GAA’s COVID-19 Blog: GAA Creates COVID-19 Guidance Document for Seafood Processing Facilities

Editor’s note: The Global Aquaculture Alliance is keeping its members and stakeholders up to date on announcements related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in this blog. Please check back here regularly for information.

COVID-19 coronavirus

September 11, 2020: GAA Creates COVID-19 Guidance Document for Seafood Supply Chain

Our team at Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) has created a guidance document for aquaculture facilities in the age of COVID-19. If you have any questions feel free to contact our Corporate Responsibility Manager, Avery Siciliano. Additionally, a complimentary COVID-19 guidance poster can be found here for printing and sharing. Join the conversation about this on Connect to engage with other facilities.

Protecting Employees and Seafood Supply Chains during COVID-19

Introduction

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is committed to advancing employee health and safety and dedicated to supporting not only Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified facilities, but also all companies handling seafood products during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following guidance is intended to act as a resource for seafood handling companies seeking best practices to keep their employees healthy and limit the exposure to and the spread of COVID-19. While the objective of this guidance is to protect employees, this is also the most effective way to reduce the risk of contamination of food products or packaging.[1] Although the measures described are particularly aimed at factories where employees work in close proximity to one another, many of the principles can also be applied in other work environments.

This guidance outlines general principles; however, GAA acknowledges that information related to the coronavirus is constantly evolving, and the circumstances for each company may differ. Please refer to international, national, and local government resources for the latest information and policies related to COVID-19.

It should be noted that the term COVID-19 used throughout this document refers to the disease caused by a virus known scientifically as the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.[2] Here are three primary routes of transmission: 1) contact with respiratory droplets (> 5 microns in diameter) from an infected person in close proximity, 2) touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes, and 3) exposure to aerosols (expired microdroplets less than 5 microns in diameter) that can remain suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes and drift several meters.[3],[4]

Step 1. Identify measures to protect workers and reduce the risk of transmission

It is important to stay informed of guidance from international, national, and local health agencies, and consider how to incorporate these recommendations and resources into workplans. Plans should address the levels of risk associated with the worksite and tasks being performed. Social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment are strongly recommended. The CDC released interim guidance for worker safety and support that includes most components of seafood supply chains. Workers and employers from each section of the supply chain can access specific safety guidance on the CDC web page.[5]

  • Airlines and Airport
  • Maritime Shipping
  • Delivery and Ground Transportation
  • Agricultural Workers and Employees
  • Grocery and Food Retail Workers
  • Seafood Processing Workers
  • Warehousing Employees and Employers

The guidance, “Protecting Seafood Processing Workers from Covid-19”, specifically outlines risks for seafood processing workers; however, the guiding principles apply to workers throughout seafood supply chains.

  • All employees should be trained in identification of symptoms, in implementation of all policies that are developed to reduce exposure, and in job-specific strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
  • The company should also educate employees on the different methods of transmission for Covid-19 and encourage employees to employ safe practices outside of the workday.
  • Companies should conduct an employee COVID-19 contamination workplace hazard risk assessment for all onsite employees, based on proximity/contact/common space requirements for each position.
  • The company should appoint one team member and an appropriate backup per shift (2 total per shift), who are to be the only persons visually examining employees prior to entering the facility for symptoms via a touchless thermometer aimed at the forehead only.

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing can help prevent the spread of communicable diseases by limiting person-to-person contact.[6] The key principle is to implement minimum spacing (at least 6 feet/2 meters distance) between employees, which may require modifying the work space or increasing the number of shifts to reduce employee crowding.[7] Any reasonable efforts the company can make to reduce employee density/crowding should be made, including but not limited to allocating employees to work remotely where duties permit, scheduling multiple shifts for onsite employees, alternating offsite/onsite working days and other efforts in order to reduce employee crowding, density, and mitigate the effected working population of any potential outbreak.
  • Breaks should be staggered to avoid overcrowding in the lunchroom, or multiple lunch areas should be created.
  • Outdoor spaces should be utilized where possible to reduce crowding and enhance air circulation.

Visual cues (posters, signs, etc.) should be used to remind workers of social distancing measures. Add additional clock in/out stations, if possible, that are spaced apart, to reduce crowding in these areas. Consider alternatives such as touch-free methods or staggering times for workers to clock in/out.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may help slow the spread of COVID-19 if used correctly. The CDC has provided guidelines on how to properly put on and take off PPE.[8]

Printable posters demonstrating effective use and removal of personal protective equipment are available here.

