23 Apr Our #1 Priority: Keeping Chicken Company Employees Safe & Healthy During COVID-19
Although much of America is closed for business, essential employees that help keep us safe, healthy and fed are serving our nation by showing up to work during this time of crisis.
The chicken industry’s employees are among our nation’s essential employees. They are working around the clock to help keep grocery shelves stocked with our nation’s favorite protein: chicken. And for that honorable and essential service, we are grateful.
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.
We commend all the people — in the hatcheries, the feed mills, the processing plants, the transportation sector and our farmers — who are all showing up to work during these difficult times to help feed our families.
Keeping employees safe and healthy is the chicken industry’s top priority.
Each chicken company is committed to protecting their employees, ensuring they are in a position to continue supplying safe, affordable, and high quality chicken.
In response to COVID-19, each chicken company has added additional protective measures to help keep employees safe and healthy. Companies are following all of the CDC and local health department guidelines, and many have consulted with infectious disease physicians to develop site plans.
Chicken companies have enacted many additional measures to keep workers safe, including:
- Increasing cleaning and sanitation frequencies and intensities for equipment and common areas, such as the breakroom and vending machines, at processing facilities
- Increase frequency of handwashing/sanitation for employees and increased access to hand sanitizing stations
- 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
- Heightening 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
- Implementing travel restrictions and only allowing essential personnel into the plant
- Educating employees about the virus and ways to avoid catching it, and posting educational information in a variety of languages
- Training company nurses on CDC protocols for COVID-19
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and gloves, and permitting employees to bring their own PPE
- Installing plastic dividers between workstations and in breakrooms
Companies are finding ways to show appreciation for those workers who are helping to support an entire nation. Although policies vary, companies are offering paid sick leave, bonus/hazard pay, free chicken for employees, waiving the waiting period for short term disability, and making personal time off policies more flexible.
While it’s unknown how COVID-19 will continue to evolve in the days ahead, you can be assured that the chicken industry is adjusting and adapting to address it.
Each company is actively monitoring this situation and continually adjusting their approach as we learn more about the spread of this virus. If you are looking for additional information about COVID-19, you can visit www.cdc.gov/covid19 and state-specific public health websites. Chicken Check In’s COVID-19 resources page also features information that the National Chicken Council has compiled and created specifically in support of the chicken industry.