As we are well aware at this stage, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of our society and economy. While we have managed to continue to maintain services during this difficult time the priority for the Union at all times is to protect the Health and Safety of our members.
The Work Safely Protocol during COVID has been revised at the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF)with input from Trade Unions, Employers, the Health and Safety Authority, the Health Services Executive and the Department of Health. This protocol applies to all workplaces and the provisions contained within are mandatory.
One of the key provisions of the Protocol is the requirement for employers to implement the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Measures. It has been proven that the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace is to practice physical distancing, adopt proper hand hygiene and follow respiratory etiquette. In order to ensure that this happens employers must provide information in addition to addressing the level of risk associated with various workplaces and work activities. Set out below is a summary of the Infection Prevention and Control Measures and what employers must do, all of which have been implemented in An Post.
- Appropriate hygiene facilities and materials are in place to accommodate workers adhering to hand hygiene measures.
- Provide hand sanitisers (alcohol or non-alcohol based) where washing facilities cannot be accessed. wipes/hand washing facilities). There is no shortage of hand sanitisers across the Company and the Company regularly update the Union on this issue.
- Provide tissues and bins for their disposal and empty bins at regular intervals.
The current recommended distance to be maintained between people to minimise risk of transmission is 2 meters.
- For office workers where, working from home is possible it must be facilitated, and we have agreed this with An Post
- Workers must be organised into Teams / Pods / Groups and should not interact with other Teams / Pods / Groups. This limits exposure to infection as well as allowing for the smoother running of the workplace. These Groups should be as small as possible taking into account the work to be done. This is in place in all DSU’s and is implemented at the direction of the HSA and with the support of both the Union and the Company as it will stop the spread of infection and protect members.
- Gatherings of workers at the beginning and end of working hours, such as signing on or out, should be prevented.
Masks are obligatory in all An Post premises, although we are pursuing the issue of customers at retail outlets having an opt out under legislation. The wearing of masks is not intended to replace other COVID prevention measures such as hand hygiene and social distancing. It is designed as an additional protection and enhancement of these measures. Masks should be clean and not shared or handled by other colleagues.
Wearing a face covering reduces the spread of COVID-19 in the community. It helps to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19. This helps to stop people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others. Where cloth face coverings are worn they should be made from cloth materials such as cotton or silk and should have at least two layers of fabric.
Visors are not the best option for protecting workers and others from COVID-19. Visors may stop some spread of droplets from your nose or mouth. This is better than not wearing any face covering. Visors should only be worn if you have an illness or impairment that makes wearing a face covering difficult or if you are dealing with people with particular needs (e.g., hard of hearing).
In settings where 2-metre worker separation cannot be ensured by organisational means, alternative protective measures should be put in place, for example:
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre or as much distance as is reasonably practicable.
- Minimise any direct worker contact and provide hand washing facilities, and other hand hygiene aids, such as hand sanitisers, wipes etc. that are readily accessible so workers can perform hand hygiene as soon as the work task is complete.
- Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards between workers. Screens do not need to be floor to ceiling but should be of an adequate height (e.g., cover a person in a standing position) and width to block the pathway from the nose and mouth to the face and workspace of the other persons. Screens may be fixed or mobile depending on requirements including emergency access. Screens should be regularly cleaned with detergent and water.
Cleaning of work areas must be conducted at regular intervals.
- Thorough and regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces must be implemented.
- If disinfection of an areas is required, this must be performed in addition to cleaning and never as a substitute for cleaning.
- Workers should be provided with essential cleaning materials to keep their own workspace clean.
- Workers should be provided with hand sanitisers and cleaning equipment for their own vehicle and cleaning should take place before and after each shift.
All of the above have been implemented in An Post to provide a safe workplace for all Postal Workers who are providing an essential service. If any member has concerns about the above not been implemented, they should bring their concerns to the attention of their Safety Representative or Branch Representative.
In addition to the above the Union and the Company has agreed supports for those on COVID related leave and we will advise them separately. We are also finalising discussions with the Company on training requirements and we will circulate them once they are completed. In the meantime we have agreed that only essential training should take place
Please bring this to the attention of all members to remind them of our every effort to keep everyone safe by fully abiding to the health guidelines.
Publication Type: Circular