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COVID-19 Important Updates


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AsureQuality COVID-19 Pandemic Plan and Actions Update #29

Following the announcement by the New Zealand Government on Sunday morning advising a return to the Red Traffic Light setting nationwide, we wish to update you on how we currently see our operations and service delivery under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

AsureQuality is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our people and to ensure business continuity in the essential service of our customers. Under the Framework and in light of the Omicron variant, we are completing full reviews of our practises and approaches for each area of our business and services.

Laboratory Services:

  • All of our laboratories are currently operating effectively.
  • We are reviewing the robust plans, protocols, and practices we have in place across all of our laboratories. Some of these precautions may impact our normal productivity but are deemed to be very important to help protect our people and ensure service continuity.
  • We are working hard to manage any challenges that the ongoing COVID-19 situation is presenting in order to deliver testing services with minimal material customer impacts.
  • We will be keeping customers directly informed if any significant issues develop.
  • Providing the best forward view of your demand and where applicable ensuring that all samples are pre-registered with complete registration information, will help us to continue to operate effectively.

Auckland Laboratory:

  • Microbiology – these services are currently operating normally, with no changes to service levels.
  • Chemistry – increased volumes of un-forecasted testing, combined with team vacancies, continues to cause some delays for some tests. We are working hard to address this.
  • ETAs for work in progress – thank you for your continued support in helping to consolidate requests for information to streamline communications. This helps us to expedite responses.
  • Please relay to your teams that the best place to find an ETA s via the LabConnect (external link)
  • To obtain access to LabConnect please contact: labconnect@asurequality.com
  • Situations Vacant – recruitment to fill vacant positions is going well, but resourcing remains constrained in some parts of the laboratory. Our staff continue to work longer hours to ensure existing resourcing is applied where possible to minimise disruptions.

Audit, Inspection And Certification Services:

  • We are taking a precautionary approach.
  • Our preference is to complete all work as it is scheduled, in mutual agreement with customers.
  • The delivery approach for scheduled work can vary depending on guidance from MPI and/ or the relevant standard setting body, and a risk assessment. The approach taken will be discussed and mutually agreed with customers.
  • As the situation evolves, we will be reviewing our ways of working and delivery approach to ensure they remain appropriate, that we have needed flexibility, and where possible, transition to remote options.
  • To protect our people, customers and the community, all on-site work is being delivered following appropriate COVID-19 guidelines including: risk assessment, completion of a pre-visit questionnaire, mask wearing, other PPE, social distancing, strict hygiene protocols, and contact tracing.
  • Wherever possible we are limiting the need for travel for our people.

Rapid Antigen testing (RAT)

  • Where customers are conducting RAT on site, we agree our team will comply with the requirement to be tested before entry.
  • We will discuss and mutually agree with customers how the additional time for these processes will be accounted for.
  • We will work with customers to determine how to proceed with respect to costs occurred in the situation of false positives or other additional costs associated with the COVID-19 situation.
  • We have procured RAT kits for selective targeted use with our teams and people. Robust plans, protocols, and practices are being developed around this to ensure we are best protecting our people, customers and the community.

For Animal Products, Plants, Wine, Organics and Treatments

  • MPI guidance:
    • At all traffic light colours, verification is expected to occur on-site.
    • As much preparation and verification work as possible and practical should be completed off-site to minimise the time spent on-site.
    • Unannounced and unscheduled verifications revert to normal frequencies.
    • There are some very limited situations where a fully remote audit can be considered. These are not applicable to all verifications. Situations for fully remote audits are largely limited to where these are not allowed through local travel restrictions or people needing to self-isolate.

For Food Act

  • MPI guidance:
    • At all traffic light colours, verification is expected to occur on-site.
    • There are some very limited situations where a fully remote audit can be considered. These are not applicable to all verifications. Situations for fully remote audits are largely limited to where these are not allowed through local travel restrictions or people needing to self isolate.
    • If a food business meets the criteria for, and is offered remote verification, fully remote audit can be delivered (NB: criteria for this is: NP1-3 and TFCP only, not an initial verification, no unacceptable outcomes, and more than two hours travel from a verifier).

For GFSI

  • At all traffic light colours, verification is expected to occur on-site.
  • A hybrid audit can be provided for both announced and unannounced verifications.
  • A fully remote audit can be completed, however, this will not be recognised by GFSI.

 

  • All other programmes including Engineering, NZGAP, and Industry Quality and Grade, the delivery approach for scheduled work will be on-site.

 

Meat Inspection Services:

  • In alignment with our meat processing customers and the MIA, meat inspection services continue under the agreed protocols for the different traffic light colours under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.
  • For further information, please contact your AsureQuality Area Manager.

Training Services:

  • Our preference is to complete all training as it is scheduled, in mutual agreement with customers.
  • Essential on-site training can continue in all traffic light colours under the COVID-19 Protection Framework within MoH and MoE guidelines.
  • To protect our people, customers and the community, all essential on-site training is being delivered following appropriate COVID-19 guidelines for risk assessment, mask wearing, other PPE, social distancing, strict hygiene protocols, and contact tracing.
  • We also have a number of courses are available using Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) via Zoom.
  • For further information, please look online (external link) , or contact training@asurequality.com

 

We are continuously monitoring the situation and will adjust our plans and actions accordingly. We will be in direct communication again if we believe there are material changes.

 

If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our customer services team at customerservices@asurequality.com , or your usual point of contact within AsureQuality.