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Covid-19 Pandemic

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 16 September 2021

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Ceisteanna (265)

Holly Cairns

Ceist:

265. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice if she will ensure that all staff in her Department and public bodies and agencies that operate under her remit who, by necessity of their work, have to come into close proximity with others, including other employees or members of the public, are provided with medical grade masks in the EN14683 category; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44378/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is committed to providing a safe working environment for all staff and members of the public who interact with staff in the provision of services. In that regard, it follows the relevant guidance from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Health Service Executive and the Health and Safety Authority.

There are a number of areas in my Department where staff are in front-line, public-facing roles, primarily in the area of Immigration Service Delivery. 

Where work cannot be carried out behind a screen and closer contact is required with members of the public, medical face masks in the EN14683 category are provided to staff in accordance with occupational health and safety risk assessments. Instruction on how to properly use and dispose of face masks is also provided.

As all the public services provided by my Department require the wearing of face coverings, these are provided to members of the public and visitors to the Department, where necessary. These face coverings are not medical grade. The agencies, bodies and offices under my remit, whose services require the wearing of face coverings, operate under the same overarching risk assessment principles.

The Irish Prison Service has a number of controls in place for staff including the compulsory wearing of medical grade masks and COVID awareness education. An Garda Síochána also has a large supply of medical grade masks which meet the EN14683 standard readily available to all staff.

I am informed that the Courts Service, as part of its Covid-19 Safety Management Programme, has adequate stocks of EN14683 standard masks available and accessible to staff, judiciary and members of the public should they require them.

Under the Probation Service’s existing COVID-19 protocols, Probation Officers meet with clients behind screens, and have additional preventative measures in place including sanitising, additional cleaning, and social distancing. In relation to staff, all offices have been risk assessed and the relevant control measures are in place and allow for social distancing.  Medical grade masks are not supplied.

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