The national Return to Work Safely Protocol is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol should be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE and the Department of Health. It is operating in parallel with existing workplace health and safety statutory requirements.
The Health and Safety Authority is the lead Agency in relation to oversight and compliance with the Protocol. In line with Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, the Health and Safety Authority launched a national programme of inspections to check compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol. Authority inspectors were on the ground from that date enforcing compliance with the Protocol. As of close of business on the 29th of May at the end of week 2 of phase 1 of the Roadmap, and since 18 May 2020 when the economy began to slowly reopen, approximately 1000 inspections were completed across a range of industries. The Authority, based on its initial analysis of the inspections, found that compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol is high and employers are generally taking a responsible and proactive approach.
In addition to inspections the Health and Safety Authority continues to provide advice and support to employers and employees on how they are implementing the COVID-19 measures in the workplace as set out in the Protocol through its helpline, website and during site inspections. The Authority has also developed a range of checklists and templates which are available on its website for use by employers, workers and worker representatives, and further material is being developed. The Authority’s Inspectors have always and will continue to primarily use the model of advice, information and support when carrying out inspections.