ACCOMAC, VA. – Representatives from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) toured the Virginia poultry processing plant operated by Perdue Farms and offered recommendations aimed at enhancing current health and safety protocols at the facilities.
On March 28, an employee at its Perry, Ga., poultry processing plant tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). In response, the company implemented a series of measures to protect workers such as temperature and symptoms screenings, social distancing in common areas such as restrooms, break rooms, locker rooms and cafeterias and staggering shifts and break times among other measures.
Suggestions provided by the CDC included:
- Continuing the established efforts, such as screening workers for COVID-19 symptoms; providing ongoing training on infection control; frequent review of policies; use of modified workstations that promote social distancing and use of dividers and personal protective equipment (PPE) where this is not possible; promoting single-file, uni-directional movement through the plant;
- Consulting with maintenance staff or a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning engineer to ensure adequate ventilation in production areas;
- Using touch-free timeclocks and touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers;
- Considering “cohorting” or the assignment of groups to the same shifts with the same coworkers to help to minimize the number of different individuals who come into close contact with each other over the course of a week;
- Including production workers, in addition to management, on the COVID-19 coordination committee to help determine communication gaps and implement the provided recommendations;
- Discouraging carpooling or use of public transportation when possible, and provide guidance on how to minimize risk when carpooling or public transportation is necessary;
- Providing a covered area for workers to line up prior to screening and in the walkways leading up to the plant to discourage congregating during inclement weather; and
- Continuing to instruct any worker who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to stay home from work.
“We are a tight-knit community here at our Accomac facility, and Perdue continues to put our people first,” said Sam Rascona, director of operations at Perdue Farms’ Accomac, Va., facility. “We responded swiftly and thoroughly to the threat of COVID-19 to protect our associates, whose safety remains our top priority.”
CDC representatives previously toured Perdue Farms facilities in Salisbury, Md., and Georgetown and Milford, Del. Perdue Farms is the fourth-largest producer of chicken in the United States and operates food processing plants in 10 states.