Home News Fear grips staff at Beefmaster Kimberley after positive tests

Fear grips staff at Beefmaster Kimberley after positive tests

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The workers downed tools on Wednesday morning and demanded that the premises be closed, while the employer and unions monitored the process of decontamination, as well as screening and testing.

The workers downed tools on Wednesday morning and demanded that the premises be closed after positive tests. Picture: Supplied

PANIC gripped many workers at Beefmaster in Kimberley on Wednesday, with some reduced to tears, after two employees tested positive for Covid-19.

The workers downed tools on Wednesday morning and demanded that the premises be closed, while the employer and unions monitored the process of decontamination, as well as screening and testing.

The workers were apparently later sent home after an agreement was reached with Cosatu that operations would be shut down while Covid-19 procedures and protocols were followed.

The workers are expected to start counselling sessions on Friday, while work in groups is expected to resume from next week.

One of the two employees who tested positive for Covid-19 apparently received his results on the weekend while the other received his results on Wednesday. 

Both employees reportedly work on the same shift. According to workers, the other shift was never formally informed of the positive cases.

Beefmaster Group CEO Louw van Reenen said in response to media enquiries that the group complied with all Covid-19 health and safety regulations and had taken stringent preventative measures to ensure the safety of staff. 

“All necessary protocols have been implemented and followed since the start of lockdown as per guidelines from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Department of Health (eg providing employees with general precautionary protective measures such as disinfectants, masks, checking daily measurements and ensuring adherence to social distancing),” Van Reenen said in a statement.

“We have also implemented several other measures to keep our employees safe, as per our Beefmaster Covid-19 Risk Adjusted Workplace Plan, which focuses on the risks associated with the Covid-19 outbreak and the management and mitigation of these risks to protect employees. 

“Furthermore, we are making every effort to keep our staff informed with posters and making information widely accessible. We continue to ensure ongoing training on the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff.”

Van Reenen added that, as of Wednesday, two Beefmaster Group employees who work at the Beefmaster Kimberley meat processing facility had tested positive for Covid-19 and were currently self-isolating. 

“All staff were informed of the first case when we received the results on July 6, and we were notified of the second positive case on Wednesday, following which we informed staff. All staff who work closely with the staff members were monitored for symptoms, and those who have been in close contact are in self-isolation. Thus far two employees have tested negative for Covid-19.”

Van Reenen pointed out that the group’s adherence to food and safety management protocols dictated that the company decontaminate, sanitise and thoroughly cleanse all work areas and surfaces on a daily basis between shifts. 

“The Department of Labour is satisfied that our procedure meets the requirements for a safe workplace and all employees are trained on this protocol. However, in this instance, and as an additional precautionary measure, we have decided to close the plant for the next two days to disinfect it further.”

Cosatu meanwhile expressed its satisfaction with the outcome of the engagements with the employer after the federation was approached by the workers.

Cosatu provincial secretary Orapeleng Moraladi said they reached an agreement with the employer for all the workers who had come into close contact with those employees who had tested positive to go into self-isolation.

According to Moraladi, the employer agreed that the Department of Labour would visit the premises regularly to ensure that Covid-19 health and safety regulations were adhered to.