Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that an increased number of Health and Safety Authority workplace inspections is needed now more than ever.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“There are many workers on the frontline who are concerned for their health and safety, and that of their families, as they begin to return to work.
“Their concerns must not only be addressed, but the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) must stand ready to be proactive in their on-site inspections, and responsive to complaints made by workers about unsafe workplaces and practices.
“With fewer people working on-site due to the new public health restrictions, the HSA must ensure that it maximises the number of workplace inspections and ensures that those sectors still operating are in complete compliance with the necessary health and safety regulations.
“During this new lockdown, we need to see a proactive and preventative system of trying to stop the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces.
“Three changes are essential to ensuring that cases of Covid-19 do not develop into clusters in workplaces:
- an increase in the number of inspections by the Health and Safety Authority;
- an end to all announced HSA inspections; and,
- making Covid-19 a notifiable workplace illness.
“All three can be done immediately, without legislation.
“The role of the HSA, the body responsible for enforcing health and safety law, promoting accident prevention, and providing information and advice, is essential to ensure workers are kept safe and the Covid-19 “Return to Work Safely Protocol” protocol is adhered to.
“With fewer sectors operational under the new public health guidelines, the HSA must be proactive in increasing the number of on-site inspections, and also responsive to complaints made by workers about unsafe workplaces and practices.
“Furthermore, the HSA should not be engaged in announced inspections. Announced inspections seem to have been the privilege of the meat industry; they cannot be a feature of HSA inspections during this lockdown period.
“Finally, the Tánaiste needs to immediately sign regulations to make Covid19 a notifiable workplace illness that is reportable to the HSA.
“The Government has already supported my Bill to do this in the Dáil, however, it is clear that was in an effort to stall the debate on the matter as An Tánaiste Varadkar can do this immediately by way of regulation, but has so far refused.
“We need to see that regulation signed as a matter of urgency.
“All workers, regardless of where they work, deserve to be protected from this virus, and the HSA has a key role in delivering that protection.”