AsureQuality COVID-19 Pandemic Plan and Actions Update
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve in New Zealand, AsureQuality is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our teams and to ensure business continuity in service for our customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Core Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Team Fully Operational:
Our core BCP team is meeting at least twice daily to review the situation, take needed decisions, and assign actions accordingly. The team comprises the CEO and full Executive team along with key representatives from across the business.
BCPs Fully Operational for All Business Units:
BCPs have been enacted by each of our operating business units and these are being managed and coordinated by an overarching Group BCP. These BCPs ensure we are as well prepared as possible for the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in New Zealand.
Continuity of Service:
We continue to see no material impacts on our ability to supply services to customers at this time. As before, we will be in direct communication if we believe this could change.
As the situation continues to evolve, we are taking further measures to protect the health of our teams, customers, and partners. Here's an overview of our additional actions:
Audit, Inspection and Certification Services:
We have reviewed all 85 different programmes that we deliver which are underpinned by onsite audit services. In all instances we have:
- adjusted schedules to minimise auditor travel wherever possible
- looked for any opportunities to limit auditor time needed on sites
- implemented a standardised pre-visit checklist and onsite audit safe practice guide for our teams which includes:
- instructions on maintaining appropriate social distance
- adoption of safe greeting practices
- good hygiene practices.
This checklist and guide are designed to enhance the protection of our teams, as well as, our customers and partners.
- Where MPI is the regulatory standard owner, we are actively engaging with them on all possibilities to deliver audits via alternative methods – i.e. remote auditing/verification. The same is occurring with other standard or programme owners.
- We have auditors already approved for remote verifications on Food Act programmes when customers meet specific criteria linked to the remoteness of their site. We are already actively offering remote verification options and working hard to rapidly expand our ability to service this.
- Separately we are independently engaging with two different technology providers that may allow remote auditing across different programmes. A dedicated project team has been formed and is working on bringing new solutions to market as soon as possible. We commit to delivering specific communications to customers on a programme by programme basis, as soon as we have a way forward.
- Our first preference remains to complete required audit activity according to schedule, however, where this is not possible, we will engage with Standard Setting Bodies, including MPI on all possibilities to delay or defer audits.
- We have a dedicated resource in MPI in Wellington actively working on this. We are working hard with MPI to ensure we can be as accommodating as possible to changing customer circumstances during this time of uncertainty. Once again, we commit to delivering specific communications to customers on a programme by programme basis as soon as we have any clarifications.
- We have updated our resource contingency plans to ensure that we are well prepared should some of our team members become sick or need to self-isolate.
- Each of our laboratory sites have enacted split shift separations and intense clean down routines specifically for COVID-19, focused on ensuring we protect our teams as much as possible, so we can continue to deliver critical testing services.
- We have contingencies in place for staffing across all our laboratories, including multiple cross-training for all testing and flexible technical resources pools to ensure that we maintain the ability to cover employees who become sick, or are required to self-isolate.
- We also have back-up laboratory partners to assist if required.
- We have good inventory levels of laboratory consumables and are in regular contact with our consumables suppliers. At this stage they do not see any difficulty in their own inventory levels.
Internal Support Services:
- Our internal support services (Finance, HR, IT and Business Development) have trialled working remotely from home and we will likely be moving to a fully work-from-home regime by the end of this week. This will ensure that we are able to maintain essential administrative support to our field and laboratory teams.
We want to reiterate again that these actions do not change how we value the work we do with you and your business.
We will be continuously monitoring the situation as it evolves and will adjust our plan 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 me or your usual point of contact within AsureQuality.
Alastair de Raadt
Group Director Marketing and Business Development