Managers must complete a comprehensive review of their current systems to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The National Health and Safety Function will continue to review and update supporting documents in line with government and public health guidance.
The National Health & Safety Function developed a risk assessment prompt sheet in line with this guidance to support managers implement these requirements:
Requirements as per the Transitional Protocol
- Update existing safety statements
- Review and update existing risk assessments
- Revise and update the COVID-19 Response Plan
- COVID-19 Lead Worker Representative and COVID-19 Response Manager. Revise and implement a plan for dealing with suspected cases of COVID-19. You must have a plan in place to manage instances where an employee, visitor, contractor or other becomes symptomatic while at work or in the workplace
Employees should not attend the workplace if they are displaying any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have a positive COVID-19 test.
COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Measures include:
- Hand Hygiene
- Respiratory Hygiene
- Physical distancing - the requirement for physical distancing in non-clinical areas has been removed however, adopting a physical distance continues to be good practice.
- Workplaces must have a system in place to provide attendance information and cooperate with local public health offices if a case of COVID-19 and/or an outbreak is confirmed in the workplace.
- Wearing facemasks - from 19 April 2023 guidance around mask wearing has changed.
- Ventilation - determining ventilation of enclosed workplace settings should be considered as part of the workplace risk assessment. Ventilation can be achieved through natural means (eg opening a window) or by mechanical means e.g. HVAC systems.
Support and advice
Log a request via my health and safety self service
Appoint and train a COVID-19 Lead Worker Representative and COVID-19 Response Manager
COVID-19 Lead Worker Representative
The Lead Worker Representative will help put in place measures to prevent the spread of COVID -19. They will assist with communicating health advice around COVID-19 in the workplace.
The Lead Worker Representative can either be a member of staff or management. They must have clear governance structures to escalate issues to local senior management.
A Lead Worker training package has now been developed for this role and is available on HSeLanD.
Appointment process for Lead Worker Representatives (LWR)
- management must identify locations and services requiring LWR
- through Human Resources, local management must agree with the Trade Unions (TU) the numbers required (at least 1)
- the TUs will agree a nomination(s) (full-time Trade Union Official)
- appointment nomination advanced by TU to management and agreed nominations appointed
- if the TU is unable to nominate, then management should seek expressions of interest from staff (no election required)
COVID-19 Response Manager
The COVID-19 Response Manager Role is a key support to the Lead Worker Representative. They will provide governance around implementing COVID-19 requirements and provide an escalation pathway where non-compliance is identified.
Hazard control service arrangements
Review hazard arrangements in section 4 of guideline on writing your ancillary safety statement with the accompanying template for guideline on writing your ancillary safety statement template
- Management of contractors, deliveries, service users, visitors
- Cleaning protocols and waste management
- Fire safety and first aid
- Use and sourcing of PPE
- Delivery of statutory OSH training
- Incident management to include reporting and review
- Access and egress circulation
- Address water and legionella risks
- Plant and equipment (lifts, ventilation systems, standby generators)
- Smoking areas
- Welfare and facilities
- Arrangements for conducting meetings and clinical engagements
Plan new hazard arrangements required in section 4 of guideline on writing your ancillary safety statement for COVID-19.
Update risk assessments
You will need to review your risk assessments to ensure that the risks associated with COVID-19 are reduced.
You can use your risk assessment to help you keep a record of:
- who might be harmed and how
- what you’re already doing to control the risks
- what further action you need to take to control the risks
- who needs to carry out the action
- when the action is needed by
Your risk assessments may include the following:
Risk assessments applying to specific services
Biological agents - laboratories
Acute hospital settings, community hospitals, acute mental health services and acute rehabilitation services
HSE community hospitals and post-acute rehabilitation facilities
Biological agents risk assessment for HSE residential care facilities during Covid-19
Biological agents risk assessment for health and social care services during Covid-19
Implementing additional control measures from the risk assessments
- Put in place any additional control measures arising from the risk assessment process.
- If the risk assessment shows that the risk is adequately controlled, document the assessment. Continue to monitor and review.
- If the risk assessment shows that the risk is not adequately controlled then put in place further control measures.
COVID-19 Response Plan
The COVID -19 Response Plan is an essential part of your safety management system. It details the arrangements needed to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each site/service must have its own plan.
Plan for suspected cases of COVID-19
You must have a plan in place to manage instances where an employee, visitor, contractor or other becomes symptomatic while at work or in the workplace.
COVID-19 induction training
COVID-19 induction training must be completed by all staff.
A training package, developed by the NHSF, can be completed on HSeLanD. A certificate of attendance will be issued to participants.
Employees must also be made familiar with local arrangements for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
NHSF Help desk helpline 1800 420 420