ST-HYACINTHE, QC – Olymel is resuming its hog slaughter and cutting plant in Quebec April 14 and employees who were in isolation since March 29 are being recalled.
Olymel used the 14-day closure starting March 29 to implement a new protocol, with the objective of protecting workers’ health and fight the spread of COVID-19. They had assistance from public health authorities including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Commission des normes, de l’équité et de la santé et sécurité du travail (CNESST) as well as the TUAC-Local 1991-P union.
Employees who have been in isolation since March 29 are being recalled according to a list approved by public health authorities. They must not exhibit any symptoms related to COVID-19.
Starting Tuesday morning, the first group of employees will be received at the plant by a team of people trained to give them instructions about the new protocol, which has been adapted for work in a slaughterhouse and related activities such as cutting and packaging. A station will be set up at the plant entrance where everyone will answer a questionnaire. Olymel has recruited a medical expert, Dr. Serge Dubuc, a specialist in occupational medicine. He and an occupational hygiene technician from the CIUSSS-MCQ will be on-site Tuesday to supervise the return to work.
When the distance of two meters can’t be respected between two working stations, a mitigation measure is instituted such as the installation of separating panels and the wearing of a mask and protective visor, under the recommendation of l’Institut national de santé publique du Québec, and in addition to all the other protections already in place. There will be increased in monitoring and screening activities and permanent signs to raise awareness and promote responsibility. Hygiene and disinfection measures will be rigorously enforced.
Olymel said it has been paying particular attention to the transportation of employees coming from outside the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec region using shuttles, and the situation is being closely monitored in collaboration with the employment agencies. The shuttles will only be able to operate if they respect a distance of two meters between passengers. Agency workers will be monitored and public health authority recommendations must be followed.
Before the pandemic, the Yamachiche plant’s weekly slaughter capacity was 28,000 hogs. Olymel said they are hoping to gradually return to that capacity, depending on the way the situation evolves.