HSENI can confirm that the total number of complaints received between 16 March 2020 and 4 May 2020 that related to any one individual company was 481. The total number of complaints received also includes some multiple complaints against particular companies. However each complaint is investigated on an individual basis. Inspectors will also take note of the number of complaints logged against a company and the common areas of concern raised.
Up to the start of May all COVID-19 complaints were dealt with remotely. While HSENI was still conducting site visits, these were restricted to functions such as the investigation of fatalities. COVID-19 complaints were dealt with through a variety of means, not solely telephone or email. Some of these complaints required clarification of the public health guidance and others required changes in work practices to comply with the guidelines. The volume of complaints received by HSENI, although not just as high as they were, is still high and remains constant. There is still an ongoing need to deal with complaints remotely.
The roll out of strategic COVID-19 visits began on Monday 4 May 2020. These visits are initially being targeted at premises where there has previously been repeated complaints, including within the food processing sector. Part of the purpose of the visits it to determine that the early measures introduced by companies remain in compliance with public health guidelines. These are unannounced visits.
7 inspections were completed last week. This week, 29 inspections have been completed to date (13.5.20 at 1pm) and a 7 further agrifood visits have been planned before the end of the week.
HSENI currently employs 110 staff and qualified inspectors make up a 37 % of the staff. HSENI currently has 28 inspectors who are able to deploy in the field. Others who are not able to deploy in the field continue to respond to complaints remotely.
HSENI will continue in its efforts to ensure that there is compliance with the public health guidelines in the workplace. An employer's duty under the Health and Safety at work (NI) Order 1978 is to put in place safe systems of work which comply with current public health guidelines. In doing so, they are fulfilling their duty to manage the impact that this community disease can have within the work place.