21/05/2020

Click here to view this briefing in PDF format.

In our briefing, available here, we set out the key obligations of employers and workers under the Protocol which supplements the existing health and safety framework in Ireland.

The Health and Safety Authority (“HSA”) has now published templates and checklists (available here), to assist employers, business owners and managers to get their businesses up and running again and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.  The templates and checklists are based on the employer and worker obligations under the Protocol and should be read in conjunction with the Protocol.

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, employers and employees both have a general duty of care to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of employees/colleagues as far as reasonably practicable.  The HSA advises that the templates and the checklists will help employers and workers to work together to ensure safety in the workplace.  Our Health and Safety Group’s briefing on HSA advice on COVID-19 is available here.

Templates

The HSA has provided a template Return to Work Form and COVID-19 Response Plan.  Under the Protocol employers must issue a pre-return to work form to workers to be completed at least 3 days in advance of a return to work.  The purpose of the form is to identify if the worker’s return to work poses any risk to themselves as an individual at higher risk from COVID-19 or to their colleagues, such as if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, are a close contact of a confirmed case or have been advised by a doctor to self-isolate or cocoon.  Depending on an employee’s response to the questions, their return to work may be delayed.

The template COVID-19 Response Plan details the policies and procedures necessary for employers to comply with the Protocol and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The plan will give an overview of the key areas that employers must assess to ensure compliance with the Protocol and to minimise risk to workers and others.  The template advises that the Plan is a “live working document and it should be reviewed on an ongoing basis” in line with new guidance from www.Gove.ie, www.dbei.ie, www.hse.ie, www.hpsc.ie, www.hsa.ie .

Checklists

The HSA has also prepared the following 7 checklists which reflect the obligations of businesses and workers as set out in the Protocol.

Employer Checklists Planning and Preparation
Control Measures to Prevent Infection
COVID-19 Induction
Dealing with a Suspected Case of COVID-19
Cleaning and Disinfection
Employee Checklist Workers
Worker Representative Worker Representative(s) Checklist

The checklists are provided for educational purposes only and are non-exhaustive.  The focus of the Employee and Worker Representative(s) Checklists are reflective of the emphasis in the Protocol of employer and worker collaboration and consultation in ensuring a safe workplace.

For further information on COVID-19 related issues arising in the workplace see our COVID-19: Practical Considerations: Updated FAQ which is available here.