Saliva PCR testing and extending vaccination requirement
On 20 October, Napier Port became the first port, and one of the first businesses in New Zealand, to voluntarily implement mandatory vaccination for its entire workforce (not just the frontline team currently required by border orders).
Chief Executive Todd Dawson said “We did this to protect our people and to play our part in protecting the community by raising vaccination rates. Our commitment to discharging our health and safety obligations, will see us doing everything practicable to keep people safe.
Secondly, to maximise economic recovery in a post-lockdown New Zealand, we have to enable businesses to be viable and sustainable. Realising the national vaccination target of 90% (and over) will require not only individuals choosing to become vaccinated, but supporting businesses to implement mandatory vaccination policies in a legitimate and effective way”.
“If other businesses are going to be in a position to do the same, especially small-medium sized organisations, they need more clarity and support to empower them to implement vaccination protocols. Even for a well-equipped business like ours, at times over the past 6 weeks introducing this policy has been all consuming with its own challenges. If other businesses are able to benefit from our experience, we would like to offer our support and learnings.” Mr Dawson said.
Extending mandatory vaccination to all Port Users
In October, we began consultation with port users around extending mandatory vaccination to non-Napier Port employees that come onto port.
“The vast majority are supportive of our proposal, and a small number have expressed concerns related to potential impacts on their operations. We are committed to working with them, and supporting them with this.
We are conscious of the number of port users and the complexity of connections into Napier Port, which logistically means this process will likely take up until the end of the year to implement. We aim to have this requirement fully in place before the end of December 2021.” Mr Dawson said.
Saliva PCR Surveillance Testing starting soon
In September, Napier Port procured a New Zealand-made, Saliva PCR Testing unit with the intention of carrying out surveillance testing on port. This surveillance testing will not replace official public health testing, but it will provide us with an added layer of protection to help us minimise any potential spread of COVID-19 at the port.
We have progressed our technical training and understanding of how we will manage the process, and worked with public health to ensure alignment with their requirements. We have recruited two specialist roles to manage the process and carry out the testing, which we will start doing from mid-November.
Napier Port will be one of the first non-health sector businesses in New Zealand to implement this technology. Initiatives like this, that support industry requirements to ensure business continuity, are urgently needed.
“Wrapping the right process around our testing is vital, to ensure it integrates with public health requirements and to give our people confidence in the testing itself and our management of it.” Mr Dawson said.
“Ports are ideally placed to trial new measures to combat COVID-19, having been on the frontline for 18 months, undergone regular testing, amongst the first to become vaccinated and also operating under often ambiguous and ever-changing guidelines. It has prepared us well to respond swiftly, balancing the regulatory requirements with the practicalities of running a business and 24hr/7 day a week operation” Mr Dawson said.
[Photo caption: Napier Port workshop while researching saliva PCR testing].
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