Health and safety inspectors have conducted hundreds of checks at workplaces since Monday this week, when Covid-19 work restrictions were eased.
Business Minister Heather Humphreys told the Dáil this evening that 240 inspections had been carried out between Monday and Wednesday this week. This included meat plants, she said.
In the majority of inspections, employers had been complying with the Covid-19 safety recommendations, she told the Dáil.
This follows confirmation by health authorities on Tuesday that some 828 positive virus cases have been confirmed in meat plants. This was an increase of over 300 in just a few days.
Mr Humphreys also told the Dáil this evening hundreds more staff would be made available to the Health and Safety Authority, who are responsible for the workplace checks. These would come from the Department of Agriculture among others.
However, Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue criticised Ms Humphreys and her colleague Agriculture Minister Michael Creed for failing to give up to date figures on meat plant infections. Furthermore, he questioned why it had not been acknowledged mistakes had been made.
“There have been clear mistakes in how this has been handled,” insisted Mr McConalogue
Padraig O'Sullivan also asked for a guarantee for meat plants to be deep-cleaned where there were positive cases.
Eamon O'Cuiv warned that it was meat factories today but it could be another enterprise today.
Mr Creed insisted that responsibility for the concerns lay with workplace inspectors. He added:
“As part of the whole of Government response to the pandemic, my Department will continue to contribute to the HSE-chaired National Outbreak Control Team and will provide any support required to the HSE at local and national level. My Department has assisted in the dissemination of the HSE guidance to the DAFM approved meat plants.”