Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Health and Safety Inspections

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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33. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment the number of Health and Safety Authority, HSA, inspections of meat and food processing plants that have been carried out for compliance with Covid-19 regulations since March 2020; if he will provide a breakdown of these; if the workplace was compliant or not; the number that were unannounced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30093/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The Health and Safety Authority, in its role of checking compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol since 18thMay, is undertaking inspections across a wide range of workplaces and industry sectors, including meat processing plants (MPPs).

To-date the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has completed 98 inspections and investigations (13 of which were revisits) of Meat & Food Processing Facilities since the 18thMay 2020, which include those connected with COVID-19 outbreaks. Of the total number of inspections carried out, 30 were announced. The announced inspections occurred for the facilities that were the focus of the National Outbreak Control Team for meat processing plants, where significant COVID-19 outbreaks had occurred. In addition, other inspectorates, including inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) have been carrying COVID-19 inspections at meat processing facilities in support of the Health and Safety Authority, DAFM has a ‘permanent presence’ at 49 meat processing plants.

The table below shows the number of COVID-19 compliance checks per NACE code for (Meat & Food processing) by the HSA and the percentage level of compliance with the main provisions contained in the Protocol namely;

- Covid Plan in place

- Covid training provided

- Covid control measures in place

- Lead worker representative in place

NACE Code Total No. Covid Checks Plan % Training % Control Measures % Lead Worker %
1011-Processing and preserving of meat 72 96 95 99 71
1012-Processing and preserving of Poultry meat 5 100 100 100 60
1013- Production of meat and Poultry meat products 21 95 95 95 95

Table 2 below shows the number of inspections and revisits carried out by the HSA per County for the food processing and meat processing plants between 18th May and 8th October 2020.

County Inspections Revisits
Carlow
2
1
Cavan
3
0
Cork
18
4
Donegal
2
0
Kildare
7
1
Dublin
3
0
Galway
1
0
Kilkenny
1
0
Laois
2
0
Longford
2
1
Monaghan
4
0
Meath
6
0
Mayo
5
1
Waterford
4
0
Tipperary
10
2
Roscommon
4
1
Westmeath
3
2
Offaly
2
0
Wexford
5
0
TOTAL
85
13

In addition, the HSA is a member of the National Outbreak Control Team dealing with the COVID-19 outbreaks at Meat Process Facilities. Local outbreak control teams have been working with the employers and employees of affected facilities to control and reduce the spread of infection. These teams are led by HSE Public Health departments and are also multi-agency, with representatives from environmental health, occupational health, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and have had good engagement from and co-operation with plant management in responding to outbreaks. Arising from the Authority’s involvement with the outbreak control teams, a number of inspections have been carried out jointly with public health experts from the Health Service Executive. The Authority will continue to support and work with public health experts in dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in the meat plants and food processing businesses.

Inspections involved engagement with on-site personnel including management, health and safety advisors, COVID-19 Lead Worker Representatives, safety representatives and DAFM officials. Inspectors also liaised pre- and post-inspection with the Chair of the relevant local OCT to ensure effective planning and feedback.

There is positive cross-Agency/Departmental co-operation regarding meat plants and I am advised that improvements have been forthcoming in the sector.

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