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Tyson Foods describes new plant role: Social Distancing Monitor

1 June 2020, at 4:00am

Tyson Foods and other meat processing companies are under intense scrutiny in the US and other parts of the world as their plant workers have been hit hard by COVID-19. Tyson shares a new role designed to monitor the work environment.

My name is Maddie Nguyen, and I am a Food Safety and Quality Control (FSQA) technician at the Tyson Foods Chick-N-Quick facility in Rogers, Arkansas. As part of the FSQA department, my role serves multiple functions on and off the production floor, including conducting routine FSQA related checks throughout the facility. Recently, my role has been expanded to include a new title: Social Distancing Monitor.

Social Distancing Monitors are now in place across most of our Tyson Foods plants and facilities. Our job is to screen and audit areas within our facilities to ensure our team members are following social distancing protocols as well as wearing their facial coverings properly. We work closely with our complex safety managers.

Social distancing is being practiced around the world and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), social distancing can help prevent the virus’s spread. Wearing facial coverings also helps prevent transmission as the virus can spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

These practices sound simple, but in practice they sometimes aren’t.

Before COVID-19, people at our facility would naturally congregate in break rooms and lunchrooms, locker rooms, hallways and other common areas. These were opportunities to interact with their co-workers, socialize and connect. As human beings, these connections are important and natural to our work environments.

In accordance with CDC and OSHA social distancing guidelines, we are implementing social distancing practices where possible and have been educating our team members on how to observe them. We began by adding physical barriers – plexiglass shields we installed on the production floor and in common areas. We also set up various markers throughout the facility so people could more easily see the six-foot distances. Our education efforts include both at-work and at-home restrictions.

Part of my job is also making sure people wear their face coverings properly, which includes making sure the facial coverings fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face and over the nose, are secured with ties or ear loops, and allow for breathing without restriction.

Everyone I encounter during my daily walk-arounds appreciates the nod of reassurance I give them letting them know they are doing everything right.