  • Masks or cloth face coverings should be provided to all onsite employees[9]
    • Masks shall not be exchanged between workers
    • Masks must either be single-use only and disposed safely immediately following shift; OR washable and sanitarily washed between shifts in compliance with any local laws and regulations
  • When selecting PPE, consider factors such as function, fit, decontamination ability, and disposal. Sometimes, when PPE will have to be used repeatedly for a long period of time, a more expensive and durable type of PPE may be less expensive overall than disposable PPE. Each employer should select the combination of PPE that protects workers specific to their workplace. (OSHA)
  • N95 filtering facepiece respirators are recommended for health care providers and may be in limited supply. Other types of acceptable respirators include: a R/P95, N/R/P99, or N/R/P100 filtering facepiece respirator; an air-purifying elastomeric (e.g., half-face or full-face) respirator with appropriate filters or cartridges; powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) with high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter; or supplied air respirator (SAR).[10]

Respirator mask codes 

Letter meaning Number meaning
N: Not oil resistant 95: Removes 95% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
R: Resistant to oil 99: Removes 99% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
P: Oil proof 100: Removes 99.97% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
For example:  An “N95” mask code means the mask is ‘not resistant to oil’ (N), and removes 95% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
  • All types of PPE must be:
    • Selected based upon the hazard to the worker.
    • Properly fitted and periodically refitted, as applicable (e.g., respirators).
    • Consistently and properly worn when required.
    • Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced, as necessary.
    • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of, as applicable, to avoid contamination of self, others, or the environment.
  • Workers who need to use protecting clothing and equipment must be trained by a properly qualified supervisor concerning how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. Training material must be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers.

Air Ventilation and Disinfection

Given the increasing evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by aerosols, enhanced ventilation in the workplace and common areas is important to reduce the spread of the virus in addition to social distancing and other protective measures. Increasing existing ventilation (outdoor/indoor change rate), air filtration through HEPA air purifiers, and increasing the exchange of fresh outdoor air into the facility is critical. Increasing circulation may be helpful as long as the facility is bringing in new outdoor air.

Ventilation outlets such as windows or skylights shall be opened to enhance circulation of fresh air, as studies show viral aerosols can linger in air.[11]

Where increased ventilation is not possible, Covid-19 in aerosols can be destroyed using germicidal ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the wavelength range of 200-300 nm (UV-C). Lamps can be installed in HVAC systems of buildings or in the upper area of rooms separated from the work space by louvers (see Figures 1 and 2).[12],[13] Portable units can also be installed in areas not receiving adequate air flow.  To assure safety of workers from damaging UV rays, only professional engineered UV systems should be installed.  Recent advances in development of transparent conductors in the UV spectra are expected to yield cheaper and more efficient UV disinfection systems.[14],[15]

Figure 2. An upper room with UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation). (Full article available here)

Step 2. Implement robust prevention methods

It is important to implement robust sanitation practices to eliminate and reduce the spread of Covid-19. Employee hygiene and workplace sanitation are essential to preventing an outbreak and keeping everyone safe.

Workplace Sanitation

The Center for Disease Control recommends the following practices regarding workplace sanitation:[16]

  • Provide workers access to soap, clean running water, and single use paper towels for handwashing.
  • Provide a sanitary trash receptacle that does not require touching to dispose of wastes, used wipes and paper towels, etc. (OSHA)
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as door handles for entry and exit of facilities, shared bathroom facilities, etc.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not immediately available.
  • Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. If possible, choose hand sanitizer stations that are touch-free.
  • Consider other workplace programs to promote personal hygiene, such as: building additional short breaks into staff schedules to increase how often staff can wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol; providing tissues and no-touch trash receptacles for workers to use; and educating workers that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco use can lead to increased contact between potentially contaminated hands and their mouth, and that avoiding these products may reduce their risk of infection.
  • Encourage workers to wear gloves as appropriate.
  • Discourage workers from touching their faces, eyes, mouth, nose, or body where possible after hand sanitizing or donning of gloves.
  • Disinfect and clean workspaces: clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
  • Provide essential personnel who may be exposed while working away from fixed facilities with alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol for decontamination in the field (OSHA)
  • Consider establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another while maintaining a full onsite work week. (OSHA)
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible. (OSHA)

The use of commercial fogging technology is encouraged to reduce the presence of the virus. Fogging machines disperse chemical disinfectants to decontaminate large areas and equipment. They should be used after all surfaces have been cleaned and only after the work shift has ended. It is important to follow national and local legislation for proper application of approved disinfectants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a list of cleaners for COVID-19 available here.

