COVID-19 Workplace Inspections
Update November 23rd:
The government has published updated guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace to staff. The Work Safely Protocol is a revision of the Return to Work Safely Protocol published in May 2020. The 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), the Department of Health and Government.
The main updated Public Health advice includes information on the management and control of outbreaks, selection of hand sanitisers, wearing of masks, ventilation of workplaces.
The updated document is available for download here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/bb7fd-work-safely-protocol/
As workplaces begin to open up, employers are implementing Their COVID–19 response plans, and ensuring compliance with the National Return to Work Safely Protocols as well as compliance with the Safety Health and Welfare at work act 2005. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the Government agency charged with primary responsibility to ensure employers are complaint with both of these, and has been inspecting workplaces to ensure employers are providing a safe place of work in light of COVID–19.
The HSA have committed to taking a collaborative approach to COVID–19compliance inspections, and will provide support and advise to employers in order to ensure compliance, however employers should remember that the HAS have the authority to shut down a workplace if non-compliance with the protocol document is found.
The national return to work safely protocol provisions may fall under the responsibilities of the employer under the Safety Health and Welfare at work act 2005. The 2005 Act contains numerous express duties for employers in relation to instruction, training, supervision, third parties/visitors, hazard identification, risk assessment, safety statements, representatives and consultation with employees. Any of the above categories of employer duties are arguably captured by the COVID-19 related actions in the Protocol.Employers should be mindful of potential actions, such as personal injury claims and an increase in protected disclosures related claims issued by employees in respect of any failures to comply with the Protocol.
The HSA have outlined the key questions they will be asking while conducting a workplace inspection.
- Has a COVID–19 response plan been prepared?
- Have your employees been given COVID–19 induction training?
- Are the COVID–19 control measures in the workplace adequate?
- Has a COVID–19 employee representative been appointed?
ISME have a full guide to preparing for a workplace inspections that includes possible questions that will be asked and areas that may be looked at.
View or Download the guide here.rd