Returning to the Workplace Safely Webinar


On Wednesday the 30th of June last, County Meath Chamber, along with the HSE Northeast and the Health and Safety Authority held a return to workplace safely webinar for Meath businesses. The webinar was held in response to the growing concern from businesses and the department of health on safety protocols that need and should be in place for employees returning to their place of work. The webinar was chaired by Meath County Chamber Chairperson John V Farrelly and the speakers included Dr Augustine Pereira- HSE Northeast, Dr Peter Finnegan- co-lead for the Covid response in workplaces, Professor Sam McConkey- RCSI and Jason Murray- HSA inspector.

John V Farrelly opened the meeting by expressing his disappointment at the news that hospitality will not reopen on the 5th of July and that the summer may be gone for a lot of business owners in County Meath. John introduced the first speaker of the morning- Dr Augustine Pereira.

Dr Pereira, Director of Public Health, HSE Northeast began by explaining the transmission dynamics of the Covid 19 virus and what measures we should have in place to prevent infection. The last line of defence is the vaccine. He spoke of the Swiss cheese model to explain that multiple layers improve success. However, the Delta variant is the one of most concern.

Dr Peter Finnegan was next to speak. Dr Finnegan is a consultant in public health medicine and co-lead for the Covid response in workplaces. Dr Finnegan is a specialist in public health medicine and went through case studies involving Meat plants in the Northeast region. He explained that the 1st priority should always be to stop the virus getting into the workplace in the first place. Basic precautions must be in place.

John V Farrelly then called on Professor Sam McConkey- Infectious Disease Specialist at the Royal College of Surgeons. Professor McConkey stated the government want to be cautious and explained that their appetite for risk was low at the moment. “We need visible leaders. People that will talk, listen, and write. Leaders that will reassure their staff that there is a plan.”. He also spoke of the need for employers to be flexible and have contingency plans in place, and to plan for designated alternates.

The last speaker of the morning was Jason Murray, HSA inspector and part of the National Covid 19 response team. Mr Murray clearly set out the measures, controls and monitoring that should be in place in office accommodation, locker rooms, break rooms, production floors as well as the information and training that is available.

After hearing from all the panellists, Mr Farrelly thanked them all for their contribution and invited Joe English to speak on behalf of Meath County Council. Mr English went through all the supports that are available from the Local enterprise office including the outdoor dining scheme, the trading online voucher, the micro finance Ireland loan scheme and the training available for all companies.

After inviting questions for the panellists Mr Farrelly concluded the call and asked everyone to remember that complacency is the biggest risk. This webinar is being followed by a HR round table discussion on returning to the workplace safely. It will be available soon from County Meath Chamber. For a list of all Covid 19 supports visit /covid-19