Complaints have been filed against 336 companies for failing to adhere to coronavirus guidelines during a two-and-a-half-month period of the pandemic.
From May 5 to July 17, 2020, the NI Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) conducted 374 company inspections, 372 of which were unannounced.
The organization had been criticized for failing to inspect businesses to ensure that security measures were being followed.
HSENI said no company was forced to stop work due to violations.
In the majority of cases, there was a high level of compliance with the Public Health Agency’s guidance on safe measures to combat Covid-19, HSENI said.
“In most sites, compliance has been achieved through verbal advice or instructions,” a spokesperson said.
“Where sanctions have been requested, these range from letters demanding action within agreed time frames to notices of execution. ”
Although multiple complaints can be made against a company, each complaint was investigated separately, the spokesperson added.
“The inspectors will also take note of the number of complaints registered against a company and the common areas of concern raised. “
Delay in inspections
Until May 4, all Covid-related complaints to HSENI were handled ‘remotely’ – with measures supposed to include providing advice over the phone and looking for evidence of compliance with social distancing guidelines from images sent by e-mail by the companies concerned.
It was reported that complaints against some 480 companies were received by HSENI between March 16 and May 4.
Since May 4, HSENI has been making unannounced site visits.
Concerns were raised over the issue of workplace inspections following the death of a worker at poultry giant Moy Park who contracted Covid-19.
Moy Park said important security measures had been in place for some time and were being strictly followed.
There had also been evidence of outbreaks among workers at a number of other meat processing plants.
All the companies involved said they had introduced strict protection measures and complied with official guidelines.