Step 3. Develop policies for employee wellness, sick leave, and screening visitors

Employee Wellness and Sick Leave

In addition to complying with all national and/or local laws/requirements, companies should consider additional guidance. Workers should not report to work nor be encouraged to report to work if they appear sick or are experiencing the symptoms outlined on the following CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

  • Mandatory temperature checks of all workers should be conducted prior to starting their shifts via a touchless thermometer.
  • Any worker whose temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees F cannot be allowed to work that day and must be sent to an authorized COVID-19 testing facility to be tested. If positive they must self-isolate until a qualified healthcare provider has confirmed that their test results for COVID-19 are negative.
  • If an employee tests positive, the facility should conduct ‘contact-tracing’ of any employees who have worked within close proximity to the COVID-positive employee, and arrange COVID-19 testing for those employees working within close proximity to the COVID-positive employee.
  • Encourage sick workers to self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider;
  • Provide workers information on the facility’s return-to-work policies and procedures; and
  • Inform human resources, employer health unit (if in place), and supervisor (so worker can be moved off schedule during illness and a replacement can be assigned, if needed).
  • Any workers confirmed to have COVID-19 who have symptoms and have stayed home (home isolated) should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html), and have consulted with their healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Reassign vulnerable workers to other duties wherever possible.

Screening Visitors

  • Post signs at all entrances requesting all onsite personnel (including any Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors) to immediately report symptoms of respiratory illness on arrival. (OSHA)
  • The only onsite facility visitors permitted should be considered “Extremely Essential Visitors” (EEV) and all meetings requiring Non-Essential Visitors (NEV) should be conducted offsite.
    • Examples of Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors (EEV): inspectors, legally required persons, waste management and disposal personnel, cleaning and maintenance contractors.
    • Examples of Non-Essential Visitors (NEV): sales meetings, vendors of information technology, new employee interviews, contractors whose jobs are able to be conducted offsite, such as advisors, financial analysts, and parties to any meeting which is able to be conducted off site.
  • The facility should keep a Security Register Logbook where all non-onsite visitors (including Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors) should register their Name, Date, Time of Entry and Time of Exit upon entering and exiting the facility in order to enhance contact-tracing should any visitor or employee test positive for COVID-19.
  • The Security Register Logbook should be kept at the facility’s main entry area where one employee shall be appointed to maintain security and assurance of company biosecurity policies. The Front Entry posted employee may also be authorized to visually scan all EEV visitors for symptoms and take the temperature of EEV visitors via a touchless thermometer.
    • If any EEV shows symptoms, this visitor must be refused, and the incident logged in the Security Register Logbook.
    • Where possible, any EEV performing a task which allows the EEV to remain in their vehicle and call a facility representative to take delivery of the service outside the facility building must remain in their vehicle and the employee taking delivery to log that the EEV stayed inside the vehicle during the visit.
    • Where possible, physical contact between EEV and onsite employees must be reduced or cancelled during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shared Experiences from BAP Producers

The following are examples of experiences from BAP-certified companies:

  • Facilities have placed document delivery boxes in locations outside the facility (similar to a mail box nailed to an outside wall) where delivery slips, visitor logs, and any paperwork which is necessary to be exchanged can be kept, so that anyone whose responsibilities do not involve entering a physical building can be denied entry.
  • Facilities have required delivery truck drivers to remain in their vehicles at all times, including during any necessary sanitation of the cargo hold of the vehicle, to mitigate contact between offsite and onsite persons.
  • Facilities have allocated many documentation-oriented personnel or those whose jobs may be performed remotely work remotely from home where possible to reduce crowding and/or possible transmission at worksites.
  • Facilities have assigned worker crews to limit their contact to a smaller number of physical workstations, and prohibited mingling of workers from different workstations.
  • Facilities have acquired new chemicals for cleaning the surfaces of the office buildings, labeled those chemicals properly, trained employees in their use, and updated material safety data sheets to include these chemicals.
  • Employee testing before they were able to live in onsite housing – in one example, 29 employees were screened and one was found to be positive and put in quarantine.
  • Facilities have created cross-functional teams to discuss and implement strategies to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
  • Common areas have been equipped with EPA Registered aerosol for post-cleaning sanitation and nightly fogging technology is being used.
  • Plastic separators are being fabricated and installed in areas of the facility where social distancing is challenging or inadequate.
  • Break Room seating has been reduced to designated seats at 6-foot intervals, with signage and monitoring.
  • Lines have been painted in the parking lot to separate Employees while awaiting temperature screening.
  • Breaks and Lunches have been staggered to reduce the amount of people in common areas at any given time.
  • Have tightened policies about visitors after notification that a confirmed COVID-19 passenger had been on the same plane as the visitor. As a result, everyone at the plant who had been in contact with that visitor was required to quarantine for 14 days.
Annex 1: Sample Visitor Screening Form
PRE-VISIT AT THE TIME OF VISIT
  Date: Date:
Do you/they have fever or have you/they felt hot or feverish recently
(14-21 days)?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Are you/they having shortness of breath or other difficulties breathing?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Do you/they have a cough?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Any other flu-like symptoms, such as gastrointestinal upset, headache
or fatigue?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Have you/they experienced recent loss of taste or smell?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Are you/they in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Is your/their age over 60?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Do you/they have heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease,
diabetes or any auto-immune disorders?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Have you/they traveled in the past 14 days to any regions affected
by COVID-19? (as relevant to your location)
 Yes     No  Yes     No

