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COVID-19 Important Updates


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AsureQuality COVID-19 Pandemic Plan and Actions Update #30

With the announcement of the shift to Phase Two of the response to Omicron, we wish to update you on how we currently see our operations and service delivery.

Critical Service:

We are registered as a critical service so are able to participate in the Close Contact Exemption Scheme and utilise the ‘test-to-work’ system where appropriate and needed. We will be taking a very considered approach to ‘test-to-work’ with robust protocols, and practices to ensure we’re protecting our people, customers, and communities, alongside business continuity. We will proactively engage with impacted customers before utilising the ‘test-to-work’ system for any of our people in customer facing roles.

Along with the supply of rapid antigen tests (RAT) through the Close Contact Exemption Scheme, AsureQuality have also secured a significant number of RATs for use across our business. We see this as another important tool to help us manage through the next periods.

Business Continuity Plan:

AsureQuality has implemented our recently reviewed Business Continuity Plan. In the interests of sharing our approach, please find a high level summary (external link) of what we are doing across the different areas of our business under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Laboratory Services:

  • All of our laboratories are currently operating effectively within the current Omicron constraints.
  • We have robust plans, protocols, and practices in place across all of our labs. Some of these important precautions may impact our normal productivity, but are deemed to be very important to help protect our people and ensure service continuity.
  • 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 and Christchurch Laboratories:

  • 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. 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.
  • Necessary operational changes, vacant positions, increased un-forecasted testing volume, courier delays, and disruptions to international and domestic shipping have led to reduced laboratory efficiency, and we are not currently operating at our full capacity. We are currently working hard to mitigate these issues.
  • Although we are making every effort to minimise impact to our customers, due to the situations detailed above, you may experience some slightly longer than expected turnaround times.
  • If your samples require urgent attention, please contact your Customer Experience Representative to discuss the situation (alternatively call 0508 00 11 22), and we will do our very best to meet your requirements.

Audit, Inspection, and Certification Services:

  • 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 the 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.

For Animal Products, Plants, Wine, Organics and Treatments

  • MPI guidance:
    • In Phase Two and Three, fully off-site verification is the preference.
    • If an on-site verification component is required (inclusive of inspections and /or surveys) then as much preparation and verification work as possible and practical should be completed off-site to minimise the time spent on-site.
    • Audits with on-site components must take place for higher risk businesses. We will advise if this is required.

For Food Act

  • MPI guidance:
    • In Phase Two, verification is currently 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

  • In Phase Two, 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, IVA Inspections and Industry Quality and Grade, the delivery approach for scheduled work in Phase Two 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 guidance. This does require all participants to be fully vaccinated in the current red-light settings.
  • 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 us or your usual point of contact within AsureQuality.