Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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610. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she or her Department were contacted by any of the contractors involved in the construction of a new factory (details supplied) regarding the continued construction work at the site during the period of the Covid-19 restrictions. [6437/20]

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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611. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if her attention has been drawn to or if she has been contacted regarding the full reopening of a construction site (details supplied) on 11 May 2020 a week before the agreed reopening date for construction on 18 May 2020 and prior to the Return to Work Protocol from her Department and the HSE being distributed to and discussed with employees on the site. [6438/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 610 and 611 together.

The issue of construction works at the site in question is an operational matter for the companies concerned. I understand that the Deputy along with his colleagues Deputies Bríd Smith, Richard Boyd Barrett and Gino Kenny contacted the Chief Executive Officer of the Health and Safety Authority on May 10th and my office was included as a recipient in this email correspondence. I can confirm, however, that I have not been contacted by any of the contractors in question and neither, to the best of my knowledge, has my Department.

More broadly, as we begin the process of gradually easing restrictions on different parts of our economy, I understand that many construction firms are adapting construction sites so that future works can adhere to provisions on social distancing and employee safety. I expect these measures to be in line with all relevant Government guidelines and the Return to Work Safely Protocol issued by my Department earlier this month.

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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612. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she will call for the closure of a construction site (details supplied) until a full Covid-19 risk assessment has been carried out and safety procedures are agreed for the site by the HSA, the workplace and safety reps, the Covid-19 safety rep and trade union safety reps in accordance with the Return to Work Protocol and the HSE Covid-19 guidelines; and if the HSA will be instructed to inspect this site for breaches of the Return to Work Protocol and HSE Covid-19 safety guidelines and issue enforcement proceedings to ensure full compliance. [6439/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The inspection of workplaces and any actions arising from inspections are, in the first instance, an operational matter for the Health and Safety Authority. In deciding to carry out a workplace inspection, the Health and Safety Authority consider a number of factors, including receipt of complaints in relation to practices at a place of work. 

I launched the Return to Work Safely on the 9th of May, prior to this the Construction Industry Federation produced an on-line induction course and a guidance document for the construction sector. This guidance was quickly amended to ensure it reflected the  Return to Work Safely Protocol. I would expect the construction sector to abide by the rules set out in the Protocol. 

Any concerns about potential breaches of occupational safety and health legislation at a specific place of work and/or in regard to adherence with the provisions of the national Return to Work Safely Protocol should be brought to the attention of the Health and Safety Authority by contacting its Workplace Contact Unit.

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