The Government published an updated work safely protocol. This is the third version since its initial publication in 2020.
The protocol covers the safety measures required to re-open workplaces following closure. The fourth edition of the protocol highlights further guidance on prevention and control measures including the following:
- further advice on hand hygiene, face masks/coverings and an expanded list of COVID-19 symptoms;
- the use of technology is encouraged to address attendance levels in workplaces and reduce overcrowding;
- face masks/coverings should be worn where in person meetings occur, though the advice is meetings should be virtual where possible;
- business trips should be limited to those “that are necessary”, and no longer need to be absolutely minimised;
- employers are also urged to read the latest Data Protection Commission advice on processing COVID-19 vaccination data in the context of employment and note there is currently no legal requirement for a worker to accept the offer of a vaccination or inform their employer of their choice;
- there is enhanced guidance on risk assessments, particularly around ventilation (e.g. the use of CO2 monitors and air cleaning systems as supplementary prevention and control measures).
- the requirement for each workplace to have a Lead Worker Representative is emphasised, including the importance of their role as workers return to workplaces to assist employers and workers to implement the Protocol and to act as a channel for worker concerns. The Protocol notes that if concerns continue about the implementation of the Protocol, workers may raise these with the Workplace Contact Unit of the Health and Safety Authority;
The updated Protocol also acknowledges that from October 22 the Government intends to lift the requirement to work from home, allowing a return to physical attendance in the workplace on a phased and cautious basis appropriate to each sector.
Employers are encouraged to keep up to date with public health guidance and to update their workplace literature, remote working and return to work policies accordingly. If you require further advice or assistance updating you policies and procedures please contact [email protected]