Prioritizing Health and Safety during COVID-19
Varon Blackburn, Social Distancing Officer and Human Resources Director
It’s no secret that agriculture is essential to our everyday lives and livelihoods. But the impact of COVID-19 has exposed just how essential our agricultural workforce is to maintain a safe and reliable supply chain. One that keeps food on grocery store shelves, restaurants stocked, and kitchen refrigerators full.
At our farm, we’ve valued the well-being of our team above all else. But during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve stepped up our health and safety measures in a big way.
"We value our team. Their health reflects the health of Threemile as an operation."Varon Blackburn, Social Distancing Officer and Human Resources Director
In March, Threemile CEO Marty Myers created a “Social Distancing Officer” role on the farm, in accordance with Governor Kate Brown’s executive order outlining new operating requirements for businesses. I’ve been proud to take on this role as part of my work during COVID-19. As Social Distancing Officer, and with support and partnership from the entire Threemile team, we’ve worked to educate, monitor, and facilitate safety practices during this time.
Since the outset of the pandemic’s impact on our region, we have implemented the following protocols to comply with state and federal regulation, as well as adhere to our own internal rigorous health and safety standards. New practices include:
- All employees have access to additional paid sick leave that goes above and beyond state requirements
- We conduct temperature checks for all employees at the beginning of each shift
- Employees receive masks every day and are required to wear them
- We conduct trainings on social distancing practices, and discuss how to successfully social distance in different social and work situations
- Employees have staggered lunch and break periods to reduce the amount of team members in a common area or meal area at any given time
- We have increased break area space to allow for easier social distancing during lunch and break periods
- Employees who travel the farm on vehicles ride alone, and vehicles are sanitized between each use
- Shared tools or machinery are cleaned with disinfectant solution before and after use.
- Any employee who feels ill, or has been in contact with someone who is ill, is required to stay home
Preventing COVID-19 infection is the top focus of these new practices, but we’ve also implemented a plan to respond to a positive diagnosis among our team swiftly and effectively. Communication is at the heart of this plan, including a system of contact tracing and notification of potential exposure, followed by adherence to quarantine and return-to-work guidelines defined by the Centers for Disease Control.
We value our team. Their health reflects the health of Threemile as an operation. We know that a safe work environment is critical to our team’s physical and emotional well-being. And we know that we need to stay vigilant, stay prepared, and stay healthy in order to keep providing high-quality sustainable food for our communities.
To all of our essential team members – thank you. We value you and are working hard to keep you healthy.