Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Meat Processing Plants
867. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of workers in meat plants that have been tested for Covid-19 by centre; the number within each plant that have tested positive; if his Department has provided PPE to meat plants; if so, if meat factories will be asked to repay the cost of same; if he is satisfied that meat factories have been sufficiently proactive in protecting their workers during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6014/20]
Information with regard to the numbers of workers tested or positive in meat plants is a matter for the Food Businesses and the Health Service Executive.
My Department supplies PPE to its own staff and contractors in Food Business premises. It does not supply PPE to Food Business personnel. Food business have put in place a range of protective practices and equipment to protect employee safety and these include measures such as the reduction of throughput rates at the plant, temperature checks on entry into the plant, the extension of operating hours and other safeguards such as “podding”, the provision of additional PPE, the use of perspex screens and the provision of additional facilities to support physical distancing measures.
A national Outbreak Control team has been established by the HSE to deal with all issues relating to Covid 19 in meat plants. My Department is represented on this committee and it is expected that recommendations, including any in relation to testing, will issue from this group in due course. Any clusters of cases in individual meat plants, in common with clusters in other workplaces, are dealt with by local HSE-led outbreak control teams.
In relation to measures taken to maintain social distancing within the meat plant environment, my Department staff and its contractors are following HSE Guidelines in relation to social distancing.