[Updated May 2021] The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2020 has currently completed Dáil Éireann second stage, and if passed would legislate the need for “proactive health notification and surveillance” of Covid outbreaks. So what could this mean for Irish employers and what debates still surround the amendment being passed? And If the bill is introduced, how can Emex support workplaces in the management of outbreak and notification to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA)?

What Will This Mean For Irish Employers?

This will mean a legal obligation for all employers to notify the HSA of any occurrences of Covid in their workplace. As it stands, Covid is not a notifiable occupational illness to the HSA, due to the gap in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 that this bill would amend.

Covid-19 would be classified as an occupational illness, and every employer and/or workplace will have to have regard to the immediate, exceptional, and manifest risk posed to human life and public health by the spread of the virus, and have to report any occurrences of Covid amongst worker(s) in the workplace to the HSA.

What Debates Surround the Amendment?

Under the 2016 Regulations, diseases, occupational illnesses, or any impairment of mental condition are not reportable to the HSA. The 2016 Regulations have been branded as a loophole for employers whereby they can avoid the reporting of Covid to evade bad publicity.

Concerns surrounding the bill argue the liability of employers to reliably assess a diagnosis of Covid as an occupational illness that was contracted in the workplace. Data protection issues have also been expressed on the basis that employers would be required to share employees’ sensitive personal data with the HSA.


How Emex Can Support the Workplace

If the legislation is introduced to classify Covid as an occupational illness, it would require the HSA to investigate every notification made in compliance with the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

There are many ways our software can aid workplaces to manage the safe return of employees. The Audits and Inspection module can help employers’ to efficiently distribute pre-return to work forms to their workers. The completion and submission of these is intuitive, with the ability to track the progress status using the dashboards.

Our Analytics can also distinguish employees who have completed Covid related training, and the overall performance of teams or sites. The Safety Observations module can expedite the identification of possible problem areas or zones relating to poor Covid precautions. The platform can also implement the ability to print reports for records that have been selected as ‘reportable to the HSA’ for submission to the HSA.

As we await the outcome from the Oireachtas, we should highlight that the continued remote working situation for many workers should still be of concern for employers in supporting wellbeing and the homeworking environment. Emex can also facilitate the deployment of mental health surveys and display screen equipment (DSE) and ergonomics assessments as easy checklists for employees to score and submit.

Contact us for a free demo.


By Anja Hysi, Content Lead at Emex.

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