Work Safely Protocol: Guidance on getting back to work updated

Stephanie Byrne-Roche

May 25 2021

New guidance has been published by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar to protect workers and help people get back to work.

The updated Work Safely Protocol reflects the most up-to-date public health advice for the workplace. It sets out the range of measures required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and includes guidance on ventilation, vaccinations, and antigen testing.

What is the Work Safely Protocol?

The Work Safely Protocol is a revision of the Return to Work Safely Protocol published in May 2020. The revision of the Protocol was necessary so additional measures could be added that will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.

The revised Protocol considers the current advice on the Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community and workplaces. This advice has been issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health.

Who does the Work Safely Protocol apply to?

The Protocol is a general document applicable to all businesses and sectors. It sets out the minimum measures required in every workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Implementing these measures will facilitate the reopening of workplaces following temporary closures as well as the ongoing safe operation of those workplaces.

The Protocol also allows for the introduction of further specific measures in particular sectors or workplaces. These measures can be introduced as long as they enhance the measures set out in the Protocol.

Free Download: Office risk assessment template for COVID-19

What does the latest update outline?

The main updated Public Health advice includes information on the wearing of masks, ventilation of workplaces, and antigen testing and the how a testing regime might be introduced if testing is deemed necessary. These are areas where knowledge has developed since the start of coronavirus pandemic.  

The Health and Safety Authority together with other state inspectorates have carried out nearly 33,000 COVID-19 inspections around compliance with the Protocol since May 2020. In addition, the government has made an extra €4m in funding available to the Health and Safety Authority for its 2021 budget. This will largely be used by the Health and Safety Authority to set up a new Occupational Health Division which will co-ordinate, and focus on, the Authority’s response to the management of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Video: Managing Vaccines in the Workplace

Need help with your health & safety issues?

For advice on any health & safety issue, whether that’s with regards to the Work Safely Protocol, carrying out a risk assessment, or staff training, speak with one of our health and safety consultants today on 0818 923 923

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