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Orlaigh Quinn (Dept of Business) and Julie Sinnamon (Enterprise Ireland) entering Leinster House today.

Zero notices issued to employers following 800 back-to-work Covid-19 checks

Labour TD Ged Nash expressed concern about the figures this afternoon.

CONCERN HAS BEEN raised in the Dáil that no compliance notices for errors in return-to-work rules have been issued by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) following some 800 Covid-19 inspections.

All businesses that are reopening following the easing of restrictions have to comply with the mandatory return-to-work health and safety protocols.

Among other things, they have to ensure strict adherence to social distancing, provide hand sanitiser, monitor their employees’ temperatures and create designated isolation areas for workers who might fall ill over the course of the working day.

Speaking today at the Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Committee, Labour TD Ged Nash expressed concern that no compliance notices have yet been issued as businesses reopen. 

Secretary General of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation Dr Orlaigh Quinn said that between various departments agencies, there are “500 plus” inspectors available to conduct checks.

“We have also said if further inspectors resources are required we will look at that again. Each of the inspectors will be trained by the Health and Safety Authority and they will use the same standard approach and we will operate on that basis,” she said. 

Asked by Nash how many Covid-19 return-to-work protoocol checks have so far been carried out, Quinn said it was in the region of 800. 

Up to now, the Health and Safety Authority have done, I think my last figures was something like 1,100 or so inspections and of those 800-odd were specifically related to Covid.

“My understanding is they’re very satisfied with the level of compliance to date, and they have been very much working on the engagement side, training, all of the supports put in place to make sure that employers work. They’ve also been developing very specific guidance, as you know, part of the return-to-work protocol is there’s a worker representative, so they’ve been working very specifically on training for that person,” she said. 

Labour 166 Labour TD Ged Nash. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Nash however said the lack of compliance notices is a worry:

“So no compliance notices have been issued to date, because I know the Health and Safety Authority take a risk based approach to their inspections and work in a collaborative fashion with employers to try to ensure that all of the necessary protections are put in place. But I am a little concerned that at this point in time they haven’t felt the need to issue any compliance notice to any employers who may have erred. ”

The Louth TD also said that consideration should be classified as an occupational illness, such is the number of people contracting it in the workplace.

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