[1] https://www.unitedfresh.co.nz/assets/COVID-19/United-Fresh—Potential-for-Foodborne-Transmission-of-Covid-19—Literature-Review-Update-19-May-20.pdf

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Ftransmission.html

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876?via%3Dihub

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02058-1?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d8ecc52b76-briefing-dy-20200709&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d8ecc52b76-45114746

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/worker-safety-support/index.html

[6] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

[7]  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/meat-poultry-processing-workers-employers.html

[8] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/using-ppe.html

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/25/meat-workers-safety-jbs-smithfield-tyson/?fbclid=IwAR3qpZEX6VtwQ44YiauZseF_s_tV6rfw22CRKiMLrXxw2SAHUpMUIYk9Yrk

[10] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy

[11] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-27/coronavirus-lingers-in-air-of-crowded-spaces-new-study-finds

[12] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876?via%3Dihub

[13] https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.12.20129254v1

[14] https://www.healtheuropa.eu/breakthrough-ultraviolet-light-development-could-help-kill-covid-19-virus/100409/

[15] https://www.nature.com/articles/s42005-020-0372-9

[16]  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/meat-poultry-processing-workers-employers.html

July 21, 2020: GAA Creates COVID-19 Guidance Document for Seafood Processing Facilities

Our team at Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) has created a guidance document for aquaculture facilities in the age of COVID-19. If you have any questions feel free to contact our Corporate Responsibility Manager, Avery Siciliano. Additionally, a complimentary COVID-19 guidance poster can be found here for printing and sharing. Join the conversation about this on Connect to engage with other facilities.

Protecting Employees at Seafood Processing Facilities during COVID-19

Introduction

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is committed to advancing employee health and safety and dedicated to supporting Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following guidance is intended to act as a resource for seafood processing facilities seeking best practices to keep their employees healthy and limit the exposure to and the spread of COVID-19. While the objective of this guidance is to protect employees, this is also the most effective way to reduce the risk of contamination of food products or packaging.[1] Although the measures described are particularly aimed at factories where employees work in close proximity to one another, many of the principles can also be applied in other work environments.

This guidance outlines general principles; however, GAA acknowledges that information related to the coronavirus is constantly evolving, and the circumstances for each facility may differ. Please refer to international, national, and local government resources for the latest information and policies related to COVID-19.

It should be noted that the term COVID-19 used throughout this document refers to the disease caused by a virus known scientifically as the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.[2] Here are three primary routes of transmission: 1) contact with respiratory droplets (> 5 microns in diameter) from an infected person in close proximity, 2) touching contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes, and 3) exposure to aerosols (expired microdroplets less than 5 microns in diameter) that can remain suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes and drift several meters.[3],[4]

Step 1. Identify measures to protect workers and reduce the risk of transmission

It is important to stay informed of guidance from international, national, and local health agencies, and consider how to incorporate these recommendations and resources into workplans. Plans should address the levels of risk associated with the worksite and tasks being performed. Social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment are strongly recommended. The CDC released interim guidance on, “Protecting Seafood Processing Workers from Covid-19” that outlines risks for seafood processing workers including distance between workers, duration of contact, type of contact, and communal housing (see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-seafood-processing.html.)

  • All employees should be trained in identification of symptoms, in implementation of all policies that are developed to reduce exposure, and in job-specific strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
  • The facility should also educate employees on the different methods of transmission for Covid-19 and encourage employees to employ safe practices outside of the workday.
  • Facilities should conduct an employee COVID-19 contamination workplace hazard risk assessment for all onsite facility employees, based on proximity/contact/common space requirements for each position.
  • The facility should appoint one team member and an appropriate backup per shift (2 total per shift), who are to be the only persons visually examining employees prior to entering the facility for symptoms via a touchless thermometer aimed at the forehead only.

