Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: Government must put in place enhanced regulation for adequate ventilation

Pringle: Government must put in place enhanced regulation for adequate ventilation

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said workplace ventilation and clean air is crucial to ensure workers are protected and feel safe returning to work.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I am surprised that this has not been considered as a serious option before now. It is hard to believe that anyone would argue against the need for clean air, especially given the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic due to an airborne virus. We know that Covid-19 transmits when people breathe in air contaminated by droplets and small airborne particles containing the virus. Why then aren’t we putting the steps in place to reduce this risk?

“Surely effective ventilation and clean air is an obvious solution,” he said.

The deputy was speaking in support of the People Before Profit private members’ bill on workplace ventilation.

Deputy Pringle said: “If we are going to live with this virus and establish a ‘new normal’ then we need to make sure that there is low risk of transmission in our workplaces and employers should be responsible for creating a safe, ventilated workplace in the same way that they were responsible for employee health, safety and welfare previous to this pandemic. We need to make sure that our workers are protected and that they feel safe and comfortable in returning to work. This is the only way that we will be able to move forward and live with this virus.

“It is clear that the vaccines alone will not get us out of this pandemic, especially in the face of new variants, and the government needs to stop relying on this alone. As well as this, we cannot continuously lock down forever. It is just not sustainable,” he said.

The deputy said: “It is time that this Government stop ignoring the need for ventilated workplaces and put in place enhanced regulation to ensure proper and adequate ventilation.”

He also repeated his criticism of Government for their mixed messaging in relation to Covid, saying, “The whole ‘schools are safe’, ‘actually we never said schools are safe’ mixed messaging from NPHET and the Government was a complete farce.”

Deputy Pringle said: “This bill would not only require employers to ventilate their work spaces but it would also give workers the right to seek to have their workplace inspected by the Health and Safety Authority.”

He said: “We need to provide enforceable standards for air quality and the Health and Safety Authority should be able to inspect air quality at the request of workers.”