By Jon Jirikovec, Cultivation Superintendent at Next Big Crop
Cultivation facility health and safety SOPs that protect your team, your customers and anyone involved with your operation are critical, now more so than ever as we collectively handle the spread and fallout of the new coronavirus.
Taking care of your workers means more than just meeting regulatory safety standards; it means having the right protocols and best practices in place so your employees stay healthy—and stay home when they’re not.
Here are some tips to promote cultivation facility health and safety:
Whether in a group setting or on a more individual basis, it’s important to take your team’s temperature—probably not literally at the same time—when staff members arrive for the workday.
If someone isn’t feeling well, you want to know as soon as possible, because it’s unlikely they will be able to keep it to themselves. More or less everyone on your team comes into contact with coworkers and most of them have some interaction with your product.
Looking after the well-being of your team isn’t a distraction, it’s a priority. Yes, you’re also running a business, but that won’t be true for long if you’re not taking care of the people making that possible.
Our Compliance Manager Ann Stinn puts it this way: “I feel like the fact that I have their health and safety at the forefront of my mind helps me to prioritize where I’m going.”
Germs are a given, but your handling of them is not. Doorknobs and other high-touch surfaces such as keyboards, systems control panels, handheld scanners and light switches, among others, should be cleaned frequently as part of efforts to increase overall cleanliness across the facility.
Chlorine dioxide (CLO2) is a powerful disinfectant, and should be an essential part of your maintenance tool kit. At Next Big Crop, we recommend ProKure V, an EPA-registered, hospital-grade CLO2 disinfectant for prevention, control and removal of harmful surface pathogens and bacteria.
Make gloves and masks available to anyone handling your plants or working in an area of your facility where they might be breathing in particulate matter.
Gloves and masks can be helpful to employees with particular sensitivities, such as to pollen, but they cannot insulate a sick worker from the rest of the team. If an employee has a bad cold and you hand them a pair of gloves and a mask, you have not solved the problem. Do everyone a favor and send them home (with no loss of pay—incentivizing working while sick is a recipe for trouble).
Safe Physical Distancing in All Seasons
There are times of the year when infectious diseases can run rampant through the general population. If you’re not careful, your entire team could end up with an illness because when germ-sharing becomes the norm, you get in the trap of “if one person gets it, everyone gets it.” Of course this is avoidable.
Hopefully the coronavirus situation teaches us lasting lessons in the value of containment.
Keeping 6 feet away from others as a general rule, and having employee workflow that allows for this, will help keep annoying colds and potentially debilitating flus from getting stuck in everyone’s head like a catchy tune. And so will doubling down on your efforts around regular cleaning and disinfecting.
Make Cultivation Facility Health and Safety a Team Value
We grow up thinking of cleaning as something we’re told to do as a chore, but really it should be a labor of love. After all, this is what allows your team to have a safe place in which to work, and that is a basic prerequisite for doing what everyone is there to do: Ship top-quality cannabis out the door and maintain production deadlines.
Taking care of your facility means you are making a meaningful difference, even if you can’t directly see whose health is being protected by your actions.
“I might be twice-removed from personal interaction, but knowing that I’m helping in some way from afar is so important to me,” Ann says about establishing SOPs for cultivation facility health and safety.
Maintenance is more than a box to check—it’s essential to your bottom line.
Your flower is what makes you money, and your employees are what make your flower, so treat both of them with all the respect they deserve. That starts with making sure they have a safe and healthy place to show up to work.
Learn more about Next Big Crop’s compliance services.