October 6, 2020
Sinn Féin introduce health and safety bill to help protect workers from Covid-19 – Louise O’Reilly TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has today introduced a Bill to protect the health and safety of workers by making workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 notifiable to the Health and Safety Authority.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“The proactive notification and surveillance of Covid-19 is key to ensuring that we do not end up with clusters of the virus in workplaces as has been happening throughout the pandemic.

“Some people might be shocked to learn that workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 are currently not a notifiable occupational illness to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) due to a lacuna in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

“The purpose of the Bill is to protect workers in their workplaces by making a straightforward amendment to the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act to make workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 notifiable to the Health and Safety Authority.

“I published this Bill earlier in the summer in the hope that the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment would use his powers to amend regulations to provide that occurrences of Covid-19 in the workplace would be notifiable to the HSA.

“At the stroke of a pen Tánaiste Varadkar could have made this change, however, he has continuously refused to do so.

“As a result, throughout the pandemic we have seen the rapid development of Covid-19 clusters in workplaces such as meat plants and health facilities.

“The aim of the legislation is to prevent against these mass outbreaks in the workplace and protect all workers, whether they be in meat plants, care homes, building sites, or office blocks in the IFSC.

“Ordinary frontline workers are being put in danger because of the failure of the Tánaiste to legislate for this.

“Therefore, I am compelled to pursue the health and safety of workers through this Bill here today.”

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