31 Mar 2021

FELCO implements ongoing testing for its staff


FELCO implements ongoing testing for its staff

In order to avoid internal contamination caused by asymptomatic employees, FELCO SA has set up its own independent Covid-19 testing unit. The objective is to continuously test up to 80% of staff every week. This voluntary and proactive approach was organized in collaboration with the private laboratory Etilab, which made the technology available and trained the staff.

Testing 80% of its staff for Covid-19 every week is what FELCO SA will do from now on in Les Geneveys-sur-Coffrane. The world leader in pruning shears has set up an in-house rapid testing unit which will soon be launching its activities. “The aim is to isolate potential asymptomatic cases which could cause internal contamination. But we also want to reassure our staff and allow them to work in a calmer climate,” says Christophe Nicolet, co-CEO of the company.

Voluntary testing

The tests are carried out on a voluntary basis only. However, Christophe Nicolet emphasizes that “the rate of acceptance among employees is already very high”. The testing cell is independent. It is based in the sick bay and the FELCO Samaritans have been trained both to take samples (through nasal swabbing which is less invasive than the PCR test) and to analyze the results using an automatic machine. Within 15 minutes, the test result is produced, communicated to the employee concerned and automatically sent to the FOPH via a dedicated IT platform. “We plan to test about 25 people a day,” adds the General Manager.

A solution in partnership

FELCO has been preparing these widespread tests internally for several weeks. “In the absence of a solution offered by the health authorities, we decided to look for one ourselves,” explains Christophe Nicolet. The company approached the Boudry-based laboratory Etilab, which provided the technology and trained its employees. “This proactive approach by FELCO is to be commended. It shows that the company takes care of its employees", emphasizes Dr. Pierre Lemarchand, Director of Etilab. He notes that FELCO is currently the only company in the canton to have developed and set up its own internal testing unit.

FELCO has taken the lead

This all took place well before the Swiss government recommended mass screening in companies. Indeed, it was only on March 15 that the FOPH decided on new approaches to detect as many coronavirus infections as possible, especially those in asymptomatic persons. In this respect, the Confederation has been recommending regular and repeated testing at companies and institutions since then and covers the costs of these tests.

“With these tests, we want to be prepared to provide all the security conditions so that current restrictions on our employees can be reduced. Thus, when the health authorities in our country decide that wearing a mask is no longer compulsory for people sitting at their workstation thanks to systematic testing, or when it becomes possible to attend cultural or sporting events with the Covid-19 immunity card, we will already be ready,” adds Christophe Nicolet. For FELCO, implementing this approach combines security and peace of mind.

At Etilab, this pilot in-company experiment is being examined very closely, as Pierre Lemarchand points out. “We want to develop the concept, especially for events. At a festival or concert, with a dozen analysis machines it would be possible to test 5,000 people in just an hour and a half.” 

Raquel Soriano | Assembly Operator and FELCO Internal Samaritan

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have always felt safe at work at FELCO. The company has always taken the necessary measures when needed and using the appropriate means to do so. This is once again the case with these systematic tests. Over time, we have come to realize that the real problem is people who are asymptomatic, who may be unknowingly creating contamination. At FELCO, we have a very good management team who always explain the reasons for the protective measures taken. This is reassuring.”

More information

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Credit : www.tripack.ch