A revised Work Safely Protocol has been published by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today following the most recent public health advice received by Government earlier this week.
The core public health measures that have kept workplaces safe throughout the pandemic, such as the need to maintain the requirement for physical distancing, the wearing of masks and ventilation remain unchanged. These measures, which have been reviewed by employers and employee representative groups, remain critical to preventing the spread of Covid-19.
The Tánaiste said the pandemic unfortunately isn't over yet and we’re going to have to get through another winter before we can safely say that it’s behind us.
The Work Safely Protocol reiterates the importance of the basic measures, making sure indoor spaces are well ventilated, the importance of acting fast, self-isolating and getting tested if you're experiencing symptoms, social distancing and mask wearing when appropriate. It also emphasises the role of the Lead Worker Representative, appointed to work with the employer to keep everyone safe.
"I know some may be nervous about returning to the office. We are taking a very cautious, phased approach. This Protocol will help make sure employers and their staff have the guidance to protect against the virus and keep places of work safe," the Tánaiste said.
In line with public health advice, the return to physical attendance in workplaces should continue to take place on a phased and cautious basis appropriate to each sector and for specific business requirements. A cautious and careful return to workplaces should take into account appropriate attendance levels, with the use of staggered arrangements such as non full-time attendance and flexible working hours, and that attendance is for specific business requirements.
Damien English, Minister for Business, Employment and Retail, said: "With the further easing of restrictions and the sense of hope that it brings for people and businesses across the country, it is important the Work Safely Protocol remains in place and the guidelines for workplace safety are re-stated at this time.
"By working together on implementing public health infection control measures, workers and their employers bring about the best way to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in their own workplace. The role of the Lead Worker Representative in an organisation will continue to be crucial, and together with the employer will assist in the implementation of and monitor adherence to the measures in the Protocol."