31 Aug 2021

back to work

ICTU News Release

August 31, 2021


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said today (Aug. 31) that ensuring workers can “return to the workplace safely must be a top priority” for Government plans on the lifting of Covid 19 restrictions and reopening the wider economy. 

Speaking in response to the publication of the official plan, Congress General Secretary Patricia King said: “Our top priority is ensuring that workers are enabled to return to their workplace safely. In that respect, it is imperative that employers adhere to the updated provisions set out by the Health and Safety Authority and which are included in the National Return to Work Safely Protocol. 

“To help prevent the spread of Covid-19 these measures include adequate ventilation systems, including access to fresh air, to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission indoors in situations where workers may be in close contact for long periods of time and working in poorly ventilated areas.”

Ms. King said that good ventilation is an “essential component of a hierarchy of risk controls that also includes other prevention measures, such as vaccinations, physical distancing, cleaning, mask-wearing, good hand, and respiratory hygiene.

“In addition, the use of flexible and staggered work arrangements - including ‘Blended Work’ models - will be critical in ensuring compliance with these health and safety measures to keep workers safe. The measures will also assist in safeguarding those workers who avail of public transport and will help to reduce overcrowding on such services at peak times.

“However, this suite of measures will only prove effective if employers are required to implement them,” Ms. King said. 

She noted that Congress will continue its advocacy on these key issues with government officials, over the coming days.