Compliance officers in Ireland are warning that businesses could face strict enforcement measures including closure for non-compliance with the Covid-19 'Return to Work Protocol'.The Association of Compliance Officers Ireland (ACOI) said there can be no mistaking that the Health and Safety Authority's (HSA) powers of enforcement are considerable.
"They can serve improvement and prohibition notices, and ultimately, they have the power to order business closures, if they deem it necessary," the association's CEO Michael Kavanagh said.
The ACOI say that gone are the days where compliance, as a function in an organisation, is seen as just as “tick box” exercise.
Mr Kavanagh was reacting to a reply the Minister for Business Heather Humphries gave in the Dáil where she said the HSA has full powers to oversee compliance with the health, safety and wellbeing of workers in their place of work.
"The vast majority of businesses want to be compliant, though many are having to contend with the financial and logistical implications of doing so. But for the few who do not adhere to the rules, it is clear that the Minister is fully supportive of the HSA using their powers to police these measures," he said.
The Minister did stress however, that helping businesses to comply is the overall aim of the HSA, so I think a collaborative approach will be taken by all to ensure the country can get back up and running safely.
The ACOI say that the COVID compliance function in organisations will look differently depending on the size and nature of the organisation.
"GDPR is something businesses have had to deal with over the last few years, and we see now that depending on the size of the company some might have a dedicated GDPR officer, but smaller companies might outsource this function. This could be the way it plays out when it comes to Covid also."