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing can help prevent the spread of communicable diseases by limiting person-to-person contact.[5] The key principle is to implement minimum spacing (at least 6 feet/2 meters distance) between employees, which may require modifying the work space or increasing the number of shifts to reduce employee crowding.[6] Any reasonable efforts the facility can make to reduce employee density/crowding should be made, including but not limited to allocating employees to work remotely where duties permit, scheduling multiple shifts for onsite employees, alternating offsite/onsite working days and other efforts in order to reduce employee crowding, density, and mitigate the effected working population of any potential outbreak.
  • Breaks should be staggered to avoid overcrowding in the lunchroom, or multiple lunch areas should be created.
  • Outdoor spaces should be utilized where possible to reduce crowding and enhance air circulation.

Visual cues (posters, signs, etc.) should be used to remind workers of social distancing measures. Add additional clock in/out stations, if possible, that are spaced apart, to reduce crowding in these areas. Consider alternatives such as touch-free methods or staggering times for workers to clock in/out.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may help slow the spread of COVID-19 if used correctly. The CDC has provided guidelines on how to properly put on and take off PPE.[7]

Printable posters demonstrating effective use and removal of personal protective equipment are available at this link.

  • Masks or cloth face coverings should be provided to all onsite employees[8]
    • Masks shall not be exchanged between workers
    • Masks must either be single-use only and disposed safely immediately following shift; OR washable and sanitarily washed between shifts in compliance with any local laws and regulations
  • When selecting PPE, consider factors such as function, fit, decontamination ability, and disposal. Sometimes, when PPE will have to be used repeatedly for a long period of time, a more expensive and durable type of PPE may be less expensive overall than disposable PPE. Each employer should select the combination of PPE that protects workers specific to their workplace. (OSHA)
  • N95 filtering facepiece respirators are recommended for health care providers and may be in limited supply. Other types of acceptable respirators include: a R/P95, N/R/P99, or N/R/P100 filtering facepiece respirator; an air-purifying elastomeric (e.g., half-face or full-face) respirator with appropriate filters or cartridges; powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) with high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter; or supplied air respirator (SAR).[9]

Respirator mask codes 

Letter meaning Number meaning
N: Not oil resistant 95: Removes 95% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
R: Resistant to oil 99: Removes 99% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
P: Oil proof 100: Removes 99.97% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
For example:  An “N95” mask code means the mask is ‘not resistant to oil’ (N), and removes 95% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in diameter
  • All types of PPE must be:
    • Selected based upon the hazard to the worker.
    • Properly fitted and periodically refitted, as applicable (e.g., respirators).
    • Consistently and properly worn when required.
    • Regularly inspected, maintained, and replaced, as necessary.
    • Properly removed, cleaned, and stored or disposed of, as applicable, to avoid contamination of self, others, or the environment.
  • Workers who need to use protecting clothing and equipment must be trained by a properly qualified supervisor concerning how to put it on, use/wear it, and take it off correctly, including in the context of their current and potential duties. Training material must be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all workers.

Air Ventilation and Disinfection

Given the increasing evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by aerosols, enhanced ventilation in the workplace and common areas is important to reduce the spread of the virus in addition to social distancing and other protective measures. Increasing existing ventilation (outdoor/indoor change rate), air filtration through HEPA air purifiers, and increasing the exchange of fresh outdoor air into the facility is critical. Increasing circulation may be helpful as long as the facility is bringing in new outdoor air.

  • Ventilation outlets such as windows or skylights shall be opened to enhance circulation of fresh air, as studies show viral aerosols can linger in air.[10]

Where increased ventilation is not possible, Covid-19 in aerosols can be destroyed using germicidal ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the wavelength range of 200-300 nm (UV-C). Lamps can be installed in HVAC systems of buildings or in the upper area of rooms separated from the work space by louvers (see Figures 1 and 2).[11],[12] Portable units can also be installed in areas not receiving adequate air flow.  To assure safety of workers from damaging UV rays, only professional engineered UV systems should be installed.  Recent advances in development of transparent conductors in the UV spectra are expected to yield cheaper and more efficient UV disinfection systems.[13],[14]

Figure 1. Engineering level controls to reduce the environmental risks for airborne transmission. Full article available here.

Figure 2. An upper room with UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation). Full article available here.

Step 2. Implement robust prevention methods

It is important to implement robust sanitation practices to eliminate and reduce the spread of Covid-19. Employee hygiene and workplace sanitation are essential to preventing an outbreak and keeping everyone safe.

