No meat factory inspection has been carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) even though complaints regarding coronavirus concerns were lodged with the authority.
The information came to light during the special committee on COVID-19 response on Tuesday 19 May.
HSA CEO Dr Sharon McGuinness told the committee that although they were preparing to undertake inspections of meat factories, no inspections had yet taken place.
She said this was due to the HSE taking the lead in controlling outbreaks in meat plants to prevent a spread of the virus to communities.
Some 200 complaints were made to the HSA in regard to virus concerns and McGuinness said that some of the complaints had been in regard to meat plants.
She said that the complaints had been assessed and it had been decided that an inspection was not called for, however she added that over 80 on-site unannounced inspections had taken place on Monday 18 May.
Her comments raised further questioning from Irish Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy who said he couldn't see the sense in not carrying out inspections on foot of the complaints.
In total, the HSA carries out around 10,000 announced and unannounced inspections every year.
The authority does have the power to close plants if they are found to be in breach of workplace protocols and safety measures.
Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, who posed the initial question on meat plant inspections, said that her response did not “instil confidence”, especially on the issue of just 67 inspectors currently in the field to cover inspections for all sectors.
His comments were echoed by Patricia King of ICTU, who said that the number of inspectors was not adequate.
Dr McGuinness said she was confident that more inspectors would be added to the HSA rota.
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