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National Return to Work Safely Protocol

To help your business get Safely Back To Work, The HSA
have developed checklists for employers & employees.

These are based on the Return to Work Safely Protocol, designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Download the checklists Here

 The following requirements, among others, are included in the Protocol: 

  • Each workplace will appoint at least one lead worker representative, who will work with the employer to ensure that COVID19 measures are strictly adhered to in the workplace.
  • Before a workplace reopens, there will be COVID-19 induction training for all workers to make sure that they are up to speed on the Public Health Advice and Guidance.
  • Employers will issue a pre-return to work form for workers to complete at least 3 days in advance of the return to work.
  • Employers are also required to update their safety plans before reopening, in consultation with, and with the agreement of, workers.
  • The plan should include measures relevant to COVID-19, for example, social distancing, the provision of hand sanitisers, tissues and clinical waste bags, clear procedures around handwashing and respiratory etiquette, and ensuring proper ventilation on site. 
  • Employers will keep a log of any group work in order to facilitate contact tracing
  • Employers are required to put a response plan in place, outlining details of how they will deal with a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace, to include a designated manager in charge.
  • If a worker displays any symptoms of the virus during work hours, the designated manager must direct that person to a designated isolation area, along a designated route, all the time maintaining a 2 metre distance, and arrange for that person to remain in isolation before arranging for them to be transported home, or to a medical facility, avoiding public transport.
  • The employer must also carry out a full risk assessment of the incident to see what, if any, further action needs to be taken. 
  • Breaks and rest periods should be organised so as to facilitate social distancing
  • In settings where 2 metre separation is not possible, alternative protective measures such as installation of physical barriers/plastic sneeze guards should be put in place 

Notes for the Editor

The Return to Work Safely Protocol is available online at Return to Work Safely Protocol

If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or

Monitoring of the Protocol 

A high-level consultative stakeholder forum, under the aegis of Labour Employer Economic Forum, will be established to oversee the implementation of this Protocol in light of evolving public health advice and other factors.  The forum will include membership from the various bodies with responsibility for health and safety at work and for public health more generally.

The Labour Employer Economic Forum   

The forum was established in 2016 to bring together representatives of employers and trade unions with government ministers to exchange views areas of shared concern affecting the economy, employment and the labour market on a thematic basis, such as competitiveness, sustainable job creation, labour market standards and equality and gender issues in the workplace. 

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation 

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.

For further information please contact Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or (01) 631 2200