Workplace Sanitation

The Center for Disease Control recommends the following practices regarding workplace sanitation:[15]

  • Provide workers access to soap, clean running water, and single use paper towels for handwashing.
  • Provide a sanitary trash receptacle that does not require touching to dispose of wastes, used wipes and paper towels, etc. (OSHA)
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as door handles for entry and exit of facilities, shared bathroom facilities, etc.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not immediately available.
  • Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. If possible, choose hand sanitizer stations that are touch-free.
  • Consider other workplace programs to promote personal hygiene, such as: building additional short breaks into staff schedules to increase how often staff can wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol; providing tissues and no-touch trash receptacles for workers to use; and educating workers that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco use can lead to increased contact between potentially contaminated hands and their mouth, and that avoiding these products may reduce their risk of infection.
  • Encourage workers to wear gloves as appropriate.
  • Discourage workers from touching their faces, eyes, mouth, nose, or body where possible after hand sanitizing or donning of gloves.
  • Disinfect and clean workspaces: clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.
  • Provide essential personnel who may be exposed while working away from fixed facilities with alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol for decontamination in the field (OSHA)
  • Consider establishing alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time, allowing them to maintain distance from one another while maintaining a full onsite work week. (OSHA)
  • Minimizing contact among workers, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing telework if feasible. (OSHA)

The use of commercial fogging technology is encouraged to reduce the presence of the virus. Fogging machines disperse chemical disinfectants to decontaminate large areas and equipment. They should be used after all surfaces have been cleaned and only after the work shift has ended. It is important to follow national and local legislation for proper application of approved disinfectants. The U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency has approved a list of cleaners for COVID-19 available at this link.

Source: Image of a NiteStar commercial fogging machine, https://www.nixalite.com/product/nightstar-ulv-lvm

 

Step 3. Develop policies for employee wellness, sick leave, and screening visitors

Employee Wellness and Sick Leave

Workers should not report to work nor be encouraged to report to work if they appear sick or are experiencing the symptoms outlined on the following CDC website.

  • Mandatory temperature checks of all workers should be conducted prior to starting their shifts via a touchless thermometer.
  • Any worker whose temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees F cannot be allowed to work that day and must be sent to an authorized COVID-19 testing facility to be tested. If positive they must self-isolate until a qualified healthcare provider has confirmed that their test results for COVID-19 are negative.
  • If an employee tests positive, the facility should conduct ‘contact-tracing’ of any employees who have worked within close proximity to the COVID-positive employee, and arrange COVID-19 testing for those employees working within close proximity to the COVID-positive employee.
  • Encourage sick workers to self-isolate and contact a healthcare provider;
  • Provide workers information on the facility’s return-to-work policies and procedures; and
  • Inform human resources, employer health unit (if in place), and supervisor (so worker can be moved off schedule during illness and a replacement can be assigned, if needed).
  • Any workers confirmed to have COVID-19 who have symptoms and have stayed home (home isolated) should not return to work until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html), and have consulted with their healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Reassign vulnerable workers to other duties wherever possible.

Source: https://www.todayonline.com/world/thermometer-guns-covid-19-front-lines-are-notoriously-not-accurate

Screening Visitors

  • Post signs at all entrances requesting all onsite personnel (including any Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors) to immediately report symptoms of respiratory illness on arrival. (OSHA)
  • The only onsite facility visitors permitted should be considered “Extremely Essential Visitors” (EEV) and all meetings requiring Non-Essential Visitors (NEV) should be conducted offsite.
    • Examples of Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors (EEV): inspectors, legally required persons, waste management and disposal personnel, cleaning and maintenance contractors.
    • Examples of Non-Essential Visitors (NEV): sales meetings, vendors of information technology, new employee interviews, contractors whose jobs are able to be conducted offsite, such as advisors, financial analysts, and parties to any meeting which is able to be conducted off site.
  • The facility should keep a Security Register Logbook where all non-onsite visitors (including Extremely Essential Onsite Visitors) should register their Name, Date, Time of Entry and Time of Exit upon entering and exiting the facility in order to enhance contact-tracing should any visitor or employee test positive for COVID-19.
  • The Security Register Logbook should be kept at the facility’s main entry area where one employee shall be appointed to maintain security and assurance of company biosecurity policies. The Front Entry posted employee may also be authorized to visually scan all EEV visitors for symptoms and take the temperature of EEV visitors via a touchless thermometer.
    • If any EEV shows symptoms, this visitor must be refused, and the incident logged in the Security Register Logbook.
    • Where possible, any EEV performing a task which allows the EEV to remain in their vehicle and call a facility representative to take delivery of the service outside the facility building must remain in their vehicle and the employee taking delivery to log that the EEV stayed inside the vehicle during the visit.
    • Where possible, physical contact between EEV and onsite employees must be reduced or cancelled during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Shared Experiences from BAP Producers

The following are examples of experiences from BAP facilities:

