The Work Safely Protocol is a revision of the Return to Work Safely Protocol published in May 2020. The revised Protocol incorporates the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community and workplaces as issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Department of Health and Government.
The Protocol is a general document applicable to all sectors. It sets out the minimum measures required in every place of work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to facilitate the re-opening of workplaces following temporary closures and the ongoing safe operation of those workplace.
The revision of the Protocol was necessary to reflect the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 Plan for Living with COVID-19, which was published in September.
The Work Safely Protocol is the result of a collaborative effort, led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and involving primarily the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), with significant input by public health from the Department of Health and the Health Services Executive (HSE).
The updating of the Protocol was also carried out in consultation with the social partner members of the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF), other Government Departments who are involved with carrying out COVID-19 inspections based on the Protocol and the Department of the Taoiseach. The original Return to Work Safely Protocol has been strongly supported by social partners since its launch in May as has this revision of the Protocol and the social partners have given significant, and practical, support to workplaces in relation to the implementation of the new organisational structures and measures set out in the Protocol.
The main updated Public Health advice includes information on the management and control of outbreaks, selection of hand sanitisers, wearing of masks, ventilations of workplaces. These are areas where knowledge has developed since the start of the pandemic.
The Protocol contains weblinks directing employers and employees to a range of Government Departments and Agencies where additional and more detailed information and guidance can be sourced. On foot of the publication of the Work Safely Protocol, all businesses and sectors who have specific guidance are required to review and update their guidance in line with the advice contained in this document.
The Health and Safety Authority, in parallel with the publishing of the Protocol, will issue new checklists and templates which are used by employers and employees in the implementation of the Protocol.
Work Safely online courses, templates and checklists
The HSA Return to Work Safely online courses includes a course to help understand the requirements under the Protocol and a course for those appointed Lead Worker Representative.
The HSA COVID-19 templates and checklists, based on the Protocol, have been prepared to help employers, business owners and managers to get their business up and running again and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.