Rapid Testing for COVID-Safety: Hanes Brands is Adapting With Rapid Antigen Testing

Safe and well people make strong organisations—that’s why Vitality Works exists. And it’s a major priority for Hanes Brands Inc—the global group that’s home to iconic aussie brands like Bonds and Berlei.

For Hanes Australasia, ensuring a safe working environment for their team members across distribution centres, retail stores and support centres was a core priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and one that challenged the group toward ongoing adaptation as health guidance evolved.

Vitality Works has helped answer that challenge with onsite COVID-19 screening, and now workplace Rapid Antigen Testing.

Iconic in name and nature.

With a business built on iconic brands, Hanes Australasia has always sought to prioritise the safety of their people. So it’s no surprise that Belinda Easton—Head of Safety for Hanes Australasia—has been at the centre of the company’s thinking on worker and business protection during COVID-19.

“People love Hanes’ brands for their values—they have a relationship with these brands every day”, says Belinda. “And that flows into working for Hanes—there’s a values-based approach that’s a kind of true north”.

It’s an approach that led Hanes Group to respond quickly to COVID-19 in 2020. But with staff across support centre, retail, and distribution centre contexts—including hundreds in the local areas worst hit during Sydney’s Delta outbreak—Hanes Australasia undertook a safety-led reimagining of operations across many contexts.

Hanes Brands Inc Melbourne Distribution Centre

Staying ahead of the safety curve.

We’re all familiar with the many pivots of policy and medical advice around COVID-19. For large organisations this has meant keeping agility at the forefront—and seizing opportunities as they arise.  

“It’s been a constant evolution” says Belinda. “And we’ve aimed to stay ahead of government mandates to provide a gold standard of safety for our people”.

For Hanes Australasia, the key distribution centre in Sydney’s West was a focus for safety work through the later stages of the pandemic in 2021.

Shift segregation involved dividing space and teams into zones—even to the extent of pop-up canteens to service each zone separately. The ‘workforce bubbles’ approach used training, visual reminders, sign-in procedures, auditing, and enhanced cleaning—and even specialised equipment for individuals—all to prevent sharing and transmission.

Hanes Australiasia even looked at underlying family connections between staff in different shifts and zones—as well as the more standard introduction of perspex between tables and PPE gear.

Hanes Australasia first engaged Vitality Works to assist with COVID-19 screenings onsite—and reported a greater sense of safety amongst their workforce—as well as an incentive to self-report more accurately. 

“Having a nurse or practitioner at the door—whether it’s testing temperature or asking health screening questions—it signals to our people that we’re taking their health seriously”, says Belinda. “And that they should too”.

Preventing shutdowns for COVID-thriving.

As Australia and then New Zealand open up—with vaccination rates soaring and people increasingly safe from the worst of COVID-19—Hanes Australasia is mobilising Rapid Antigen Testing as part of its evolution into ‘COVID-normal’.

“With high levels of community vaccination, we can include more focus on operational continuity”, says Belinda. “So we’ve expanded the Vitality Works scope to include Rapid Antigen Testing”. 

As Head of Product and Partnerships at Vitality Works, Rathia Gierdien developed the Rapid Antigen Testing program to help organisations protect their people while protecting against shutdowns.

“Living with COVID-19 is very different to preventing COVID-19 with lockdowns”, says Rathia.

Rathia says that as vaccination rates soar, symptomatic COVID plummets—so old PCR testing regimes fall short. Throw in legal uncertainty around organisationally mandated vaccinations, invasive testing—and even disclosure—and rapid testing is the crucial circuit-breaker.

“Asymptomatic workforce testing means early detection—and that few days gained can stop an exponential quarantine situation that cripples workforces”, says Rathia.

Testing times call for trust in testing.

Beyond the business case for its efficiency, Rapid Antigen Testing has proven popular with the Hanes Australasia workforce.

“People like the immediacy of the result”, says Belinda. “It’s more convenient and so much better than waiting days for the result—it seems to calm down any anxiety”. 

But not all Rapid Antigen Testing is created equal. Vitality Works provides trained medical staff to administer tests. From onsite specialists to workforce training, from remote testing regimes to booking and notification systems—our tailored programs leverage decades of workforce health experience.

For Belinda Easton and Hanes Australasia, the professionalism and adaptability of Vitality Works give their business an edge. Rapid Antigen Testing helps Hanes Australasia deliver on their promise to prioritise their workforce wellbeing—as well as ensure business continuity.

“Vitality Works have been a good partner”, says Belinda. “They’re reliable, the professionals onsite are great—and they stay adaptive to protect our people and our business”.

Vitality Works is proud to assist—across Australia, where we were an early authorised provider, and in New Zealand, where our nurses and systems are supporting organisational trials.

“We stand ready to customise Rapid Antigen Testing programs to any workforce”, says Rathia Gierdien. “Done with the right systems and safeguards—it’s the emerging ‘tip of the spear’ for vaccinated populations”.