DATE: 8th January 2021
TO: All Mandate local representatives Dublin North Division
FROM: Robert McNamara, Divisional Organiser
John Callan, Industrial Officer
Eoin Griffin, Industrial Officer
RE: Important Update regarding Covid-19, Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 for Mandate Shop Stewards, House Committee Members and Health and Safety Representatives
Firstly we would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your families a Happy New Year, 2020 was an extremely challenging year and it would seem that 2021 will be no different.
As the situation with Covid-19 deteriorates it would seem that we are facing into a month of spiralling cases and a health service that will be severely challenged. Furthermore it has been widely reported that Public Health and in particular contact tracing is not able to investigate every case due to the high numbers.
We have been fielding a number of calls from members who remain at work regarding their rights at work and in particular their rights in relation to Safety, Health & Welfare at Work.
While there has been much talk about Covid Protocols and similar documents the governing piece of legislation in this area of workplace safety is The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This is one of the most radical pieces of legislation on the statute books in Ireland. Some important principles flowing from this are:
- Section 8(1) of the Act states the general duty of employers to employees as: “Every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees.”
- Section 13 imposes duties on employees while at work to comply with the relevant statutory provisions and take reasonable care to protect their own safety, health and welfare and that of any other person who may be affected by his/her acts or omissions.
- Section 11(2) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
(2) In the event of an emergency or serious and imminent danger, an employer shall
(a) as soon as possible inform all employees concerned of the risk involved and of the steps taken or to be taken to protect them from it,
(b) save in exceptional cases for the reasons specified in the plans and procedures referred to in subsection
(1), refrain from requiring employees to carry out or resume work where there is still a serious and imminent danger to their safety and health, and
(c) ensure that, in the absence of appropriate guidance or instruction and having regard to the knowledge of the employee and the technical means at his or her disposal, and where the employee’s immediate superior responsible cannot be contacted, the employee concerned may take appropriate steps to avoid the consequences of the danger.
Given the fact that Covid-19 and the number of cases will get much worse before it gets better it is essential that all Mandate workplace representatives are aware of the following;
- Your employer has legislative obligations towards you regarding your Safety, Health & Welfare at work.
- Everyone has a responsibility for Safety, Health & Welfare in the Workplace.
- Issues must be raised locally as and when they happen. Solving problems days or weeks later, especially in circumstances where things are changing so rapidly is extremely challenging.
- We must encourage a culture of “see something, say something” among the broader membership. No Shop Steward, Health & Safety Rep or House Committee Member can be present at all times or aware of everything that is happening in the shop.
If an issue has been raised locally and has not been satisfactorily resolved we encourage you to contact the Dublin North Office on 018870728 or email@example.com
There is more information available at the following links:
Health and Safety Authority – Covid-19 Advice and Guidance for Employers and Employees
Citizens Information – Health and safety at work
Government of Ireland – Work Safely Protocol
The ability to keep members safe at work and by extension their families and the broader community is through acting collectively as one in response to the current circumstances.
Remember, Together We Are Stronger.
Dublin North Team