Lessons from Banham Poultry outbreak ‘will be acted on’
- Credit: PA
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has pledged to work with public health officials to ensure coronavirus outbreaks similar to that of Banham Poultry do not occur in other workplaces.
Just over a week after the first cases at the Attleborough meat plant were confirmed, more than 100 workers have now tested positive for Covid-19. Testing was initially focussed on staff working in the factory’s cutting room, but was subsequently extended to other parts of the business.
On Tuesday it was confirmed 104 employees had returned positive results out of 769 tested. In all, Banham Poultry employs 800 people.
And now HSE, the government body responsible for regulating safety and wellbeing in the workplace, says it is aware of the outbreak and will work to prevent them from happening elsewhere.
A spokesman for the agency added: “Where HSE is supporting the public health response to a declared outbreak, it will review how the business is controlling risks from transmission of the virus in the workplace.
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“At some locations where there has been an outbreak, HSE has already been dealing with concerns raised by workers; at other locations HSE has not had a previous involvement with virus risk control at the workplace.
“HSE is working with public health bodies and other government bodies including the Joint Biosecurity Centre and SAGE to make sure any lessons from these outbreaks are captured and acted on.”
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In relation to coronavirus, HSE’s role during the pandemic has been to ensure public health bodies understand whether workplace practices are contributing to transmission of the virus.
Where there are problems with transmission in the workplace, it will take enforcement action to make sure risks are brought under control.
Thus far, there has been no instance of factories closing following an outbreak because of action by HSE.
Earlier this week, Norfolk’s public health director, Dr Louise Smith, said contact tracing had only been completed in half the cases of Banham Poultry workers who tested positive for coronavirus,
It was also revealed that a company would be brought in to redo NHS Test and Trace work, with the county council keen to tackle the problem locally, rather than relying on the national system.