020

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