A north-east fish firm has come under fire for failing to keep staff safe even after workers tested positive for coronavirus.
The Jack Fish Company has been criticised for its handling of a Covid outbreak at its factory on Peterhead’s Seagate.
Watchdogs found there were a lack of social distancing measures and a failure to review guidance to staff with symptoms even after Covid-19 was detected there.
A notice from the Health and Safety Executive read: “You have failed to make and give effect to such arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures to prevent the transmission of Covid 19 in your workplace.
“You have failed to put in place a suitable and sufficient cleaning regime; take measures to support social distancing in common areas; review your arrangements after Covid-19 was detected in your workplace, and to provide information and instruction to employees experiencing the symptoms of Covid-19.”
The fifth-generation family-run shellfish factory, believed to employ about 20 staff, has since made improvements.
Director, Ian Jack, said: “We took remedial action after the Health and Safety Executive visit. They were happy with how I dealt with it and closed the case.”
However, the scathing notice has raised concerns the firm was not proactive enough during the peak of the outbreaks in fish factories in mid-November.
Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said: “The majority of businesses have been putting a lot of effort into protecting staff and customers.
“It is therefore disappointing to hear that one of our local firms has failed to put basic procedures in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The advice from government and local public health teams has been very clear and I am surprised that the rules have not been followed in this case.
“I hope that the company will have reviewed its practices following this report to avoid any chance of this type of thing happening again.
“We all have to be extremely careful to reduce the spread of this virus as much as possible. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences”
Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, of which Jack Fish Co is one of around 80 members country-wide, said he was “very sympathetic” towards small companies like this which have struggled with “constantly changing legislation”.
“With the greatest of respect, it’s very easy for those who are in the know to come in and be critical of businesses,” Mr Buchan said.
“But none of us have faced this challenge before and we learn from these things.
“It’s all new to us and it’s very difficult for small businesses to be able to operate and try keep the doors open during Covid, and that’s before all the extra legislation. I’m not making excuses for anybody but that’s the pressures facing small businesses.”
Mr Buchan added that it’s up to individual workers, not just business bosses, to do their bit to help limit the spread in the industry.
He said: “We need to learn from these things and hope that we can improve.”