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Employers have duty to comply with new Covid-19 work safety rules – unions

The Government is launching a list of return to work protocols.

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(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

New safety protocols to help people return to work when the Covid-19 pandemic eases must be complied with, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has said.

The Government will launch a health and safety protocol on Saturday that includes information for employers and workers relating to social distancing, hand hygiene, first aid and mental health.

The Return to Work Safely Protocol was put together by Ictu, employers, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the Health Services Executive (HSE) and the Department of Health.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Ictu general-secretary Patricia King said every employer “has an absolute duty to adhere to the rules”.

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Minister Jed Nash with Patricia King (Niall Carson/PA)

Minister Jed Nash with Patricia King (Niall Carson/PA)

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Minister Jed Nash with Patricia King (Niall Carson/PA)

“The battle against Covid-19 demands an unambiguous policy in relation to health and safety,” she added.

“There can be no shortcuts or opt-outs when it comes to matters of life and death. Covid-19 does not discriminate and every worker in every sector is entitled to the protection of this protocol.

“This pandemic has impacted severely on every part of our society and economy, and this document represents an important milestone.”

On Friday, 27 deaths from Covid-19 were reported, taking the total to 1,429.

An additional 156 new cases were confirmed, to make a total of 22,541.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said on Friday night that as the country moves into the next stage of coping with the virus, particular attention must be paid to how people behave in public spaces.

“As we prepare for the next stages of living with this virus, we are learning new norms and behaviours, particularly how we interact in public spaces,” he said.

“Physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, safe interactions apply to all if we are to keep Covid-19 suppressed in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (Asti) will meet on Saturday to discuss changes to the Leaving Certificate exam.

The written exams, due to start at the end of July, will not go ahead. Students will instead be given a predicted grade by their school and the Department of Education will finalise their results.

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) accepted the plan but said it needed clarification on some issues.

PA