At Primo Water Corporation, there is no higher priority than the safety and wellbeing of our associates, customers and suppliers. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, we have taken multiple steps to prevent the potential spread of the virus, to equip our associates to provide an essential service in our communities, and to ensure the ongoing, safe manufacturing and delivery of our products.
The Safety of Our Products and Processes
As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has emphasized, there is “no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 in food packaging.” What’s more, our bottled water products go through a well-designed, end to end disinfection process with multiple barriers and stringent checks and balances. Similarly, the water in our refill machines is treated and disinfected over multiple steps. Our dispensers, too, go through a multiple-step disassembly, cleaning and sanitation process. Finally, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that the risk of transmission through anything other than person-to-person contact is very low.
Above and beyond the already rigorous standards we maintain across our branches, plants and vehicles, we have implemented safety, sanitation and quality protocols to keep our associates and customers safe. We have reinforced handwashing and respiratory standards, signage and training; added cleaning and handwashing supplies in all locations; increased hard surface sanitation to once per-shift with an extensive checklist; and mandated that all meetings start with reminders and guidance on these topics.
Crisis Response Teams
We have implemented crisis management teams at the enterprise level and in each of our businesses to ensure our operations are aligned with global health standards and that we continue to enable the ongoing safe manufacturing and distribution of our products – as well as the safety of our customers and associates throughout this crisis and beyond.
Social Distancing and Remote Work Options
To reduce the probability of spreading the virus to associates, families and communities, we suspended all domestic and international travel, enabled associates whose roles permit it to work from home, and implemented social distancing standards across corporate and support functions in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel. Fortifying the work from home option involved a herculean effort from associates across the business, including:
• The purchase and repurposing of hundreds of remote capable laptops,
• Training for associates on remote configuration, and
• The deployment of communications channels such as a COVID-19 hotline, a SharePoint site with FAQs and guidance, and consistent associate updates and announcements.
For associates working in our largest call center, we created seating arrangements to enable social distancing. Where possible, we reconfigured plant operations and implemented staggered shift schedules and start times to create separation and avoid overlap. Additionally, we have restricted visitors and vendors in our bottling facilities except in case of urgent need, with approval required from the facility manager.
Associate Safety & Paid Sick Leave
Our frontline associates have gone above and beyond to perform an essential service for customers and communities during this global crisis, and our priority is to support them and keep them safe. That’s why we are reinforcing the availability of “no contact” delivery with our customers – reminding them to communicate any updates to their delivery and that if they leave their empty bottles outside, we will replace them accordingly. We are also encouraging associates to live our safety principles and stop unsafe work if there is an identified or perceived risk at any delivery location.
In the event of a positive associate diagnosis, we take immediate steps first to isolate the individual for fourteen days and request that s/he receives medical attention, in accordance with health agency guidance. Additionally, we sanitize the facility and all common areas and touch points. Quarantined associates may return to work only with a doctor’s release.
All associates in the U.S. diagnosed with COVID-19, isolated or placed on quarantine by a doctor will be provided with two weeks of paid sick leave. We are following applicable guidance and laws in the other countries where we do business. For these associates, we established a continual check-in and follow-up process to discuss benefits, return to work information and general physical and mental wellbeing. We also are providing associates with access to the Employee Assistance Program, a no-cost 24 x 7 service providing counseling, legal and financial consultations, a health resource library and referrals for tasks such as childcare, household help and more.
Thank You to Our Associates
Our frontline associates leave their homes daily to ensure that our customers and communities receive an essential service during this pandemic, and we are grateful for their commitment and dedication. During these unprecedented times, our associates have risen to the challenge to deliver above and beyond for our customers and our communities. They have demonstrated our core values in action, putting our customers at the center of everything they do. They have demonstrated respect for their teammates and communities. And they have acted with integrity and a sense of urgency amidst a global and domestic crisis.
Our Commitment to Our Customers and Communities
As COVID-19 reduces access to food and other essential services, we are donating bottled water to local hospitals and food banks in hot zones and contributing to the United Way’s efforts to help families and people in need with food, shelter and critical services.
Through this crisis and beyond, food and beverage companies hold a special role as a part of the critical infrastructure to deliver essential products and services such as fresh water to our communities. We take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness and pride and view it as our commitment to our customers and communities across North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and Israel.
Thank you for your patience during this challenging time, and for the trust you place in Primo Water Corporation as your provider of safe, high quality water.