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Bosses should ‘hang their heads in shame’ say workers at Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions near Grantham

Workers at an engineering firm have spoken out about concerns over “unsafe” practices as several employees have tested positive for Covid-19.

A significant number of employees of Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions have contacted the Journal in the past week, calling for better safety measures in their place of work.

We understand 12 employees have tested positive since the start of January, with a further 17 self-isolating. The Belton company has refused to confirm this.

Autocraft Drivetrain is located in Belton. Photo: Google (34394508)
Autocraft Drivetrain is located in Belton. Photo: Google (34394508)

Employee Chris O’Connor passed away after contracting the virus, but this has not been confirmed as the cause of death.

A further worker is believed to be in hospital and receiving oxygen.

It is the third time members of the Autocraft workforce have openly voiced their concerns. We reported in May how staff felt social distancing rules were “ignored” by the company, while in November a worker said no masks, screens or temperature checks were in place and colleagues of staff testing positive were allowed to continue to work.

This week, a worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Autocraft’s approach to health and safety in the workplace and the safety of their employees is a disgrace.

“They should hang their heads in shame.”

Another worker claimed temperature checks only began to be carried out last week and masks became mandatory on Monday.

They said: “The company needs to be held accountable as it is their responsibility to keep all their employees safe.”

A third employee called for Autocraft to “start putting the safety of their staff first” and questioned why screens had not been introduced in canteens. He also claimed tables in the canteen were not cleaned in between breaks.

He added: “All the employees that have tested positive have been in just the last four weeks.

“Surely now that the situation has got so bad, Autocraft should be bringing in a company to do a deep clean and letting the rest of the staff go and get tested, and also self-isolate, and then reopen.”

A fourth staff member said: “We had a letter come out today to say they are Covid-secure. It’s a joke and things are getting out of hand.”

The Journal has this week put several questions to Autocraft’s co-owners and chairman. These were not answered, instead co-owner and managing director Steve Harris responded with a statement.

He said: “Our priority as a business is the health and safety of our employees and we have followed carefully and implemented all of the measures recommended by Government.”

He added that Autocraft worked with the Government at the beginning of the pandemic to develop Covid-19 industry regulations and has “followed cross industry guidance from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Covid-19 Taskforce”.

Mr Harris added: “Autocraft has recently been audited on its implementation of Covid-19 secure requirements by both the Health and Safety Executive and British Standards Institute. Neither of these audits found any breaches of legislation nor did they recommend any improvements to be made.”

As reported on page 27, large employers in Lincolnshire will be required to carry out asymptomatic rapid Covid testing.

Mr Harris confirmed lateral flow testing would begin at the factory in the coming weeks “which will see all Grantham employees tested weekly”.

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