2020-11-11

Freeman Lumber bringing in workers from Quebec

by KEVIN MCBAIN

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Despite Quebec being one of the COVID-19 pandemic's hot spots in Canada, Queens County's Harry Freeman and Son Ltd. (Freeman Lumber) is bringing in workers from that province to assist at its sawmill in Greenfield.

But company officials say the local community need not worry since the workers are operating under strict health protocols.

"Freeman Lumber is deeply committed to the safety of its workforce and the broader community," said Mark Nodding, Freeman Lumber's health and safety and ISO coordinator.

There are now 15 workers from outside the Atlantic bubble who are working at the mill. According to the company, they have specialized skills that are needed in the replacement of its main sawing line equipment, which comes from Quebec manufacturers.

Nova Scotia's Department of Health and Wellness granted Freeman a specialized worker exception to complete the replacement. This followed the development of a management plan outlining best practices, which was created in consultation with provincial government officials, Nodding said.

Under the exception, the workers are allowed to work on their project without self-quarantining for 14 days, but they are isolated from the general workforce at Freeman Lumber and are required to self-quarantine at their accommodations when not at the work site. They must travel directly to the work site, and no side trips into the community are permitted.

According to Nodding, the company also has arranged a schedule of health professionals on-site, along with COVID-19 swab testing, in line with a best-practice testing strategy created by PRAXES Medical Group. He suggested this is above and beyond the rigorous measures legally required to permit specialized workers from outside of the province.

The replacement project has begun and is expected to take a few weeks with a scheduled production trial beginning November 16.

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