'Unsafe, unregulated': People Before Profit blasts reopening of construction sites

Brid Smith said that “light touch” regulation was a real concern despite new protocols agreed between employers and the government last week for people returning to work.

Tens of thousands of construction workers are set to return to work next week to sites that are "unsafe", "unregulated" and unprepared to prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to opposition TDs.

People Before Profit TD have lashed out at the proposed rules for construction sites and also questioned the resources and ability of health and safety authorities overseeing protections.

Brid Smith said that “light touch” regulation was a real concern despite new protocols agreed between employers and the government last week for people returning to work.

Ms Smith said there was no proposed enforcement in the building sector in new rules and limited plans for protective equipment at sites.

“This is dressed up as enforcement and it is not,” she said.

She said thousands of workers on Monday would start returning to sites that are “not safe”.

Her colleague Paul Murphy said he had received information from ministers that 200 complaints about workplaces had been submitted to the Health and Safety Authority. But these had not resulted in one inspection, said Mr Murphy, including at meat factories, farms and building sites.

Mr Murphy criticised a decision for construction workers to return to a building site for Intel this week ahead of the expected easing of restrictions next Monday.

He claimed that the HSA were “asleep the wheel” or under-resourced.

Richard Boyd Barrett warned of the pre-Covid-19 crisis in the health service “returning with a vengeance.”

Understaffing in health services would now be exposed, particularly in areas not-virus related, he warned.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Alan Kelly today has called for a new insurance levy, paid by the industry, which would help support and cover services returning after the pandemic.

The new indemnity levy was a necessity but would not be footed by consumers, he suggested.

Mr Kelly said a more coherent plan to restart society was needed by the government.

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