Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
76. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he has taken to improve ventilation in the office buildings of his Department; if air cleaning and or purification systems have been installed in 2021; and if not, the plans to install same in 2022. [59721/21]
The health and safety of the staff of my Department at headquarters and across our network of 96 diplomatic and consular missions is a constant priority for myself and the Department’s Management Board.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic my Department has implemented all official advice and guidance in order to maximize the safety of staff and minimize the spread of the disease. Our health and safety protocols are fully compliant with the Government's up-dated Work Safely Protocol: COVID-19 National Protocol for Employers and Workers. On ventilation, the Work Safely Protocol notes that workplaces should not in most cases require new mechanical ventilation systems and we follow the recommended practice of regularly and naturally refreshing and circulating air in and through our offices.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) has overall responsibility for the maintenance of our headquarters buildings in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and has assured us that out heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are maintained to the highest standards.
At the Department's request OPW mechanical and electrical experts recently surveyed the ventilation systems in our Passport Service buildings in Dublin and Cork. The Passport Service staff of nearly 600 people is working on site daily to serve the high demand for passports and my Department is working to ensure that the health and safety of all those colleagues is prioritised alongside the business need to serve our citizens. My Department will act quickly to implement any additional ventilation or air purification measures recommended by the OPW in the reports of the survey they have undertaken on our behalf.