Ashbern Farms are passionate about growing delicious fresh strawberries for Queenslanders all year round, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brendon Hoyle, owner of Ashbern Farms, said they are taking a positive and proactive approach to adapting to the COVID-19 environment to help safeguard staff and their business. This includes implementing a COVID safe workplace health management plan on their farms in Glasshouse Mountains and Stanthorpe.
“Some of the changes we’ve made are a simple hand wash station we’ve built between the car park and the farm to ensure all employees who arrive on site wash their hands before entering the farm,” said Brendon.
“Meal breaks are taken in the car park where employees have to re-enter the farm through the wash stations after their break.”
Ashbern Farms have also made changes in their packing facility.
“We have strict social distancing requirements and face masks are worn by all employees and visitors in the packing facility,” said Brendon.
“Workers who commute together in one car, work together on the packing line and lunch together. We have three shifts of meal breaks separating workers.
“Cleaning and disinfecting procedures are carried out at the start and finish of day, and after each meal break.”
Brendon said record keeping is an essential part of their COVID safe plan.
“On arrival at work we do a general health check of every employee, take worker disclosure statements and movement history prior to starting work on-farm,” he said.
“We also keep records of employees commuting to work together and living together.”
While there have been some challenges, the response from Ashbern Farms’ workers has been positive.
“These new processes and practices require constant supervision and monitoring to ensure they are effective, which takes time and a mindset change,” Brendon said.
“We’re really pleased that the processes we’ve implemented are working well.
“Our employees’ understanding of the importance of our new COVID-19 processes and practices has been great.”
If you employ seasonal workers, (including non-permanent, temporary visa holders and backpackers) it is mandatory to have a workplace health management plan. This applies to all agribusinesses, commercial fishing and processing businesses and agriculture labour hire companies.
You can find the latest information on COVID-19 requirements for agribusinesses here.