Work Safely Protocol updated as employees return to the workplace

Noel Collins

September 24 2021

Last updated: September 24th, 2021

This was an important week for employers in Ireland as workplace restrictions relaxed for many businesses.

Whilst employees should continue to work from home where possible, this change allows certain employees to return to the workplace on a phased and staggered basis for specific business requirements. Furthermore, the requirement to work from home will be lifted on October 22nd, which will end the requirement for certain employees to work remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland.

Accompanying the phased return is an updated Work Safely Protocol. Below, we look at the key points for employers to take note of.

Updated Work Safely Protocol

While the updated Work Safely Protocol was announced the same day as employees began returning to their workplaces on a phased basis, it does include changes that affect businesses that have already reopened.

Some of the most important points are:

  • Two-metre physical distancing and the wearing of masks will remain in place for the time being with changes expected from October 22nd.
  • Measures such as exercising good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene, etc., will remain in place.
  • Employee interactions outside of the workplace should remain limited, such as congregating in shops when buying lunch and in particular social settings.
  • The processing or requesting of information on an employee’s vaccination status must be done in accordance with data protection (GDPR) rules.
  • Employers should ensure suitable ventilation in the workplace, regardless of building occupancy. However, air recirculation system settings must be disabled where possible.
  • Whilst the Protocol has removed references to “cocooning” employees, “high risk” workers who are particularly vulnerable should continue to work remotely where possible and should receive particular support if required to return to the workplace.
  • Business trips should be limited to “those that are necessary”. Workers should wear masks and be supplied with cleaning equipment when sharing a vehicle.
  • As workplaces reopen, employers should be particularly mindful of requirements to provide COVID-19 safety training to employees in addition to contractors and other visitors who may be attending the workplace.

While the Work Safely Protocol is guidance on how to deal with COVID-19 in your workplace, it also sets out a minimum expectation from you as an employer. Individual employees must also play their part as we move one step closer to zero COVID restrictions.  

Lastly, it’s important to note that if, for example, Fáilte Ireland release updated guidance, it will work as a supplementary document to Work Safely Protocol.

Free DownloadOffice risk assessment template for COVID-19

Need help with your health & safety issues?

If you need guidance on ensuring your workplace adheres to the updated Work Safely Protocol, we can help. Speak with one of our health and safety consultants today on 0818 923 923

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