Media Release Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC

MEDIA RELEASE | Keeping essential manufacturing and food processing workers safe is key to maintaining the supply chain in British Columbia

CHILLIWACK, BC– Across the province, manufacturers and food processors are taking action to protect their employees and operations from the impacts of COVID-19. They are working to maintain our supply chain and ensure British Columbians have access to vital food and goods. 

The risk to food availability is in the spotlight with the recent outbreaks in four Lower Mainland poultry processing facilities.  

“We have been continuously impressed by the efforts some members have taken to reduce the risk of exposure in their production facilities and ensure business continuity as they ramp up to protect the integrity of our supply chain,” said Lisa McGuire, Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC CEO. “Through incidents like these, Canadians are gaining a new understanding of the importance of the essential manufacturing sector—and of the critical role of health and safety in a sustainable supply chain.” 

“Many industries continue to face challenges when it comes to addressing the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace, as we’ve seen from the recent outbreaks in poultry processing facilities. The Alliance is actively working with companies to strengthen their controls in light of these events,” adds McGuire. 

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance safety advisors are working directly with manufacturers and food processors to help them implement the most effective controls to address the specific health and safety risks to protect workers. 

Production facilities face unique challenges in relation to the current health recommendations restricting gatherings of more than 50 people in one place and maintaining physical distancing between workers. They have adapted production lines where possible to increase the space between workstations or add physical barriers. In addition, operators have adjusted schedules to stagger shifts and limit the number of employees on a shift. 

Most manufacturers and food processors have restricted access, excluding outside visitors from the plants. Some are adding new personal protective equipment where close work is still required. Other adaptations include increasing handwashing stations, closing or restricting access to lunchrooms and other social spaces, additional sanitization, training, signage, and frequent communication with employees. 

“These efforts to keep workers safe are a critical factor to keep essential businesses running,” McGuire adds. 

“Every day we are seeing amazing examples of manufacturers rising to the challenge of this virus in British Columbia,” notes Wayne Arondus, COO of the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. “Some manufacturers are pivoting production lines altogether to meet the need for high-demand items such as hand sanitizer, while others are working collaboratively to solve the unique safety issues for employees created by COVID-19.” 

The health and safety advisors and specialists at the Alliance are on call to help manufacturers and food processors keep workers safe through the pandemic, with an OHS Support Line (604-795-9595) for customized support. Advisors are supporting businesses across the province via phone and video consultations. In addition, the Alliance has developed a comprehensive COVID-19 web resource (safetyalliancebc.ca/covid-19), including an ongoing webinar series addressing key COVID-19 topics for manufacturers and food processors. 

“We are committed to adapting our services to meet the safety needs of the manufacturing sector,” McGuire adds, “It’s critical for BC’s manufacturers and food processors to know they have the support of our safety experts to help them maintain essential operations.” 

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Backgrounder

Learn more about the resources and supports that the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC has developed for BC manufacturers and food processors to support them through COVID-19.

For media inquiries and images please contact:

Lisa Thibault, Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC
604.991.7423 |  l.thibault@safetyalliancebc.ca