GSP 04-21 Role of Safety Representatives during COVID-19
I refer to GS Circular 20/20 in relation to the Return to Workplace Protocol.
Following discussions at the Labour Employer Economic Forum and in order to reflect the Governments Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19 a revision of the Protocol has been completed and was published on the 20th November 2020. This protocol is a general document which is applicable to all areas.
As a result of its publication the Union and the Company reviewed the protocol as it applies in An Post, following which we thought it would be helpful to restate our agreed position in relation to the Lead Worker Representative (LWR) role, which is identified in the Protocol as playing an active part in ensuring COVID related measures are being strictly adhered to in the workplace.
The Union and Company previously agreed that in An Post this responsibility falls within the scope of the Safety Representative role, given their prior training and experience. Therefore, the Safety Representative role encompasses the responsibilities associated with the Lead Worker Representative and in the Mail Centres the role is undertaken by the Safety Committees.
The Work Safely Protocol applies to all workplaces and the provisions contained within it are also mandatory. It is the responsibility of the Manager in each office to implement agreed Safety measures intended to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in the workplace and to ensure compliance with these safety measures on an ongoing basis. These measures include mask wearing, social distancing, staggered attendances where applicable, cleaning regimes etc.
In relation to the management of the measures contained within the Protocol the Safety Representative is not responsible for their implementation. As detailed above this remains the Managers responsibility. The Safety Representative should support the Managers efforts to implement and ensure compliance with these measures. The Safety Representative should work collaboratively with the Manager to assist in the implementation of measures and monitor adherence to these measures to prevent the spread of COVID 19. They should engage with the Manager on these measures and raise concerns they have in relation to the implementation or enforcement of these in their office. They should also raise concerns brought to their attention by other members of staff.
The Safety Representative should set up a regular communications channel with their Manager on COVID 19 and also do walk around inspections with the Manager to check that all control measures are in place and working.
Representations should be made to the Manager on any concerns the Safety Representative has or that have been brought to his/her attention. The Manager is expected to engage with these representations and act on them where appropriate. In all cases the Manager is expected to respond to the representations in a timely manner. If the Manager is unable or unwilling to do this, then the detail of any disagreement should be recorded in order that the issue of concern can be escalated.
We have again agreed that where, despite the best efforts of all involved, it is not possible to resolve concerns at local level then the matter should be escalated through the Company Safety & Environment section in accordance with existing agreed procedures. When escalating the concern, the Safety Representative should clearly set out the nature of the concern and include details of representations already made to management locally including the response received, if any. The Safety Representative can at all times contact email@example.com for advice.
If the matter remains a concern after these representations the Safety Representative can bring it to the attention of Pat Kenny, Secretary of the JCC Health and Safety Sub Committee, for consideration by that body.
The Union has also agreed to the appointment Colin Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) as a Lead Worker Representative for the GPO as this remains the main office where staff have yet to return to work. In addition to being Lead Worker Representative for the GPO, Colin is also available as an additional support for either Safety Representatives or Managers who want advice on the Work Safely Protocols. In addition, the JCC Health and Safety Sub Committee may from time to time request Colin to attend offices to give advice in relation to these protocols.