The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, has published the National “Return to Work Safely Protocol”. The Protocol clearly and comprehensively sets out the steps and processes that businesses must take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
The Protocol was developed and agreed in consultation with the members of the Labour Employer Economic Forum, which is the forum for high-level dialogue between government, and union and employer representatives on labour market issues. Participants in this process included Ibec, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Chambers Ireland and the Construction Industry Federation. It is the result of a collaborative effort, led by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and involving the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Department of Health and the HSE.
The HSA will be the lead agency in terms of overseeing compliance with the Protocol in the workplace.
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said:
This Protocol is a critical component of the Government’s Roadmap for reopening the economy as we gradually lift the COVID-19 restrictions. It very clearly sets out the steps that businesses and workers should take to ensure that they can return to work safely.
Collaboration between employers and workers will be central to the success of our return to work. That’s why we have specified in the Protocol that they should have regular engagement about the preventative measures in the workplace.
The Protocol is mandatory and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy. Obviously, specific sectors may need to introduce additional safeguards, but this document sets the standard set of measures required in every workplace.
I am aware that many sectors have already developed detailed COVID-19 return-to-work plans that capture most, if not all, of the measures in the Protocol, and would like to acknowledge and thank them for their work.
Similarly, I would like to acknowledge that many critical and essential businesses have continued to operate during the pandemic with the appropriate safeguards in place.
The following requirements, among others, are included in the Protocol:
Minister Humphreys concluded: The HSA will take a collaborative approach the first instance as they oversee implementation of the Protocol.