The regular shutdown at West Fraser’s pulp and paper mill is usually a massive undertaking, but completing the work during a global pandemic creates an even bigger challenge.
The mill will be shut down for around two weeks in May to conduct regular maintenance, and safety inspections.
A West Fraser spokesperson said in an email the mill had already been following an extensive COVID-19 safety plan, and has planned to minimize any risk of spread of the virus.
“The scope of the work has been pared down to only the items that are absolutely necessary,” they said. “Work will be spread across days and nights to minimize the number of people on site at any one time. The average number of contractors needed to complete the required maintenance work will be about 600 on days and 300 on nights.”
The company says most of those contractors are local, with a few exceptions for specialists brought in from the U.S. Those specialists will have increased isolation requirements. All of the contractors will receive a rapid test and daily health screenings throughout the shutdown.
“Not only have we developed our own measures for our staff, but we also have a responsibility to ensure contractors working for us have developed and are following their health and safety programs and COVID-19 measures,” the spokesperson said.
West Fraser has consulted WorkSafe B.C. and shared their complete plan with city staff. They’re even providing lists of restaurants offering takeout and delivery in Quesnel.
“We live here, our families live here and we do business here,” the spokesperson said. “We have a robust, detailed plan and will do our best to safeguard everyone.”
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