Pork processor Cranswick has confirmed that the three members of staff have died due to COVID-19 infection at it sliced meat factory at Wombwell, in Barnsley.
In total, nine employees tested positive for the virus at the site, which employs around 1,200 people, three of which sadly died. Of the other six, one is making a good recovery in hospital and the rest have either returned to work or are due to return soon.
The outbreaks occurred earlier in the COVID-19 epidemic – the workers who died had last been on the site on March 29, April 6 and April 7. There have been no confirmed cases recently at the site, which has continued to operate, with revised processes and protocols in place that have satisfied the relevant authorities.
In a statement, a Cranswick spokesperson said: “The health and safety of all of our colleagues is our number one priority and we are doing everything we can to protect our workforce. Sadly, three of our colleagues have passed away with COVID-19.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with their families and we are providing full support to them and to all of our colleagues directly affected by COVID-19.”
The spokesperson said the company had, from the outset of the pandemic, ‘implemented additional measures to protect both the physical and mental wellbeing of our people’.
These include social distancing measures where practical at all 16 of Cranswick’s sites, additional cleaning and hygiene measures and recommended PPE for all employees in line with PHE and WHO guidelines, recently including optional face visors for production staff to provide added reassurance.
The company has offered support such as counselling and occupational health services to employees. All employees have been told not to attend work if they, or anyone they live with, have any symptoms.
“We continue to work with the relevant regulatory bodies including the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), PHE (Public Health England), the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and local EHO representatives (Environmental Health Officers) during these challenging times,” the spokesperson said.
Aside from the cluster of cases at Wombwell, there have been very few cases elsewhere across the Cranswick network.
The spokesperson said the company’s staff has ‘provided an amazing service during a very difficult period’ and that the focus would continue to he on ensuring their wellbeing.
“Cranswick employees are designated key workers and are at the forefront of maintaining vital supplies of fresh food into the supermarkets. We are doing everything we can to protect them while they carry out this critical role,” he said.