Central Fruit Packers implement extensive COVID-19 plan
28 April 2020
Central Fruit Packers based in Mundubbera have implemented an extensive COVID-19 plan to protect their staff and minimise any risk to their business.
Operation Manager Matt Wardell began a review and started implementing changes on March 17 and will leave the changes in place for the entire season.
Central Fruit Packers employs 48 staff and are currently packing up to 200 bins a day, with this amount doubling at the peak of the season.
The plan involves:
Meeting Government social isolation requirements in all areas both inside and outside the facility
Ensuring effective cleaning and sanitation
Grouping workers together
90% of labour is employed through Agri Labour, which Matt said is also implementing high standards. He was initially talking daily with Agri Labour and now they meet weekly.
Staff are told to meet certain requirements at home, including:
Social distancing at home
Using sanitiser provided by Central Fruit Packers
No travel outside Mundubbera
To ensure social distancing, orange dots have been painted 1.5 metres apart throughout the facility, and on the pathways outside.
Dots outside are to ensure social distancing requirements are met as staff wait to sign in. Sanitiser is provided near the finger scanner.
Other changes implemented include:
Three additional areas for smoko rooms, which required purchase of tables, chairs, fridges and additional water stations
Smoko rooms are 20 metres apart
Former storage rooms became smoko rooms
Dots placed under chairs. Chairs are not to be moved
Employees 1-12 use smoko room 1 for entire season; employees 13-24 use smoko room 2 etc
11 sanitisers around facility
Additional signage to wash hands
Regular staff meetings to inform and update staff
All contractors entering facility have temperature checked
Staff stand 1.5m apart throughout the facility except for the volume filler, so additional risk management and traceability measures have been implemented for this section, and these were approved by Queensland Health when it conducted a site visit.
Staff that work across from each other on the volume filler also sit in the same smoko area.
Any floaters that enter this area must be 1.5m apart from other staff.
On the packing line, staff packing on line 3 are 1.2m apart from those packing on line 2, but this is not a problem because they do not face each other.
A supervisor now spends 50% of their time documenting, ensuring social distancing is being applied, sanitisers are filled, and that all cleaning has been completed. For example, they must document every 30 minutes that volume fillers have been cleaned.
Two additional full-time cleaners have been employed to sanitise all day. Tasks include:
Sanitising hand railings and smoko rooms in between every break
Cleaning packing lines
Cleaning volume fillers every 10 minutes
From March 17 to first week of April, it took up 50% of Matt’s time and that of other staff every day.
“These changes have been a big task, and it adds a lot of pressure, making sure everything is ticked off every day,” Matt said.
“We continue to build the processes as we go. Walking around, you think what can I do and what’s feasible.
“Some other sheds have put dividers in packing lines. We couldn’t do that.
“That’s why we have strict documentation processes. If a staff member is confined, the person next door will be moved into isolation or on a 14-day watch list.
“We are also tracking additional costs in a separate budget, including the cleaners, the extra equipment for the smoko rooms, the sanitiser and signage, among other things.”
Matt said Queensland Health approved all changes. Their initial focus was ensuring:
Social distancing in smoko rooms and clocking in
Matt has welcomed any packers who’d like to inspect the facility and discuss the policies to make an appointment.
Central Fruit Packer Operation Manager Matt Wardell
Painted dots 1.5m apart outside the facility to help staff adhere to social distancing rules while waiting to clock on.
Reminder for all employees to sanitise and maintain social distancing.
Painted dots show staff where to stand.
Painted dots throughout the facility help staff maintain social distancing requirements.
New smoko rooms were created and employees must use the same area throughout the season.
Painted dots show staff where to stand.
Staff receive visual reminders and regular briefings.
11 sanitisers have been placed around the facility and are constantly re-filled.