Health & safety slaughterhouse violations mounting

An investigation by Inspectie SZW shows that there is too little attention in making sure that safety is a priority for staff at 90 percent of the 217 slaughterhouse and meat processing ventures in cleaning machines. 

The inspectors say that there are too many cases in which workers risk their lives because machines are not safe. There is also a risk of catching infectious diseases.

At inspected ventures, some machines are not turned off properly, causing a risk of bodily injury by for example electrocution and getting trapped in the machines. Sharp knives in the machines are also a danger.

The inspectors also warn that there is a risk of the spread of viruses, parasites and bacteria because employees often take lunch breaks in their work clothes without disinfecting these first. Working with raw animal meat and organs is not sanitary.

Companies take a lot of measures to prevent these bacteria, which come from the blood and organs of cattle, from ending up in the meat. The staff themselves are not protected sufficiently, however, the inspectors say.

There were 488 health and safety code violations that the inspectors found in their investigation. In ten of these cases, the situation became so dangerous that the work was shut down pending an improvement of safety.

Companies have to take strict measures to ensure the safety of their cleaners, the inspectors have demanded. The next inspection will take place next year. Violations in the next inspection will mean that companies no longer receive warnings, but are immediately fined.