Thursday, 5 November 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
SOLAS Training and Education Programmes
60. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his engagements to date with SOLAS in regard to the termination of the safe pass card expiry date exemption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34276/20]
61. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment his engagements with representatives of the construction industry in regards liability issues for employers following the extension of validity of safe pass cards to the end of the Covid-19 emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34277/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 61 together.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Construction Regulations 2013 certain categories of construction workers must hold a SOLAS Safe Pass card. With the imposition of public health restrictions last March, SOLAS, through its parent Department, requested an amendment to these Regulations to extend the four-year validity period of cards issued from 1 March 2016 as Safe Pass training was unavailable.
This amendment provided a derogation to construction workers whose Safe Pass card expired from 1March 2020 so that they could continue to work.
When Safe Pass training resumed it was with reduced capacity due to social distancing measures. The derogation ensures that training priority is given to new construction workers and facilitates those unwilling to attend training for medical reasons. The derogation does not negate existing obligations on any employer or worker under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
Currently, Safe Pass courses are delivered in a classroom setting although SOLAS is examining on-line options. The availability of on-line training would remove the need for the derogation. My Department is in regular contact with SOLAS, and its Parent Department on the most appropriate timing for the removal of the derogation, which would ideally be linked to an on-line solution becoming available.
I am not aware of concerns around liability issues for employers due to the extension to the expiry date of certain Safe Pass cards. However, if the Deputy is aware of specific concerns, he can bring these to the attention of my Departmental officials for any necessary follow-up.