Thursday, 24 September 2020

Questions (262)

Bríd Smith


262. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if his Department was notified by a company (details supplied) of a Covid-19 outbreak; if so, when; the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26174/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will no doubt appreciate I am not in a position to comment on individual cases or outbreaks in order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those involved.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Department of Health does not receive direct notification from companies of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the workplace. The Departments of Public Health within the Health Service Executive (HSE) respond to notified cases or outbreaks of Covid-19. A risk assessment of the situation is carried out and appropriate investigations are undertaken and control measures put in place. If Public Health determines there is an outbreak, an Outbreak Control Team is convened who would then advise on control measures.

I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to the “Return to Work Safely Protocol - COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers” which was published on 9 May, 2020 by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It provides clear guidance to employers and to workers on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol is mandatory, and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy. Specific sectors may need to introduce additional safeguards, but this document sets out the standard set of measures to provide protection against the threat of COVID-19. It is a matter for the employer to make decisions relating to actions to be taken in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in a workplace. This should be described in the COVID-19 Response Plan to be developed by all employers and which is a requirement of the Protocol.

The National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk settings - Food Processing and Construction sector was established in August 2020 to maintain an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 in high risk industries. The membership of this Committee includes relevant Government Departments and Agencies to ensure a cross Government approach is taken to such sectors.