JBS S.A. reported that between March and June, with the objective of ensuring the health and safety of its team members during the COVID-19 global pandemic, it invested more than $19 million in contingency health and safety measures, systems and processes at all of its facilities in Brazil.
Resources were allocated to dozens of actions that are part of the prevention and protection protocol of more than 130,000 team members at the production units, distribution centers, offices and other company premises in Brazil. During this period, to ensure that the measures are implemented and effective, JBS has been conducting periodic audits in its 135 production units, verifying each action item by item in its strict security protocol.
Between March and June, JBS also hired more than 10,000 professionals nationwide to take the place of team members who had been kept at home preventatively, with the objective of protecting those in the higher-risk group, such as pregnant women and those over 60. Part of this group also comprised team members in situations of greater vulnerability to COVID-19, including indigenous people and those under medical recommendation. Team members testing positive for COVID-19 are immediately given leave of absence and remain away from their posts until they have fully recovered. In all cases, the company’s health care team carries out permanent monitoring. Similarly, JBS engages in an active search among the staff for anyone who may have been in contact with the virus and their family members.
The company pointed out that it already monitors 100% of its team members on a daily basis – from the start of their working day through transportation to access to production units, including shift changes, intervals and meals, and until they return home. This is conducted by anamnesis, temperature measurement or laboratory consultation.
“The procedures and precautions adopted by JBS at the plants are capable of providing its team members with maximum protection and are comparable to those in place at several benchmark hospital institutions,” Dr. Adauto Castelo noted.
Examples of the measures adopted are:
- A 49% expansion of the bus fleet. To impose social distancing rules when transporting team members, JBS has expanded the number of buses serving the round trip from units throughout Brazil to more than 1,800 vehicles to transport team members who now occupy marked and fixed seats, with a distancing between every two seats. In addition, more than 2,000 digital thermometers have been purchased to take the temperature of the team members upon entering the bus and the plant; team members all also undergo anamnesis before accessing the vehicles.
- New personal protection equipment (PPE). Besides the uniforms already used under industry sanitary and operational protocols, all JBS plants have been equipped with new PPE such as acrylic face shield masks, disposable and cloth masks. The use of masks is 100% mandatory in all areas of the company. More than 180,000 face shields alone have been acquired in the last three months. In all, more than 1.2 million PPE units have been purchased. This equipment is used during the entire shift of the team members, while those on the production line also have physical protective barriers that guarantee physical and social isolation between them.
- Detergents and sanitizers. To ensure proper hand sanitization everywhere in the company, JBS purchased more than 150,000 liters of isopropyl alcohol gel for widely available, foot-operated dispensers at various easily accessible locations. Disinfection of the installations and buses has been intensified, with monthly consumption of more than 200,000 liters of disinfectant products.
- Free vaccination against H1N1 for 100% of team members. The health and safety departments at JBS have facilitated H1N1 vaccination of team members at all of its Brazilian facilities.
- Hiring health care professionals. The team of health care specialists at the production units stands at more than 630 -- up more than 40% compared to the number verified before the pandemic. An additional 192 professionals have been added to the team, including doctors, nurses and assistants for around-the-clock attendance to team members.
In addition to these measures, changes have also been made to the structure at the plants. Investments in equipment, facilities and new areas include:
- Creation of additional lunchrooms that allow for distancing between team members to avoid crowding;
- Additional external outpatient areas that are attached to plants and operate full time;
- Expansion of covered rest areas, such as tents and/or containers, with more distance between seats.
Communication about the safety and health care protocols in place at the JBS production units, as well as general information about COVID-19, has been intensified. At several points of contact and transit at each plant, there are informative notifications to increase awareness about the measures and attitudes required for preventing the disease at work as well as clarifications to enable team members to protect themselves and their families when at home and on rest days. The tools used include spots on the internal radio, videos, signposting and distancing alerts, the company noticeboard and the intranet, among others.
In addition to the investments of more than $19 million made internally in all of its plants in Brazil, JBS has announced the donation of approximately $77 million to the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil. The funds will be allocated on three fronts: health care, social action and science.
JBS said it is confident that all of these measures are effective in protecting against and controling COVID-19 at its facilities and in ensuring the supply and offering of the highest-quality products to its clients and consumers in Brazil and worldwide.
“This is a mission that cannot stop, since food production is one of the essential activities for the population in the context of the COVID-19 crisis,” the company added.