Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Health and Safety Inspections
442. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Health and Safety Authority inspections that have been carried out at meat processing plants in each month of 2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11322/20]
443. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of complaints received by the Health and Safety Authority regarding meat processing plants and the issue of compliance with Covid-19 safety measures in the workplace; the number of inspections which have been carried out following these complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11323/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 442 and 443 together.
The national Return to Work Safely Protocol can be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE and the Department of Health. It is operating in parallel with existing workplace health and safety statutory requirements. The Protocol sets out in very clear terms for employers and workers in all business sectors the steps that they must take both before a workplace reopens and on an ongoing basis.
The Health and Safety Authority is the lead agency in monitoring adherence to the national Return to Work Safely Protocol.
In addition, the Health and Safety Authority is a member of the National Outbreak Control Team (NOTC). The NOCT is led by the HSE and includes membership from professionals in public health, environmental health, animal health as well as the Health and Safety Authority, in relation to occupational health and safety. The NOCT, along with local Outbreak Control Teams, is in place to address outbreaks of COVID-19 and to recommend steps and measures to ensure that outbreaks can be managed and brought under control as quickly as possible. COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health issue so the first step must always be ensuring that measures are in place to manage and prevent outbreaks not just for the workers involved but also for the wider community where such workers live.
The total number of Health and Safety Authority inspections that have been carried out at meat processing plants in 2020 is 30 and this covers both meat processing and poultry processing plants. The monthly breakdown is as follows:
|Month||Total. No. of meat plants inspected|
|June (to 12 June 2020)||17|
I have been informed by the Health and Safety Authority that their Workplace Contact Unit was contacted on 22 occasions in relation to COVID-19 concerns in connection with 12 meat-processing facilities. All 12 of the meat plants have been inspected by close of business on 12 June last.
It is worth noting that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who have an ongoing role in meat processing plants, is also a member of the National Outbreak Control Team and they too are checking compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol in such plants.
445. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to her contribution in Dáil Éireann on 21 May 2020 regarding the number of HSA inspections that had taken place at meat plants, the reason this information was subsequently released to the media when it was considered confidential; if she considers this to be a breach of confidentiality; the actions that she plans to take in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11325/20]
In my contribution to the Dáil on 21 May last I pointed out that, at that stage, the Health and Safety Authority had carried out over 240 on-site compliance inspections. I also said that while the Health and Safety Authority does not give details of individual inspections, or details of individual employers, as such information is deemed confidential, I was able to confirm that meat processing plants were included in these numbers.
As the Health and Safety Authority has continued its programme of inspections to check adherence to the Return to Work Safely Protocol across all sectors of the economy, general, high-level information on the number of inspections has been made available to the Dáil. The Health and Safety Authority has itself made such information available in response to media queries. However, details of individual businesses inspected, or due to be inspected, remain confidential to the Authority.