Press Release

Construction trade unions and employers sign safety at work protocol for sites

Date Released: 09 March 2021

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and the Trade Union Federation (TUF) today signed a Return to Work Safety Protocol at a Collen Construction site in Haymarket, Dublin. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the site has been closed since 8th January last.

Jean Winters, CIF Director of Industrial Relations said: "The Protocol demonstrates the commitment of both side to continue our collaboration to protect construction workers and their families from Covid-19 when work resumes on all sites.  Collectively, employers and workers in construction have kept the incidence of cases on-site to negligible levels within the industry’s workforce.  Since 4th January, with over 30,000 workers on essential services sites there have been 29 cases of Covid-19, even with the elevated levels of the new variants in our communities."

David Lee, Collen Construction Director said: "The Return to Work Safety Protocol reinforces the commitment of the parties to the CIF Standard Operating Procedures and government guidelines to continue to prevent the importation of Covid-19 on to construction sites. The Protocol provides for the appointment of worker representatives whose role is to collaborate with management on site to ensure Covid-19 safety. The Protocol also provides for the continuation of Covid-19 testing on sites and it promotes the uptake of the vaccine when it is made available.  The parties to the agreement are committed to ensuring the industry can continue to protect the health and livelihoods of all construction workers and their families."

Brian McAvinue National Compliance Officer, CONNECT, said:  "The agreement stresses the importance of complying with the COVID Health and Safety guidelines and the paramount safety of all workers as well as the responsibilities of employers to have Safety worker representatives across all construction sites in the State. In each workplace, the worker representative must receive the necessary training to ensure Covid-19 safety on site. The cost of providing training will be borne by the employer. Site personnel may raise all safety concerns with the worker representative who is required to discuss these with management."

Brendan O'Sullivan, General Secretary, BATU said: "The Protocol identifies the voluntary encouragement for all workers to avail of the virus vaccines now been rolled out by the HSE. The parties to the agreement have identified the positive impact this would have for tackling the virus from entering building sites. In addition and in accordance with traditional custom and practice, workers are selected for lay-off on a site-by-site basis; where all things are equal relative to skills and experience, where possible direct employees will be recalled first.

John Regan, SIPTU Sector Organiser, said: "The Protocol provides for ongoing and regular engagement between TUF and CIF. Where a Covid-19 complaint has not been dealt with locally on site, it should be referred to the TUF who will engage with CIF, where required. It is agreed that every effort will be made to deal with all complaints promptly.  In the event that the complaint cannot be satisfactorily resolved in a timely manner, the matter will be referred, jointly or individually, by TUF/CIF to the Covid-19 department of the Health and Safety Authority."


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