Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly TD has this morning published legislation to make workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 notifiable to the Health and Safety Authority, in line with the recommendation in this regard of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
She has said that 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 happened in some workplaces during the lockdown period.
“I have been compelled to publish this legislation due to the failure of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to use her powers under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act to amend regulations to provide that occurrences of Covid-19 in the workplace would be notifiable to the Health and Safety Authority.
“The Irish Congress of Trade Unions have been to the fore of campaigning for this change and they have written to Minister Humphreys and to the Minister for Health on a number of occasions requesting this simple change; which can be done by amending regulations.
“Incidences of Covid-19 in workplaces such as meat plants and health facilities were rife during the lockdown period and many, many workers were put in danger because of the rapid development of clusters.
“One of the reasons for this is that outbreaks of Covid-19 are currently not a notifiable occupational illness to the HSA due to a lacuna in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act .
“At the stroke of a pen, Minister Humphreys could change this. Unfortunately, it appears that she is not disposed to making this change.
“As a result, I feel compelled to publish this piece of legislation – the aim of which is to protect workers in all workplaces, whether that be in meat plants, care homes, building sites, or office blocks in the IFSC.
“I sincerely hope that the Minister will amend the necessary regulations and that this legislation will not be needed. However, if the Minister does not take the necessary steps to protect workers, then Sinn Féin will move this Bill in the Dáil as soon as possible.”