Employees at a north-east meat processing plant which was the scene of a serious Covid outbreak last year claim little has be done to improve working conditions.
Staff at the Kepak McIntosh Donald factory in Portlethen, near Aberdeen, say they are scared to come to work as bosses are failing to enforce Covid regulations.
One employee said they stay in their bedroom when they get home after a shift, as they are worried about the wellbeing of their family.
The plant was the scene of a Covid outbreak in November, with 87 cases linked to the site.
Second outbreak real possibility
Despite the outbreak being subjected to a multi-agency investigation, two employees have told the Press and Journal of little having changed since then, and claim a second major outbreak is a real possibility.
One member of staff said they knew of five people – from a department of 30 – who are currently at home isolating after testing positive for Covid.
“All that has changed since the November outbreak is they’ve put in a one-way system and some signs,” they said.
“But the signs are very often ignored and the rules aren’t enforced.
“The toilets are quite small and at times there’s about 15 people in there, pretty much crammed together.
A lot of us in work are pretty worried now, particularly those with children – they’re obviously nervous about how their families might be affected.”
“A lot of people don’t wear masks and there’s often little to no social distancing – people’s shoulders are even touching as they work.
“There are some people who I’m pretty sure should be isolating right now but who are in there working, which is a bit of a concern to say the least.
“A lot of us in work are pretty worried now, particularly those with children – they’re obviously nervous about how their families might be affected.”
‘I dread going into that place every day at the moment’
Another employee, who returned a positive Covid test earlier this month, said: “Social distancing is not enforced – even though there are now several signs up, not many people adhere to them.
“People wander around without masks on, and even on the production line people stand there without a mask on.
“We get our temperature taken in the morning before we enter the main building but there have been times when it doesn’t work, yet people are still allowed in to start work.
“It’s affecting my life outside of work – I stay in my bedroom most of the time as I fear I’m going to take something home and give it to my family.
“I dread going into that place every day at the moment, you just don’t know what’s around the corner.”
Small number of Covid cases at McIntosh Donald
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian said: “We are aware of a small number of cases of Covid-19 associated with staff at McIntosh Donald.
“We are working closely with management at the plant and they are keeping us informed and assured regarding the safety measures they have in place.
“It should be noted that close contacts are determined by the local contact tracing team, not any businesses or individuals.”
Kepak McIntosh Donald said in a statement: “Kepak continues to work diligently to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of staff and suppliers throughout the current pandemic by implementing a wide range of Covid-19 protective measures and protocols at each of our sites across the UK,
“These stringent protocols are constantly reviewed and updated to ensure compatibility and adherence with the latest measures put in place by the UK Government, while our local site teams remain fully engaged with the relevant health authorities.
“As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve and we learn more about the virus, we have updated our procedures and transferred the learnings across the business.”