By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
On August 19, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a detailed checklist for human and animal food manufacturers to consider when continuing, resuming or reevaluating operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stated purpose of the new guidance document is “for FDA-regulated human and animal food operations to use when assessing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when re-starting operations after a shut down or when reassessing operations because of changes due to the COVID-19 public health emergency caused by the virus SARS-CoV.”
The checklist is intended to guide employers who grow, harvest, pack, manufacture, process or hold human and animal food regulated by FDA, and covers nearly every (if not every) topic related to COVID-19 including:
- Employee health screenings;
- Operation configuration for social distancing;
- Recommended engineering controls (e.g., physical barriers and adequate ventilation);
- Communication and training;
- Coordination with public health officials;
- Exposure scenarios and return-to-work criteria;
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- Flexible sick leave policies;
- Cleaning/disinfecting; and
- PPE and face coverings.
The checklist also includes some more topics somewhat unique to the food industry, such as:
- Shared/communal housing;
- Recommendations for critical infrastructure workers;
- Social distancing configurations for harvesting and along production lines; and
- Process Safety Management considerations for facilities with ammonia refrigeration systems that may have been shut down.
Importantly, and unlike other guidance, the checklist includes information on food safety. Namely, it provides questions intended to help employers consider potential impacts of changes, such as those to personnel, suppliers, and incoming ingredients, on their food safety or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan, as well as current good manufacturing practices. Indeed, one question focuses on whether employers are temporarily suspending onsite audits of their suppliers, and if so, what other verification activities must be implemented to ensure incoming ingredients are safe. The question points employers to FDA’s Temporary Policy Regarding Preventive Controls and FSVP Food Supplier Verification Onsite Audit Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (Updated June 2020).
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For additional resources on issues related to COVID-19, please visit Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Resource Page for an extensive index of frequently asked questions with our answers about HR, employment law, and OSHA regulatory related developments and guidance, as well as COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting flow charts.
Likewise, subscribe to our Employer Defense Report blog and OSHA Defense Report blog for regular updates about the Labor and Employment Law or OSHA implications of COVID-19 in the workplace. Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force is monitoring federal, state, and local developments closely and is continuously updating these blogs and the FAQ page with the latest news and resources for employers.