Mercer PR continues production, health of staff remains top priority

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Mercer Peace River Pulp Ltd. is staying open through the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Alberta has yet to release its list of essential services in the province, other provinces including Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec have already deemed forestry and silviculture products such as pulp and paper essential. Essential businesses are allowed to stay open through the pandemic.

The forest products sector can help fight the virus by producing pulp for tissue and paper products in high consumer demand, as well as for crucial medical supplies such as gowns and masks.

Mercer has responded to the pandemic through various measures. Mercer’s management team has issued a public operational statement outlining how they are addressing health and safety.

The company says it is “committed to providing continuity of operations” while ensuring operations are as safe as possible for everyone.

To start, any Mercer employee who is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms is prohibited from coming in to work.

Lunches and breaks are being staggered, and maintenance shifts have been split up.

Many Mercer staff are working from home, and call-in meetings are being encouraged rather than meeting in person. Meetings at the mill are adhering to social distancing recommendations, with signs posted on all conference and boardrooms saying how many people are allowed in each room.

Visitors and contractors are expected to call in before coming on site and their health is assessed over the phone.

Mercer is also restricting business travel.

Cleaning staff have had their duties increased, and are expected to clean administration handrails, doorknobs, and other commonly touched surfaces twice a day.

Hand sanitizing stations with instructions have been set up around the mill, and signs have also been posted in washrooms, lunchrooms and other areas directing people on how to properly wash their hands.

Mercer says their leadership team is meeting daily and will keep all employees, contractors, partners, and customers informed through the rapidly changing situation.

“We thank our team members and partners for their endless efforts during this unfamiliar and challenging time,” Mercer says.

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