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Staying Safe: Our COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan

Categories: Our Company

Domtar’s products are as essential as ever, with our pulp, paper and personal care products playing a critical role for families, patients and caregivers during the current pandemic. We’ve developed a COVID-19 exposure control plan to ensure these products remain available while protecting our employees and communities.

Our priority, as always but especially now, is the safety of our colleagues and neighbors. As we continue making, converting, packing and delivering our products, we’ve taken important steps to create an exposure control plan that helps reduce risk.

“We have always taken pride in working safely together and caring for our colleagues,” says Larry Warren, senior director of safety for our pulp and paper sites. “But this health crisis has brought even greater emphasis on safety and health, as well as new strategies to overcome this particular challenge.”

Our COVID-19 Exposure Control Plan

We are closely monitoring the evolving guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to avoid spreading coronavirus. Employees are staying home if they or their family members exhibit any coronavirus-related symptoms.

Our exposure control plan is in place at each of our facilities. We are cleaning and sanitizing worksites, including equipment and breakrooms, and maintaining all necessary supplies for safety and health, such as face masks. At some facilities, employees have their temperature checked before entering, while maintaining physical distance from one another.

At our Ashdown Mill, safety leaders shared what they learned while rolling out our exposure control plan.

“We have three different brands of thermometers that all function a little differently,” says Jason Young, safety manager at the Ashdown Mill. “We had to make sure everyone performing temperature checks is comfortable with the equipment we have.”

Ambient temperatures also affect the readings in some circumstances, Young says, so teams are learning to account for outside temperatures or air conditioning in vehicles.

Our Windsor, Quebec, mill, which was recently named one of Canada’s safest facilities by Pulp & Paper Canada, has expanded its exposure control plan to include additional safety measures, such as scheduling crews in split shifts, placing a shield in front of administrative assistants’ desks and adding hand-sanitizer stations at all external doors.

At all Domtar facilities, we are limiting and screening visitors, revising daily meeting formats and using “no contact” receiving and shipping methods.

Domtar Personal Care facilities across North America and Europe have asked employees to practice physical distancing and, in some cases, have divided facilities into separate work areas so that smaller groups of employees can use different entrances, breakrooms and restrooms.

Kirk Bagnal, global director of safety, environment and health for Domtar Personal Care, says he and others learned a lot from colleagues in Spain, who were dealing with the virus’ spread a few weeks before our manufacturing plants in North America.

“They were unfortunate pioneers,” Bagnal says, “but we all benefited from what they learned because of their willingness to share about tactics that have worked in keeping employees safe.”

Bagnal praised the creative communication methods adopted by facility leaders, such as replacing regular town hall–style meetings with smaller gatherings and using headsets so coworkers can talk to one another while maintaining a safe distance.

Ultimately, he says, the exposure control plan works because of a positive attitude, not just in Personal Care, but across all of Domtar: “We have essential people at an essential time doing essential work.”