60 staff members test positive for Covid-19 at Offaly meat factory
It has been reported that as many 60 members of staff have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Rosderra Irish Meat factory in Edenderry, Co Offaly.
Almost 600 staff at the plant were tested earlier this week after over 100 staff members at Rosderra's Roscrea factory tested positive for the virus. Both plants remain operational and Rosderra says it is following HSE and government guidelines in stemming the spread of the virus. Staff members at both plants have raised concerns with safety practices in recent months and Deputy Brian Stanley even raised the issues in the Dáil last month.
A campaign of testing was undertaken at meat plants across the country in recent weeks after a number of outbreaks emerged.
Rosderra Irish Meats have not released a new statement following the positive tests this week, despite requests from the Offaly Express.
In a statement last week, the company said: "Rosderra Irish Meats Group continues to work closely with the HSE, DAFM and the Irish Government in continuing to implement our significant Covid-19 control measures and protocols to ensure that all health, safety and sanitation requirements are being strictly adhered to.
"The welfare of our employees is of the utmost importance to Rosderra Irish Meats and we continue to be extremely vigilant with our protective measures - including social distancing, mandatory face coverings for all employees on all sites, temperature checks and a staggered approach to breaks and start times to reduce the possibility of overcrowding.
"There is continued open communication with all employees – highlighting each step of our precautionary measures. All employees have been informed NOT to come to work when feeling ill or experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.
"From week commencing March 16, we instituted temperature testing and symptom interview-questionnaire for all staff and essential visitors entering our sites and have followed all Government advice.
"In addition, we have introduced additional PPE – visors, masks and goggles; set up marquees to facilitate adequate social distancing in changing rooms and at break times and are in the process of extending washing facilities; increased our hand sanitising procedure – which was already at a high level as befitting a food production plant; reconfigured our operations to facilitate social distancing or partitioned workspaces where appropriate; staff working from home where possible; engaged with the HSE to co-ordinate testing of all of our staff at one location.
"In common with many other sizeable essential businesses, including media companies, regrettably we have staff across the business who are self-isolating and are awaiting tests or test results, staff who have tested positive, some of whom have returned to work following the HSE agreed self-isolation protocol and some who continue to self-isolate under the same protocol and staff who have tested negative and continue to work.
"As Covid-19 is continuing to evolve, we have proactively adapted to that changing environment in putting in place additional prevention steps in our plants. We continue to work with DAFM, Unions, HSE, occupational health practitioners, farm suppliers, other suppliers and customers to keep our employees safe and healthy in this unprecedented time, while delivering much-needed food to supermarket shelves and avoiding significant animal welfare issues on farms," the company concluded.
Rosderra is continuing to operate at a reduced capacity.