The risk and safety team at United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) has been honored as the Gold Winner for Workplace Safety by the 12th Annual Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has expanded its risk management initiatives and safety measures to protect more than 21,000 associates at its 59 distribution centers and additional office locations.
The annual awards recognize superior organizational performance, products, services and more. Public and private organizations operating in various can submit nominations. This was first year that UNFI participated in the process and received an award.
“Since March, UNFI’s risk and safety, human resources and operations leadership have seamlessly collaborated to implement swift, meaningful and wide-ranging actions to safeguard the health and safety of our warehouse associates,” said Jill Sutton, UNFI’s chief legal officer, general counsel and corporate secretary. “We are very proud that these risk and safety efforts have been recognized during this extremely trying year that has presented extraordinary health and wellness challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UNFI has relentlessly focused on creating safe and secure workplaces for our valued associates across North America. As a result of increased investments in safety, we have implemented enhanced cleanings, enacted stringent hygiene practices, distributed important protective gear and maintained socially distant workstations at all facilities. Our disciplined focus and meaningful investments have helped us successfully safeguard associates and keep the food supply chain moving throughout the pandemic. We are determined to build on this momentum and continue fulfilling our role as an essential business in the months ahead.”
UNFI continues to add new risk and safety initiatives and currently launching company-paid in-home COVID-19 testing for all associates, regardless of their health plan or previous exposure to the virus. The company is also testing a voluntary wellness mobile app to help associates monitor their health, and has updated its close-contact rules in response to recent Center for Disease Control guidance.
“Since the earliest days of the pandemic, we have recognized that keeping our workforce safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19 at our facilities are critical to keeping America fed,” noted Andre LaMere, UNFI’s SVP of risk and safety. “Our dedicated risk and safety team is committed to its role in keeping our associates safe so that UNFI can meet its stakeholders’ needs in the face of changing operating environments. Our operations leadership has been steadfast in their partnership and support for our COVID-19 protocols and continues to hold workplace safety as a central goal as they deliver excellent customer service. We also want to take this opportunity to thank our valued associates for their partnership, focus on safety and tremendous efforts this year. We are proud to reinforce our commitment to the safety of our front-line associates.”
The team also recently welcomed Brett Norton, who joined UNFI as VP of occupational safety after heading global safety programs at Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. Norton has extensive experience implementing effective safety programs that employ leading indicators to tackle safety issues before injuries occur and threats emerge.
Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.