Shannon Chamber would advise all member and non-member companies in Shannon and throughout the Mid-West region to familiarise themselves with the updated Work Safely Protocol published by An Tánaiste.
The updated Work Safely Protocol contains guidance on ventilation, vaccinations and antigen testing to protect workers and help people get back to work, and reflects the most up to date public health advice for the workplace. It sets out the range of measures required to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, including information on how to approach the use of antigen testing.
The Protocol is a revision of the Return to Work Safely Protocol published in May 2020. This revised Protocol incorporates the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community and workplaces as issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health.
It is a general document applicable to all sectors. It is not designed to prohibit the introduction of further specific measures in particular sectors or workplaces. Further specific measures can be introduced as long as they enhance the measures set out in the Protocol.
It sets out the minimum measures required in every place of work to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to facilitate the re-opening of workplaces following temporary closures and the ongoing safe operation of those workplaces. The revision of the Protocol was necessary to reflect new knowledge and understanding of what additional measures are available to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces.
The main updated Public Health advice includes information on wearing of masks, ventilation of workplaces and antigen testing and the how a testing regime might be introduced and what both employers and employees should do, if such testing is deemed necessary. These are areas where knowledge has developed since the start of Pandemic. The Protocol contains links directing employers and employees to a range of Government Departments and Agencies where additional and more detailed information and guidance can be sourced.
The Health and Safety Authority will remain the lead Agency in relation to co-ordinating compliance with the Work Safely Protocol. It will continue to be supported in this role by inspectors from a range of other Government Departments and State Bodies. The Health and Safety Authority together with these other inspectorates have carried out nearly 33,000 Covid-19 inspections around compliance with the Protocol since May 2020. In addition, the Government has made additional funding of €4m available to the Health and Safety Authority for its 2021 budget. This will largely be used by the Health and Safety Authority to set up a new Occupational Health Division which will co-ordinate, and focus on, the Authority’s response to the management of Covid-19 in the workplace.
Shannon Chamber would welcome any feedback on the revised Protocol. Should members have concerns on any aspect of the Protocol, we will be happy to engage with An Tánaiste’s office on your behalf.