Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to

English, Damien

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Amendment) Bill 2020: Second Stage [Private Members] (Continued)

I thank Deputy O’Reilly for bringing forward this Bill. It provides me with an opportunity to update the Dáil on recent regulatory changes and to facilitate a valuable exchange of views on the mat...More Button

The intention behind the Bill is well-motivated insofar as it those who drafted it are seeking to ensure that all instances of Covid-19 infection identified at places of work be reported to the H...More Button

A different impression was given here earlier that was wrong. The allusion made tonight is not uncommon in debates in the House. However, I wish that it would not happen. On serious matters su...More Button

While recognising concerns regarding the specific acquiring of Covid-19 infections in the workplace, the fact is that the workplace is not isolated from wider society. Covid-19 is primarily a pu...More Button

Of course, there are Covid-19-related concerns that arise in certain workplaces. In this regard, on foot of an EU directive, Covid-19 has now been designated as a biological agent under the new ...More Button

As a result of these new regulations, where a person’s work activities involve occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2, their employer is required to carry out a specific biological agent risk assess...More Button

The biological agents regulations provide for a targeted and realistic approach to the reporting of Covid-19 in the workplace rather than a blanket imposition of a general reporting requirement o...More Button

If there were to be a statutory requirement on an employer to report cases of Covid-19, an employer would have to be made aware of such cases.More Button

There is no obligation on a medical practitioner or the HSE to inform an employer that an individual employee has acquired COVID-19, nor is there an obligation on employees to inform their employer...More Button

The purpose of the Bill is to make workplace outbreaks of Covid-19 notifiable to the HSA. In reality, the proposed amendment will not provide significant additional value for the authority in te...More Button

I look forward to engagement from those on all sides of the House and I believe that a constructive and co-operative debate will contribute to the learning curve that we have all been on in respe...More Button

Reference was made to sick leave. The Tánaiste has made a very strong commitment on this and the process is well under way - on foot of discussions in both Houses of the Oireachtas - to bring fo...More Button

If I could have a couple of minutes, yes. Deputy Ó Ríordáin asked me what I was referring to earlier when I spoke about misinformation or the perception being given. It was repeatedly stated tha...More Button

The question we have to focus on is the impact of the Bill and what it desires to achieve. All of us here would agree to increased protections for employees, which is what we will do. That is w...More Button

Separately, since employers are not informed by the Health Service Executive or by a doctor of individual cases due to privacy reasons, an employer will only be able to report a case of Covid-19 ...More Button

To be clear, on balance, as a Government, it is our view that it is appropriate not to oppose the Bill at this point since the Health and Safety Authority is currently carrying out a regulatory i...More Button

To set out the process, what is under way and has been even before this debate, which is a useful opportunity to discuss it, is that the Health and Safety Authority is preparing a regulatory impa...More Button

I thank Deputy O'Reilly for bringing the Bill forward and all the Deputies for their contributions, but it is important that the tone reflects the reality and the facts. I appreciate that the Bi...More Button

In respect of businesses and workplaces, the Government responded quickly with a range of targeted practical and financial supports as well as protocols to deal with them. Among the practical su...More Button

The Health and Safety Authority has been the lead State agency in co-ordinating the inspectorate response to compliance with the protocol and in offering advice, guidance and support to both employ...More Button

The Health and Safety Authority is aware of the deaths of eight healthcare workers. I understand that the authority is currently assessing the circumstances of those deaths, which is its functio...More Button