Our Response to COVID-19
Seaboard Foods embraces our important role as an essential business and recognizes the great responsibility we have to protect our employees while keeping our farms and plants operating to produce food for people around the world.
As part of Seaboard Foods’ efforts to continuously improve and adapt amid the pandemic, we continue to incorporate the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), local health departments, medical experts and feedback from our employees in our operations. The more information we have, the more we can do to prevent the spread of the virus.
Based on the guidance from these health experts and feedback we’ve received from our employees, we heightened our sanitation protocols, increased screening practices, and created COVID-specific health and employment benefits for the well-being of our employees. While we’re proud of the investments we’ve made so far, we know our work is not finished and we are committed to continuous improvement as we learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our community.
We are grateful for and commend the health care professionals, first responders and everyone around the world who is working diligently to help keep everyone safe and healthy, and all those joining us in ensuring food is on the table throughout our country and the world.
We are committed to providing high-quality, consistent pork products to our customers as they do their part to provide their communities with much-needed food. We understand the COVID-19 outbreak affected our customers around the world and we are committed to communicating with them openly and candidly about the challenges created by the pandemic, and what we’re doing to address them.
The health and well-being of our employees is our top priority. That's why we felt it important to put into place a comprehensive health, wellness, paid leave and support program for our employees in 2020.
Health & Safety
To help protect our employees and reduce potential transmission, we implemented the following comprehensive protocols and operational controls during the pandemic:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Obtained and provided millions of surgical-style face masks to all employees and required their use at the plant following CDC guidelines.
- Included masks in our essential personal protective equipment list.
- Implemented physical distancing dividers and markers throughout our plant’s common areas and installed protective systems like plexiglass barriers on select production line workstations and employee areas, such as the cafeteria.
- Added guides and dividers with distancing markers in main employee hallway.
- Increased the number of touch-free hand sanitizers in of all our operations, using thousands of gallons of sanitizer since the start of the pandemic.
- At the plant's main employee entrance, which has distancing markers, thermal scan temperature checks occur for all employees and we installed four additional clock in/out stations to reduce lines and congestion.
- Permanently expanded both the men’s and women’s locker rooms by 1,000 square feet each to accommodate 700 new lockers for employees to allow for greater social distancing.
Cleaning & Sanitation
- Sanitized the plant and equipment using anti-bacterial and anti-viral cleansers on a daily basis.
- Increased custodial services in employee commons areas and commonly touched surfaces to help maintain a healthy workplace.
- Designated employees to regularly clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, break rooms and bathrooms frequently.
- Evaluated and determined that the industrial-grade ventilation system provides a minimum of approximately 40 air changes per hour in all production areas and 10 to 15 in other areas.
- Opened temperature-taking stations in our plants for all employees and provided thermometers for employee monitoring in other parts of our operations.
- Screened all vendors and suppliers before allowing access to our locations to work.
- Ask employees who don't feel well to be assessed by health services or web-based medical services or to stay home and self-isolate.
Signage & Employee Updates
- Regularly posted educational signage in the languages that employees speak in the plant. During the height of the pandemic, proactively shared updates with employees each week about the number of confirmed cases at the plant to ensure transparency and allow employees to make informed decisions about their health.
Preventative & Personal Health
- Hired a full-time, onsite, experienced Nurse Care Manager who focuses on helping employees manage their personal health needs and coordinating with local health and medical professionals to help Seaboard Foods address and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Administered over 1,400 flu shots to employees and their families to improve overall health in our community to do our part to help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more broadly available, Seaboard Foods wants to be an important resource for our employees to learn and make decisions about getting the vaccine.
- Vaccines are a safe, effective way for us to protect our teammates, families and communities and we encourage our employees to get vaccinated. We understand getting vaccinated is a personal, medical decision.
- Seaboard Foods has hosted six on-site vaccination clinics at its Guymon, Oklahoma, pork processing plant in 2021. Its first clinic was successful providing vaccines to more than 850 employees.
- Our Nurse Care Manager and human resources team work with local health authorities in five states and several counties where our operations are located to assist in coordination of employees who want to voluntarily get vaccinated.
- We understand our employees may have questions about the vaccine, so we encourage them to examine the latest information from medical experts to learn more about how the federal government is working to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is as safe and effective as possible.
Paid Leave and Support Plan
To provide the support our employees need during the pandemic, we created a COVID-19 Leave Policy and Support Plan, which currently includes:
- Free COVID-19 testing at the Guymon processing plant.
- For eligible employees, paid leave up to five consecutive days of straight time wages starting the day of a medically documented positive test.
- Excused absences for up to five days for those employees recieving a medically directed quarantine letter.
- Additional health insurance coverage that provides 100% paid coverage for COVID-19 testing and other medically related diagnostic testing if not covered by public health services or the company health insurance plan.
- Prescription coverage flexibility if shortages or access to prescription drugs exist.
- Employee COVID Hotline to answer questions and get information.
Plant-Wide Employee Testing
Seaboard Foods conducted COVID-19 testing plant-wide for our pork processing plant employees in Guymon, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. This was an essential next step to build on our commitment to keeping our employees safe and to honor our promise to listen to our employees who have asked for broader testing. We partnered with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to ensure we had access to COVID-19 testing kits for our plant employees.
After the mass testing event and tests were limited, we continued to work with local health departments and local providers to ensure employees who wanted to to know their COVID-19 status could receive a test.
We now offer free COVID-19 testing at the Guymon plant for employees. They can come to the Nurse Care Manager's area or schedule a car-side test if they become symptomatic outside of their scheduled work shift.
Seaboard Foods is committed to supporting the communities in which we operate – and where our employees live and raise their families. We will continue to answer the call and provide support to our communities during these trying times.
Keeping our communities healthy and preventing the spread of the virus is a team effort. We all have a role to play. This means we must all continue to follow the guidance of medical doctors and local health departments -- at work and at home and everywhere in between.
While we are asking our employees to follow strict practices at work, we are also asking them when they aren't at work to follow CDC and health department guidelines. Controlling the spread of COVID-19 is a community effort, and we kindly ask those in our communities to join us in following the current CDC and local health department guidelines.
With the support of local businesses, we provided pork meals to health care professionals and first responders in the summer of 2020, including to the health department workers who conducted testing in our communities. We have also donated meals to local food banks and provided meals to our employees from local restaurants.
In 2020, we donated pork for 821,000 meals to local food pantries and national relief organizations, such as Operation BBQ Relief to support its COVID-19 Relief efforts.
We have also sourced and donated much-needed personal protective equipment to local hospitals and medical providers so they can continue to safely provide essential healthcare services.
* Regular monitoring is conducted to adjust to changing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of our employees.