The pork processing facility temporarily suspended harvest operations on April 22 to test its team members for COVID-19.
According to a Tyson statement, it has partnered with Matrix Medical Network, a medical clinical services company, to establish an onsite clinic to provide team members with enhanced care. This includes diagnostic (PCR) testing for COVID-19, daily clinical screenings, access to nurse practitioners and employee education and support for personal health goals or concerns.
“Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their loved ones and our communities,” said Tom Hart, plant manager of Tyson’s Waterloo facility. “We appreciate the collaboration and support of Black Hawk County health officials, Mayor Hart and Sheriff Thompson as we tested team members and took proactive steps to complement our existing prevention efforts, working with epidemiologists and other experts.”
The reopening of the facility followed a tour of the plant by Black Hawk County health officials, Waterloo Mayor Quinten Hart, Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson, UFCW Local 431 President Bob Waters and other local business.
“I had the chance to tour the Tyson plant in Waterloo and see the additional steps taken to keep the workers safe during these trying and unknown times,” said Bob Waters, president, UFCW Local 431. “Tyson has gone above and beyond to keep their employees safe and I support the reopening of the facility. This pork plant and all of the measures they’ve put in place are an example of how to effectively set up a safe work environment for the employees.”
All team members returning to work have been tested for coronavirus, and any team member who has tested positive will remain on sick leave until released by health officials to return to work. Team members who have not been tested will be unable to return to work and all new hires will be tested prior to starting work.
While production was suspended, Tyson performed an additional deep clean and sanitisation of the entire facility.
Returning team members will see the changes made to promote social distancing and protective measures that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance. These include:
- Wellness health screening of all team members each time they arrive at the facility, checking for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath in addition to continuing use of the infrared thermometers to check temperature.
- The supply of protective facial coverings to every team member and requiring they are worn.
- The required use of face shields for team members where workstation barriers cannot physically be implemented.
- Additional dedicated social distance monitors stationed throughout the facility during all shifts to help ensure team members adhere to safety protocols and social distancing requirements.