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Scottish Sea Farms staff walk out over sickness
Published:  24 October, 2012

AN INVESTIGATION is continuing into the cause of a sickness which saw staff in the processing plant of a west coast of Scotland fish farm walk out over fears for their health.

Staff at Scottish Sea Farms site in Connel, left their posts on October 11 after feeling ill and coughing and vomiting.

One Scottish Sea Farms employee, who did not wish to be named, said the sickness had been ongoing for ‘two to three’ weeks.

The staff member has worked at the South Shian site, which employs 37 people in the processing area, for several years and has never experienced issues like this before.

He said: ‘Everyone in the processing area is coughing, vomiting and feeling like their chest is tight. Over 20 people are feeling ill on a daily basis.

‘There is usually at least seven people off per day. We tried to talk to bosses but were told it is because people smoke but some of the people getting ill don’t smoke.’

The employee, who was so worried about the situation he couldn’t sleep, feared it could be chemicals making staff ill.

He added: ‘We thought we should talk to management, we don’t want to be sick, we are all worried – we all have families and children.

‘We asked management again, they said people who have a problem can go home, people who don’t have a problem can stay.

‘Most of us left, I’d say about 98 per cent of staff left and went straight to the doctor who said it could be a public health problem.’

Argyll and Bute Council said they had been told of cases of a flu-like illness involving respiratory symptoms at the site by NHS Highland’s consultant in public health medicine.

A spokeswoman said: ‘Investigations carried out by the company, including visits from the council’s environmental health team and NHS Highland, have not identified a source.

‘Environmental health officers have examined company procedures and have not found any cause for concern.

‘Water sampling has not revealed any issues, and medical examination of the employees concerned has not highlighted anything indicating a single source.

‘The council continues to liaise with the company.’

A Scottish Sea Farms spokeswoman said at the time of the incident: ‘A number of our employees at the South Shian site have today been sent home feeling unwell.

‘We have carried out all the necessary health and safety checks and there is nothing untoward with the working conditions at the plant.’

The company continued processing as normal during the incident and had an occupational health nurse on site examining the remaining members of the workforce.




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