Woolworths hires first chief medical officer

The supermarket giant has appointed a 20-year veteran of occupational medicine to lead the fight against COVID-19

Woolworths hires first chief medical officer

Woolworths stepped up its efforts to combat COVID-19: the supermarket giant named its first-ever chief medical officer to guide employees and customers in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

The retailer appointed Dr. Rob McCartney, a 20-year veteran of occupational medicine, to the new post as it strives to build a “COVID-safe workplace”.

Dr. McCartney is expected to give direction to senior executives on the company’s workplace health and safety initiatives, and coordinate with regulators amid the global health crisis. The doctor said he is eager to “hit the ground running” considering the scale of the current challenges.

Read more: Woolworths employees send powerful message to ‘abusive’ customers

“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,” Dr. McCartney said.

Having served in the mining, energy, transport and manufacturing industries, Dr. McCartney believes his role as chief medical officer is crucial to identifying hazards typically overlooked in the workplace.

“If you are not getting proper advice from a chief medical officer, how do you know if you are not exposed to liabilities in the health and safety areas?” he said.

Dr. McCartney knows the retail sector can benefit greatly from the insights of a medical expert; he predicts more companies will follow suit in appointing their own chief medical officer.

Read more: Woolworths to slash 1,300 jobs in pivot to automation

Brian Long, Woolworths’ general manager of group safety, health and well-being, is confident in the leadership of the “highly credentialed” Dr. McCartney.

“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 well-being of our teams and customers,” Long said.

“As Australia’s largest private employer serving millions of customers each week, it has never been more important to have informed medical-based input into our decisions around occupational health and hygiene and public health,” he said.

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