Meat processing only industry to receive advance warning of Covid-19 inspections

Every announced Covid-19 inspection carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) took place in meat processing plants, AgriLand can reveal.

99% of all Covid-19 inspections/investigations carried out in workplaces were unannounced since the commencement of the easing of restrictions across the country.

Only 23% of inspections/investigations carried out in meat plants were unannounced.

As reported yesterday, Thursday, August 13, the HSA said that, of the 39 Covid-19 compliance inspections carried out in meat plants in the Republic of Ireland, only nine were unannounced.

Also Read: Only 9 out of 39 Covid-19 inspections in meat plants were unannounced

Responding to queries by AgriLand, the HSA revealed that the “vast majority”, greater than 99%, of HSA inspections were carried out unannounced in workplaces.

The HSA has conducted 3,840 inspections, of which 2,844 addressed Covid-19 measures. The 1%, or 30 workplaces that were announced prior to inspection, were all in meat plants.

The HSA said:

“In the main, HSA inspections are unannounced.

“However, in certain circumstances, limited advance notification may be required for operational reasons. For example, where it is essential for inspectors to meet with specific individuals at the place of work, or to ensure a particular work activity is being undertaken so as to allow inspectors to observe.

Since the commencement of Phase 1 of the Roadmap [for Reopening Society and Business], the HSA has conducted 3,820 inspections/investigations, of which 2,844 addressed Covid-19 measures in the protocol, across a wide range of workplaces and industry sectors, including meat processing plants. The vast majority [more than 99%] of these were unannounced.

“In early May, the authority was invited to become a member of the National Outbreak Control Team [NOCT] which was established to review matters relating to meat processing plants. Further to its involvement in the NOCT, the authority has undertaken 39 inspections.

“These inspections included each of those meat plants connected with a Covid-19 outbreak, along with other plants not associated with outbreaks.

“Inspections with known outbreaks were pre-advised at short notice in order to coordinate attendance of officials from a range of state agencies or to ensure that relevant management and other key personnel were available to facilitate a thorough inspection of the plants.”

‘What magic touch does the meat industry have in Ireland?’

Meanwhile, at the meeting of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response yesterday, committee chairman Michael McNamara asked Philip Carroll, chairman of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), if he could explain: “What magic touch does the meat industry have in Ireland in that it is treated so differently from any other sector?

It is treated with kid gloves; whereas, every other one [industry] is treated with a jackboot by the state.

“We have heard 30 announced inspections and how many meat plants have not even been inspected.

“There is a major contrast between how the hospitality sector has been treated and how the meat industry has been treated in terms of inspections.”