Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has called on the Government to urgently convene the ‘National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk Workplace Settings’ to assess the workplace risk for workers in the food processing and construction sectors.
Speaking this morning, Teachta O’Reilly said:
“The ‘National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk Workplace Settings’ (NSOC) was established by the HSE in August to assess the risk to workers in the food processing and construction sectors of COVID-19.
“The establishment of the NSOC was a necessary response to the rapid development of virus clusters amongst workers in different workplaces across the food processing and construction sectors.
“It was clear, for a variety of reasons, that workers in these sectors were at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 unless additional and bespoke health and safety measures were put in place.
“With the rate the virus is currently transmitting in the community, workers in these sectors may again prove to be extremely vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 at work and spreading it further in the community.
“There are many workers concerned for their health and safety, and that of their families, as they begin to return to work – their concerns around the safety of workplaces, travel to and from work, and canteen and hygiene facilities, must be addressed at a national level and additional precautions put in place where necessary.
“The fact is that over the Christmas period the situation with COVID-19 has escalated, and there is now an urgent need to review the health and safety arrangements in place.
“With high levels of transmission in the community and the need to protect our health service from being overwhelmed, as well as protecting frontline healthcare workers, consideration has to be given to the safety of all workplaces.
“It is for that reason that the Government must urgently convene a meeting of the high level National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk Workplace Settings to assess the current risk facing the food processing and construction sector.”