  • Facilities have placed document delivery boxes in locations outside the facility (similar to a mail box nailed to an outside wall) where delivery slips, visitor logs, and any paperwork which is necessary to be exchanged can be kept, so that anyone whose responsibilities do not involve entering a physical building can be denied entry.
  • Facilities have required delivery truck drivers to remain in their vehicles at all times, including during any necessary sanitation of the cargo hold of the vehicle, to mitigate contact between offsite and onsite persons.
  • Facilities have allocated many documentation-oriented personnel or those whose jobs may be performed remotely work remotely from home where possible to reduce crowding and/or possible transmission at worksites.
  • Facilities have assigned worker crews to limit their contact to a smaller number of physical workstations, and prohibited mingling of workers from different workstations.
  • Facilities have acquired new chemicals for cleaning the surfaces of the office buildings, labeled those chemicals properly, trained employees in their use, and updated material safety data sheets to include these chemicals.
  • Employee testing before they were able to live in onsite housing – in one example, 29 employees were screened and one was found to be positive and put in quarantine.
  • Facilities have created cross-functional teams to discuss and implement strategies to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
  • Common areas have been equipped with EPA Registered aerosol for post-cleaning sanitation and nightly fogging technology is being used.
  • Plastic separators are being fabricated and installed in areas of the facility where social distancing is challenging or inadequate.
  • Break Room seating has been reduced to designated seats at 6-foot intervals, with signage and monitoring.
  • Lines have been painted in the parking lot to separate Employees while awaiting temperature screening.
  • Breaks and Lunches have been staggered to reduce the amount of people in common areas at any given time.
  • Have tightened policies about visitors after notification that a confirmed COVID-19 passenger had been on the same plane as the visitor. As a result, everyone at the plant who had been in contact with that visitor was required to quarantine for 14 days.

Annex 1: Sample Visitor Screening Form

PRE-VISIT AT THE TIME OF VISIT
  Date: Date:
Do you/they have fever or have you/they felt hot or feverish recently
(14-21 days)?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Are you/they having shortness of breath or other difficulties breathing?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Do you/they have a cough?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Any other flu-like symptoms, such as gastrointestinal upset, headache
or fatigue?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Have you/they experienced recent loss of taste or smell?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Are you/they in contact with any confirmed COVID-19 positive individuals?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Is your/their age over 60?  Yes     No  Yes     No
Do you/they have heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease,
diabetes or any auto-immune disorders?
 Yes     No  Yes     No
Have you/they traveled in the past 14 days to any regions affected
by COVID-19? (as relevant to your location)
 Yes     No  Yes     No

[1] https://www.unitedfresh.co.nz/assets/COVID-19/United-Fresh—Potential-for-Foodborne-Transmission-of-Covid-19—Literature-Review-Update-19-May-20.pdf

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Ftransmission.html

[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876?via%3Dihub

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02058-1?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=d8ecc52b76-briefing-dy-20200709&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-d8ecc52b76-45114746

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

[6]  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/meat-poultry-processing-workers-employers.html

[7] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/using-ppe.html

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/25/meat-workers-safety-jbs-smithfield-tyson/?fbclid=IwAR3qpZEX6VtwQ44YiauZseF_s_tV6rfw22CRKiMLrXxw2SAHUpMUIYk9Yrk

[9] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirators-strategy

[10] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-27/coronavirus-lingers-in-air-of-crowded-spaces-new-study-finds

[11] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020317876?via%3Dihub

[12] https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.12.20129254v1

[13] https://www.healtheuropa.eu/breakthrough-ultraviolet-light-development-could-help-kill-covid-19-virus/100409/

[14] https://www.nature.com/articles/s42005-020-0372-9

[15]  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/meat-poultry-processing-workers-employers.html

June 9, 2020: GAA Delivers Successful Remote Audit Pilots during COVID-19 Pandemic

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is pleased to report that 66 remote BAP audits were successfully conducted and completed on Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified farms, hatcheries and feed mills between April 3 and June 9.

These pilot audits were made possible by accelerated strategic planning, guidance and oversight of BAP’s program integrity and operations teams, enthusiastic BAP-certified facilities, collaborative certification bodies (CBs) and supportive retail and foodservice partners.

Click here to read the BAP announcement.

June 1, 2020: India’s Shrimp Industry Adapts to COVID-19 Restrictions

In this week’s issue of the Global Aquaculture Advocate, three Indian researchers analyze existing trends in the shrimp production supply chain in India, including hatcheries, farms, feed production and exporting, and propose strategies to help support industry resiliency and sustainability.

Subscribe to our email list to receive the weekly Advocate newsletter with new original articles each week.

May 18, 2020: Technology Allowing Aquaculture to do Social Distancing

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt, can technology and artificial intelligence (AI) help aquaculture find the way forward? That’s the question that correspondent Bonnie Waycott asks in this week’s issue of the Global Aquaculture Advocate.

