April 23, 2020
‘Stringent checks’ needed on opened construction sites – Ruairí Ó Murchú TD

The re-opening of construction sites in the Dundalk area has been raised by Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú who said that ‘stringent protections and checks’ have to be guaranteed to ensure the safety of workers.

The Dundalk TD said he had been contacted by construction workers in the Louth area earlier this week who raised concerns about the re-opening of social housing building sites in the county, including the Green Gates Manor one, near Blackrock.

Mr Ó Murchú said;

“I am not objecting to the reopening of ‘small and nearly complete’ social housing sites, ahead of the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown but rather am seeking assurance that a series of checks and protections to be put in place to guarantee the safety of construction workers.

“I have written to Louth County Council to highlight my concerns and have been informed that the re-opening of sites only applied to a small number in Louth and a larger number had wanted to reopen but didn’t meet the criteria.

“This is another example of the government’s failure to communicate effectively with opposition parties and communities as the re-opening of construction sites was only publicised when it started to happen.

“I was contacted by construction workers who said they felt under pressure to return to work on building sites that were opening, despite the lockdown.

“They were worried about the nature and extent of Covid-19 safety measures that were going to be put in place and, importantly, how the sites were going to be policed. Who are they able to complain to if things are going wrong, if things are not being done properly?

“I have written to Louth County Council about the Green Gates Manor site, asking whether the contractor has submitted a written Covid-19 safety statement, outlining how social distancing and other measures to protect workers will be implemented.

“The contractor should also be able to detail how those working at the site will travel to and from work, with due regard for the current pandemic regulations and there should be consultation, on an ongoing basis, with trade unions in the sector.

“The Health and Safety Authority and the HSE have a part to play in all of this by carrying out unannounced inspections on the sites.

“I have also stated that no site should be allowed to open without confirmation that they have adequate supplies of proper PPE and a confidential phone line should be provided for workers who need to report non-compliance with the public health advice, but are fearful of losing their jobs if they do so.

“Any contractor found to be in breach of the public health advice, should have their site shut down by the council.”

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