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Preventing the spread of COVID-19 at your factory

Download the Australian Food and Grocery Council's 'Principles for risk management of COVID-19 infection within manufacturing sites' (Version 1.1, 6 April 2020) (PDF)

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. It spreads in breath and when people cough and sneeze. It is a sticky virus that can survive on contaminated surfaces, including the skin, for some time. People become infected by breathing it in or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their face. Many infected people don’t show symptoms and it can spread quietly and quickly. Mild to moderate signs include fever, cough and increased effort to breathe. In severe cases, people can end up in intensive care in hospital and can die. Older members of the factory workforce and those with other health conditions are at much greater risk of a bad outcome if they become infected.

Protect from high risk situations

Identify anyone who may have been in high risk situations and ensure they have no contact with other people in the business.

Protect older and vulnerable workers who are at greater risk and stop contact where possible: what jobs can they do where they won’t come into contact with others?

Prevent contact between people

Everyone can get sick with and spread COVID-19, including the young and healthy. This is a new virus: no one has immunity.

Prevent exposure for everyone by:

  1. reducing the number of people at the factory at any one time;
  2. reducing contact between people when at the factory1. Measures which ensure physical distancing and structured movements of staff and equipment will help maximise business continuity in the event of a positive case of COVID-192.

Emphasise good personal hygiene practices to reduce the spread of droplets in the air and minimise the risk of contaminating surfaces.3

Prevent contact with infected surfaces

COVID-19 can’t multiply outside the body, but it can survive for several days on surfaces. Think about what surfaces are shared between people in your factory and how sharing can be stopped. Increase preventative cleaning protocols - particularly in shared amenity spaces and high traffic touch point areas - and consider a daily cleaning regime between shift changeovers if not already in place.

[1] The Australian Industry Group has developed an excellent guideline to support manufacturers develop their own strategies to minimise contact between workers and general risks to the workforce. The US Department of Labor’s “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” is also very helpful.

[2]It should be assumed that the affected staff member plus any personnel in close contact will be required to self-isolate. Known patterns of movement will support post-infection sanitation of the workplace and limit any potential downtime for disinfection.

[3]COVID-19 is coated in a fatty membrane. Soaps are more effective than sanitisers at removing fats and washing for 20 seconds is important. Sanitiser is far better than not washing.


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