Hog slaughter operations resumed on Thursday at Red Deer’s Olymel plant, which was closed for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Three employee deaths resulted from the latest outbreak. (Advocate file photo).

Hog slaughter operations resumed on Thursday at Red Deer’s Olymel plant, which was closed for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Three employee deaths resulted from the latest outbreak. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer’s Olymel plant reopens

Workers begin to return after 14-day closure due to COVID-19 outbreak

Many Olymel workers returned to their jobs on Thursday morning as slaughter operations geared up at the hog processing plant that had been closed for two weeks to curb COVID-19 spread.

Cutting room operations will start up on Friday.

Reopening can occur because Olymel management and the regulators are satisfied that employees can return to the plant safely, the company said in a statement.

Full plant inspections by experts from Alberta Health Services, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and Environmental Public Health (EPH) were done on Monday and Wednesday.

“AHS made several recommendations aimed at adjusting and reinforcing certain measures that were already in place and gave the green light to gradually resume operations,” the company says.

Worker groups at Olymel began being called in for training sessions on Wednesday.

These sessions covered all implemented health measures, Olymel said in a release, adding, changes were made to some of them, and an action plan was developed for reopening.

Additional staff has already been assigned to monitor and enforce these measures. The company states that social distancing protocols have been further adjusted and enhanced, “in particular through the addition of physical space.”

Health and safety meetings between management and union representatives are scheduled daily.

Alberta Health Services has warned that the coronavirus is still spreading and that everyone is at risk of contracting it, whether in the community or otherwise. “Accordingly, they recommend the utmost vigilance.”

Although 1,370 employees at the Red Deer plant have been tested since January 1, 2021, AHS experts will be on site when operations resume and will offer rapid testing to anyone who has not tested positive and wishes to be tested.

The company pledges to continue working with AHS and OHS in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

“Olymel management is pleased to confirm that most of the employees who have had COVID-19 since the outbreak began have recovered.” The company states that it wishes a speedy recovery to those still affected.

For the three employees who have died after testing positive for COVID-19, the company offers “deepest condolences to their families, friends, and coworkers, and remains available to help them through this trying time.”

Olymel stated that it took advantage of the plant closure to update and reinforce the many health and safety measures that were already in place at the plant, working with a task force that Alberta Health Services formed to support the company in planning a safe gradual reopening.

Olymel’s plant supply teams are in contact with Alberta hog farmers to plan the gradual resumption of deliveries.

“Since the temporary closure of the Red Deer plant, Olymel had made the necessary decisions to manage the flow of pigs from its own farms in order to facilitate a return to normal when operations resumed.”



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Construction is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the game winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender David Rittich (33) in overtime NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Canada's Evelyne Viens celebrates scoring against Wales during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Potts/PA via AP
Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

Erickson Gallardo of Canada's Toronto FC and his teammates celebrate after Andres Mosquera of Mexico's Leon scored an own goal during their Concacaf Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRES/AP/Mario Armas
Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Most Read