In light of the challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) is encouraging members to look at their businesses and develop a contingency plan to ensure the welfare of their stock is not compromised if family or staff become unwell.
Developing a contingency plan will provide a clear, documented emergency plan which will highlight potential risks and a list of key contacts. Having a plan in place will help members to prepare for the unexpected and ensure that health and welfare standards are maintained by all stakeholders that are part of the ‘whole chain’ assurance scheme.
Kathryn Kerr, Head of Brands Integrity at QMS commented: “With the winter months approaching, we encourage our members to update or develop their contingency plans to ensure their business has a clear checklist to help their families and staff in the event of COVID-19 affecting the business.”
QMS introduced a remote assessment tool in April 2020 as part of their five-point plan for assurance assessments during COVID-19. As restrictions eased, physical assessments were re-introduced in early July and are now default for the assessment process.
To ensure the safety of both assessors and members, a COVID-19 risk assessment is conducted prior to every assessment to determine if there are any vulnerabilities that could increase risk to the member or assessor if a physical assessment took place.
Ms Kerr adds: “Strict protocol is followed during any physical assessment with assessors wearing appropriate PPE and adhering to physical distancing rules.
“The option for remote assessing is still very much available for those members that are unable to accommodate a physical assessment due to COVID-19 restrictions.”
Where a member is categorised as vulnerable and identified as requiring a physical assessment, the member can choose to have a representative present during the assessment to act on their behalf. Where this is not possible, the assessors will refer the member to Lloyds Register for discussion with QMS.
Ms Kerr concludes: “Members of the assurance schemes have adapted very well during these uncertain times. Moving forward, we are hoping that the remote tools can continue to be used to reduce the amount of time required on site and allow the focus to be aimed at the physical elements of the assessments.”
A contingency plan template can be found on the Quality Meat Scotland website www.qmscotland.co.uk under the respective assurance scheme.