Woolworths has appointed a company chief medical officer to shape its response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Rob McCartney, who has more than 20 years’ experience in occupational medicine, has been appointed to the position.
“This appointment ensures we have an internal expert, with a grounding in medical advice, to help make well informed long-term decisions on the safety and wellbeing of our teams and customers,” Woolworths Group safety, health and wellbeing general manager Brian Long said on Friday.
“Dr McCartney’s appointment will ensure we keep at the forefront of occupational health, hygiene and public health policy as it relates to COVID-19, while upholding the highest possible health and hygiene standards across our supermarkets, distribution centres, and support offices.”
Woolworths said Dr McCartney would have a specialised and technical leadership role at the company. He will report directly to the Woolworths board, as well as senior executives.
His other responsibilities will include engaging with regulatory authorities and state and federal health departments, and developing educational materials for staff.
“Given the scale of current public health challenges, I’ll be looking to hit the ground running,” Dr McCartney said.
“Together with the safety and leadership teams, I’ll be focused on implementing best practice COVID-19 risk management across the business as we navigate the pandemic.”
Woolworths is Australia’s largest private employer, and has been at the forefront of panic buying and hygiene concerns sparked by the pandemic.
It is also encouraging customers to check into its stores via QR codes in Victoria, NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. The check-ins will allow customers to be easily traced if there is a confirmed virus infection in a store they have visited.
In July, as anxiety about outbreaks of COVID-19 grew in Australia, Woolworths rolled out real-time technology to help customers monitor queue lengths outside stores or pick less busy times to shop.
Woolworths said data used by its Q-Tracker was updated every five minutes and included the number of people waiting outside supermarkets and the average “flow speed” of queues.