Market disruption, reduced or suspended production and declining seafood demand are among the many impacts on aquaculture as COVID-19 carries on. Innovative companies, many of them still bearing the “startup” label, are offering support with a host of initiatives.

Subscribe to our email list to receive the weekly Advocate newsletter with new original articles each week.

May 5, 2020: GAA’s Country-By-Country COVID-19 Update

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) is, on a one-on-one basis, providing updates on how key seafood-production and -consumption countries are navigating COVID-19. With more than 2,300 Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP)-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills in 36 countries, GAA is uniquely positioned to provide a synopsis of how the pandemic is affecting aquaculture production facilities’ ability to operate, the flow of product in and out of countries and sourcing behaviors in leading markets.

Here is the country-by-country COVID-19 update for May 5. Contact a member of the BAP market development team if you’d like to receive these reports regularly.

April 16, 2020: How Is COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting the World of Aquaculture?

This week’s issue of the Global Aquaculture Advocate took a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world of aquaculture.

Correspondent Lauren Kramer surveyed a number of shellfish producers in the Pacific Northwest, who found their primary market — foodservice — disappear and are now essentially on hold.

Editor James Wright explored three different perspectives in looking how aquaculture might change in the future. He spoke with an epidemiologist about how understanding of aquatic diseases can evolve; an investor who sees temporary fixes becoming the new normal; and an RAS fish producer who had to make some on-the-fly adjustments to keep his business afloat during an unprecedented chain of events.

Subscribe to our email list to receive the weekly Advocate newsletter with new original articles each week.

April 2, 2020: GAA Remains Committed to Seafood Safety, Sustainability during COVID-19

The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) remains committed to assuring the safety and sustainability of seafood supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic while also providing relief to supporters of its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program.

During these challenging, uncertain times, GAA remains committed to its vision: A world that embraces and enables the role of responsibly farmed seafood in meeting global nutrition needs. The organization sees its role of helping producers offer safe, sustainable seafood to the public as important as ever.

On April 2, the BAP program announced adjustments to the auditing and certification process. Click here to read the BAP announcement.

Beyond the necessary adjustments to the BAP auditing and certification process, the BAP market development team is acting as a resource to the global seafood community, connecting producers and repackers with retailers and foodservice operators to find outlets for product, since many restaurants have been forced to scale back or halt operations because of COVID-19.

How can we help? Stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback to GAA and the BAP program at info@aquaculturealliance.org.

March 31, 2020: Advocate Editor’s Note, March 2020

In his March 2020 Editor’s Note, Global Aquaculture Advocate Editor James Wright addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Advocate’s editorial coverage. The monthly Editor’s Note, a benefit of GAA membership, is now available to GAA’s entire audience.

Click here to read the Editor’s Note.

March 24, 2020: Letter from GAA’s Wally Stevens on COVID-19

These are certainly unprecedented times. As we navigate through the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, know that the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) remains zeroed in on its mission — to promote responsible aquaculture practices through education, advocacy and demonstration.

Click here to read Wally Stevens’ letter.

March 17, 2020: CBs May Grant Audit Extensions on Case-By-Case Basis

The health and safety of our families and associates worldwide is a priority for the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program. The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and resulting international, domestic and local travel restrictions have undoubtedly impacted the lives of millions of people and the ability to do business in a timely fashion. Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, GAA is working closely with the certification bodies (CBs) that conduct BAP audits on a weekly basis to carefully evaluate the circumstance of each processing plant, farm, hatchery or feed mill and decide how to best continue the certification process.

Following established accreditation, certification and benchmarking guidelines, the BAP team and CBs have agreed on a set of rules to follow during this extraordinary situation, including guidelines for the movement and conduct of auditors when visiting BAP-certified facilities.

Click here to read the BAP announcement.

Feb. 20, 2020: Extensions Granted to BAP-Certified Facilities in China Impacted by COVID-19

The health and safety of our associates in China and around the world is a priority for the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) and its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program. The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has undoubtedly impacted the lives of millions of Chinese people and the ability to do business in China.

GAA is encouraged by the news that the outbreak of novel coronavirus appears to be stabilizing in China and the recovery effort is under way. However, the organization is sympathetic to the situation and understands that it will take time for people to get back to work and for business to get up and running again.

As a result, extensions are being granted to BAP-certified processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills in China that are due to be audited for annual re-certification in the near term or are due to submit corrective actions for non-conformances cited during a recent audit.

Click here to read the BAP announcement.

About GAA
The Global Aquaculture Alliance is an international, nonprofit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organization for aquaculture seafood.