OPAC is continuing to update and tighten protocols to keep its staff safe in Covid-19 emergency.

Chief executive Ian Coventry said that as a large employer in town, the company realised it was important to keep residents informed of what was happening in the business as this “stressful time”.

Mr Coventry said updated protocols had been implemented to keep staff safe during the level four lockdown, so the company could continue operating efficiently for its growers.

He has thanked staff for “supporting your workmates and OPAC as we develop appropriate controls and processes that can ensure we are all safe while at work, minimising the risks to each other and to those waiting for us at home”.

Upgraded security procedures include checkpoint cabins and wardens stationed at the main Waioeka and Factory Road entrances.

“When arriving for your shift you will be asked if you are well and ok to be at work,” Mr Coventry said.

“You will need to show your Essential Worker travel approval letter.”

The staff member would be asked to confirm that if they had anyone else travelling with them, that the other person was part of their isolation bubble.

“After the commencement of the shift the carparks will be closed off, and all visitors will be required to register with the gate warden and provide a valid reason why they need to be on site,” Mr Coventry said.

“No deliveries will be allowed to staff, other than for essential operational requirements.

“This means you must bring your lunch and anything else you need for the day with you – it cannot be dropped off.”

Mr Coventry said, in addition, the company had installed plastic screening and barriers in both packhouses.

“The screening increases the safety of packing staff by ensuring a physical barrier between their workstations at all times,” he said.

“Packing staff are still required to maintain the minimum two-metre separation from all other workers at any time they are not at their workstation.”

Stacking and tray-preparation areas had also had barriers or screens installed to restrict movement and increase staff protection where needed.

“Partitions have been installed at hand washing stations to increase separation and reduce the time it is taking to get to and from work and breaks,” Mr Coventry said.

Workers at OPAC were also required to complete a staff declaration.

“As part of our MPI registration of you as an ‘essential worker,’ we are required to ensure you’re informed, aware, and agree to abide by the new Covid-19 protocol,” Mr Coventry said.

“The declaration is compulsory and we’ll be asking you to read and sign them on your next shift.”

In signing the declaration, the staff member is confirming they understand all of the new requirements, including what they must do outside of work hours under level four response “Stay at Home” rules.

“You are also declaring that you will let OPAC know if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have had any suspected exposure to someone who may have been infected with Covid-19,” Mr Coventry said.

“This is absolutely crucial to maintain OPAC as a safe workplace for all other staff.”

Mr Coventry said the company was awaiting a visit from MPI to assess the adequacy of its safety measures, which he hoped would occur in the coming days.

“This visit will provide us guidance and help improve what we are already doing,” he said.

“Further changes and requirements are likely to arise from the visit so please be prepared to adapt with us as we need to ensure we can continue to provide work and assist our growers to harvest and pack the 2020 kiwifruit crop.”

sven.carlsson@thebeacon.co.nz