HSE and HSA approve reopening of Carroll Cuisine food plant in Offaly
Operations were temporarily suspended at the facility on Monday.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have approved the reopening of the Carroll Cuisine food plant in Tullamore after operations were suspended at the facility on Monday (10 August).
The reopening has been approved after tests on 210 employees working at the Carroll Cuisine facility in Tullamore on Sunday all came back negative and extensive measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were approved by both health authorities.
As a result, Carroll Cuisine said it “will begin carefully and gradually resuming operations on a phased basis over the coming week”.
The facility temporarily suspended operations on Monday, having initially been the only one of four meat factories not to have done so following the implementation of restrictions pertaining to Kildare, Laois and Offaly last Friday (7 August).
The introduction of those localised restrictions were prompted by a spike in Covid-19 cases in the three counties in the previous fortnight, a spike largely attributed to outbreaks in food processing facilities.
Aside from the 210 employees tested on Sunday, Carroll Cuisine says its remaining workforce aren’t based at its facility in Tullamore and haven’t attended it since eligible employees began working from home on 11 March, resulting in no requirement for precautionary testing unless any symptoms are identified.
Carroll Cuisine currently employs a total of 330 people.
The company added that, in total, nine of its employees in total had tested positive for Covid-19, the first of whom was confirmed as positive on 31 July after initially feeling unwell and contacting their GP.
When informed of the case, the company said it immediately arranged to test everyone using an independent laboratory service.
As a result, a further eight employees tested positive and are self-isolating, while colleagues who had been working alongside them also went into self-isolation.
Carroll Cuisine said that the following measures are in place in its food processing operations to prevent the spread of the virus:
- Staff have been segregated into separate production pods and teams, in order to limit any potential for positive tests.
- Staggered working hours to reduce the number of staff required on site at any given time.
- Break times are staggered to reduce engagement and crowding in common spaces.
- Additional canteen facilities have been created for separation and social distancing.
- Additional PPE has been introduced for staff such as face masks and face shields.
- Regular deep cleaning of facilities in addition to all other ongoing, comprehensive hygiene, health and safety practices.
- Additional hand sanitation facilities introduced.
- Multilingual education campaign for colleagues who speak another EU language.
- Multi-disciplinary Covid-19 team established to continue to research and review best practices.
- Company app developed to allow employees to test and declare their health status before coming to work.
- All employees issued with an electronic thermometer and check-in on company app before they can come on-site, to ensure no symptoms.
- At all times, the facility operates to the highest standards of safety and quality.
A statement by Carroll Cuisine read: “Management and all staff are engaged on a constant basis in dealing with this matter. Our own specific situation has not escalated further, however this also means we are doubling and redoubling our efforts to stop any spread of the virus and staying constantly vigilant.
“Given the nature of the Coronavirus, we are acutely aware that a positive result can occur at any time, as we have a large workforce, but we have shown that the strong and rigorous procedures we have in place do work to contain the spread, and this will allow us to continue working in a safe manner in the event of positive results being found.
“We will continue to adhere fully to HSA and HSE guidelines to ensure we protect our valued colleagues and the wider community. Only colleagues who have tested negative for the virus will be allowed access to our Tullamore facility.
“If any colleagues test positive for the virus at any later date, the full team they work with will go into quarantine. As all teams are segregated, this will allow our facility to continue operating as only the team or teams affected would need to isolate.
“We are very grateful to all our staff, our customers and our communities where we know there are extremely difficult circumstances for everyone. We will do everything in our power to continue operating in the safest possible manner throughout this ongoing pandemic.”
Main image via Facebook/Carroll's of Tullamore