Workplace screening success stories
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- Bharat Masrani, TD Bank Group
- Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar
- Simon Gagné, Sobeys Inc.
- Dr. Graham Sher, Canadian Blood Services
- Don Lindsay, Teck Resources Limited
Bharat Masrani, TD Bank Group
Like so many frontline and essential employees, thousands of TD colleagues have come to work in person at TD locations during the pandemic to provide essential financial services to the families, businesses and economies that rely on us. Throughout this time, the health and safety of our colleagues, customers and communities have been at the forefront, and we have adapted and expanded our measures in line with guidance from public health officials and our own Chief Medical Director.
Rapid testing is one of several tools that can support a safer work environment and help give confidence to employees who need to come to work in person. After completing a successful rapid testing pilot program, we are pleased to be working with the Government of Canada to share the outcomes of our program, inform best practices and expand rapid testing for colleagues across more TD locations.
I'm incredibly proud of the resilience and compassion colleagues across TD have demonstrated throughout the pandemic, going the extra mile to deliver when our communities and economies needed us most. While we are not out of the woods yet, in the coming months widespread vaccinations and continued public health measures should allow our economies to reopen and recover. In the meantime, rapid testing at-scale will help make workplaces safer, help prevent the spread of the virus and ultimately promote a faster and safer recovery.
Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar
As business leaders we have a responsibility to keep our employees safe at work, as well as a responsibility to support the communities we operate within. If our communities are safe, our employees are safe, and that creates a positive working environment which drives better results for all. Balancing the needs of employees, shareholders and customers is a key philosophy we follow in running our business at Linamar. As such, it was an easy decision for us to implement rapid testing in our facilities to ensure the safety of our people and our community.
Infected people are most contagious in the 1-3 days before they start to show symptoms. This makes testing an absolutely critical element in containing the spread of the virus. Thanks to the provision of the testing kits by our government, we were able to implement twice per week testing of each of our employees in our core Guelph plants, some 9,000 people, with very little cost or disruption to our people or production.
In Ontario, the tests can be self administered under the supervision of our own people, a medical professional is not required. The test is a mid-nasal swab, making it a simple and comfortable test. The peace of mind to our people that they are Covid-free is invaluable to them and their loved ones. And knowing we are helping to identify pre-symptomatic people to contain the spread of the virus is invaluable to us and our communities.
There is only one answer to end this pandemic, and that is testing and vaccination. We as business leaders must be doing everything we can to facilitate both if we want to get back to normal operations.
Simon Gagné, Sobeys Inc.
Since day one of the pandemic, the health and safety of our teammates and our customers has been our top priority. As Canada's second largest grocery retailer, Empire was eager to take advantage of the opportunity to add additional screening measures with rapid antigen detection testing (RADT) to our COVID-19 safety plans in our Distribution Centres and Customer Fulfillment Centres, and in three pharmacy/grocery stores.
The wellbeing of our 127,000 teammates and the communities we serve across Canada is always at the top of my mind because as an essential service, the doors to our more than 1,500 grocery stores and our various grocery e-commerce home delivery services have been open throughout the entirety of the pandemic. In partnership with our franchisee partners, we operate more than 1,500 grocery stores like Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Farm Boy, Thrifty Foods and Voilà. We also operate more than 32 Distribution Centres and Customer Fulfilment Centres.
In addition to investing in extra safety measures, we also established a national vaccination program in our pharmacies and launched lockdown bonuses for our corporate teammates. And, we continue to advocate for our essential front-line workers to get a priority spot in the line for vaccines.
We can't wipe out this terrible disease with a single measure-it takes collective, sustained effort, and testing is one the best tools we have.
Setting up our rapid testing pilot program was straightforward-it took about three weeks of planning to establish locations and get the word out. Our government partners provided the necessary documentation and guidance. I can tell you that already we're glad we did it.
This added layer of screening complementing our existing safety protocols is critical to preventing COVID-19 from spreading undetected in the workplace. We hope others will also consider taking the opportunity to implement rapid testing. It's a quick swab with a significant impact.
Dr. Graham Sher, Canadian Blood Services
With support from Health Canada, we have been able to implement a voluntary rapid COVID-19 screening program for our employees. With an intent to implement in many sites across all provinces in Canada, our Brampton and Calgary sites were chosen as inaugural sites because both play a critical role in our operations and in the provision of essential life-saving products and services to Canadian patients. The program has been running since the end of March and we continue to onboard new sites every 1-2 weeks.
The ease of implementation of the rapid testing program is allowing us to provide an added layer of protection for our workforce who are required to work onsite during the pandemic. It supplements existing safety measures such as wellness screening on entry, mandatory masking, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning. Employees who choose to participate in the rapid screening program perform a self-nasal swab twice a week at a designated screening station onsite.
We've taken a 'swab and go' approach and employees return to work immediately following their swab, which only takes a few minutes. Employees are only notified if their screen is positive. No news is good news!
COVID-19 rapid screening is a new tool in Canadian Blood Services safety measures toolkit to limit transmission of COVID-19 and keep employees and our environments safe to ensure our important work continues uninterrupted.
Don Lindsay, Teck Resources Limited
Teck Resources was very pleased to receive over 70,000 rapid antigen screening tests from the Province of British Columbia in order to help protect its workplaces and the communities in which it operates. Teck knows that the evidence supports rapid testing as another measure to help find COVID-19 cases and break the chains of transmission. Teck worked closely with the BC Government to ensure that all operational and reporting requirements were met.
We began testing on April 7 at one of our major construction projects in Vancouver. They deliberately started slowly with smaller numbers to ensure that all our quality control measures, registration process and reporting pathways were working as intended. A week later on April 15 they have increased testing volume to more than 125 tests a day. Within days, the rapid antigen test began to identify non-negative results. The individuals were safely removed from the site, isolated and received confirmatory PCR testing. Through this process the testing did identify a number of individuals who had been asymptomatic but were infected with COVID-19.
This information empowered Teck to identify key patterns and take some important strategic steps. For example, they were able to identify certain work teams where the transmission was higher, and implemented a local "circuit break". As more cases were identified, they were able to take a broader approach to reduce the number of people on the worksite.
The results of the rapid tests became a chance for reflection and led to doing a deeper dive on opportunities to improve the safety of select parts of the operation such as increasing ventilation and cleaning. It also became an excellent educational opportunity to reinforce physical distancing, use of KN95 respirators and being clean shaven when using the respirators. Interest in testing from those on the worksite grew as they saw an opportunity to take another step to keep themselves, their co-workers, their families and their communities safe.
Teck has now expanded asymptomatic rapid antigen testing to other BC sites using the tests provided by Health Canada and in close collaboration with the BC government. Implementing rapid workplace screening with the support of Health Canada builds on our existing extensive COVID-19 protocols and is an effective new layer of protection to help keep our workers and communities safe and healthy. The screening tests take only minutes to administer and deliver results, and were easily incorporated alongside existing prevention measures.
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