GAA develops COVID-19 guidelines for seafood processors
In July, the Global Aquaculture Alliance released a guidance document for aquaculture facilities to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, under its Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) third-party certification program.
The 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," according to the organization.
"This is also the most effective way to reduce the risk of contamination of food products or packaging,” the introduction to the guidance document states. “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.”
The majority of the guidelines are focused on reducing transmission between employees and are in line with guidelines that major health authorities have relayed to the general public over the past several months.
GAA recommends that all employees be trained in identification of symptoms, implementation of all policies that are developed to reduce exposure, and in job-specific strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Facilities are urged to conduct an employee COVID-19 contamination workplace hazard risk assessment for all onsite facility employees, based on proximity, contact, and common space requirements for each position. GAA also recommends those facilities appoint one team member – and a back-up – to visually examine employees prior to entering the facility for symptoms via a touchless thermometer.
The GAA recommends social distancing practices including staggering breaks and spending as much time as possible in outdoor spaces to reduce risk of transmission, as well as wearing personal protective equipment like masks, face shields, and gloves where they are appropriate.
A complimentary COVID-19 guidance poster can be found online for printing and sharing. GAA said it defers to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for personal protective equipment suggestions.
To avoid transmission of COVID-19 through aerosols, GAA claims that enhanced ventilation in the workplace and common areas is important to reduce the spread of the virus.
“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,” reads the report.
In addition to those guidelines, the GAA emphasized the need for increased sanitation across the board, pushing for regular sanitation of shared workspaces, increasing employee access to cleaning products, and installing touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers throughout facilities.
Photo courtesy of Stockfour/Shutterstock