Protect your farm and business continuity with Achmea’s COVID-19 precautions for farmers
As we monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Australia and internationally, Achmea remains true to its vision of protecting agricultural communities. Now more so than ever, Australian families are relying on local produce for their families.
Achmea’s priority as Australia’s specialist farm insurer is to protect our people, clients and communities so our farmers can continue to produce fresh food and fibre for Australian families and support the Australian economy through these difficult times.
The information in this article is general advice* only and we would welcome your suggestions and improvements to improve the quality of our COVID-19 precautions for farmers. It is about working together to reduce the risks and support each other’s resilience. Please email us at [email protected] with your feedback.
Precautions you can take to minimise the risk of COVID-19 impacting your people, farm and business continuity
Take the time to review and adjust standard operating procedures to help minimise the risk of COVID-19 impacting your farm.
1. Prioritise everyone’s health and safety
• If you or your staff are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath), please seek medical attention.
• Anyone with symptoms should following medical advice, self-isolate and refrain from returning to work until you have no symptoms.
• Discuss what you expect from employees, suppliers and visitors and how they can lower the risk of contamination.
• Purchase a high-quality infra-red thermometer for your farm and home.
• If you have questions, the Coronavirus Health Information Line currently operates 24/7 on 1800 020 080.
• If you have difficulty breathing and need urgent medical help, call 000.
• Practice good hygiene and social-distancing.
• Follow the latest official advice on avoiding public gatherings and visits to the most vulnerable, including a 14-day self-isolation period if returning from overseas.
• Keep bathrooms, kitchens and other critical areas as clean as possible.
2. Reinforce basic good hygiene
Follow the advice from the World Health Organisation and encourage your staff to:
• Introduce safe greeting practices – a wave, a nod, a bow but no handshaking or kissing.
• Regularly and thoroughly clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
• Note that rubber gloves can still pick up COVID-19 contamination. Wash and change gloves frequently.
• Maintain social distancing which is at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• Practice respiratory hygiene by covering their mouth and nose with a bent elbow, or tissue when they cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the tissue immediately.
• If employees need to move to other critical areas, let them wash hands before and if required, it may be appropriate to change clothes.
• Make sure your employees can wash or disinfect their hands frequently in multiple areas.
Communicate with all visitors prior to them visiting your farm, nursery and offices, including fixed-term employees, contractors and suppliers as well as other visitors, by asking three simple yes/no questions:
1. Do you have any symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath?
2. Have you recently travelled internationally?
3. Have you been in recent close contact with anyone who has travelled internationally and has the symptoms listed above?
Consider printing off a simple check list for staff and employees to check every day before going on site.
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it may be your safest option to send your staff home and or reschedule the appointment to when it is safe to do so.
• Limit face-to-face meetings to critical business meetings only.
• Test and use online platforms and video conferencing (considering privacy precautions) where appropriate, even if employees are on farm or in the nursery. This can help limit staff interaction and possible infection.
• Don’t let employees use the same equipment and/or have it disinfected after every use (laptops, headsets and also any coffee machines).
• Limit access to the farm or nursery to critical staff only, consider who really needs to be present.
• Limit staff gatherings by splitting teams into groups or have staff covering different areas of the farm.
• Take the time to roster coffee breaks and lunch in shifts.
• Consider introducing shift work if appropriate.
• If an employee shows mild symptoms but is a critical part of your business, then take extra precautions so you reduce the risk of them infecting others. Consider isolating them from the rest of your staff.
5. Prepare a Business Continuity Plan
Prepare an emergency plan where most critical processes on the farm are mentioned and how continuity can be guaranteed.
Write down critical information and determine who has access to this information.
Examples are telephone numbers, contacts, access codes, authorisations and back-ups.
Document who can replace employees in critical places or with critical tasks.
• Who can replace who?
• Who is in charge and who organises a crisis meeting?
• Who operates the climate computer / process computers?
• Who is managing different aspects of the farming operation?
• Who is in charge of lighting?
• Extend this list with your own specific tasks as they relate to your operations.
Let them work in separate rooms or introduce time shifts.
What to do if employees do get sick?
• Where and how to register?
• Note mobile numbers, emergency contact persons and vendor contact details.
Pay attention to paperwork, identity cards, legal requirements, etc.
• Where can I find replacement?
• What skills / quality / knowledge is required? Have this clearly documented.
• Who takes care of all legal requirements?
Redirect different tasks when a lot of new employees are hired.
• What tasks can be done by other employees?
• Which tasks have priority?
What to do if multiple people / a large group of employees are infected?
Determine the priority of tasks. Which have highest priority? Which tasks can be done later?
Short term continuity (today / now)
• What part is to be harvested?
• What sections have priority (depending on client, crop phase, etc.)?
• What tasks can wait?
• Extend the list with your tasks that influence daily continuity
Medium term continuity (>week)
• Add other tasks to this list that impacts continuity
Long term continuity (> month)
• Repairs and maintenance
• Add other tasks to this list that impacts continuity
Provide your feedback and send your suggestions on Achmea’s COVID-19 precautions for farmers by emailing us at [email protected]
Note, Achmea’s COVID-19 precautions for farmers article is sourced by Hagelunie (part of the Achmea Group) from parties including sector representative Glastuinbouw Nederland, Dutch research institute WUR, Dutch health advisors Stigas, and official authorities in The Netherlands like RIVM and government.
Insurance issued by Achmea Schadeverzekeringen N.V. (Achmea) ABN 86 158 237 702 AFSL 433984
Achmea Australia does not warrant that the information contained herein is accurate, reliable, complete or up to date, and, to the fullest extent permitted by law, disclaims all liability of Achmea Australia and its Associates for any loss or damage suffered by any person by reason of the use by that person of, or their reliance on, any information contained in this document or any error or defect in on this document, whether arising from the negligence of Achmea Australia or its Associates or otherwise.