People Before Profit launch bill for teachers & other workers to be given free FFP2 masks, like TDs already get
Prof Orla Hegarty says wearing cloth & surgical masks for an airborne virus is like ‘wearing flip flops on a building site’
At a media event today on the Dáil plinth, Paul Murphy TD launched People Before Profit’s new Personal Protective Equipment (Covid 19) Bill.
The Bill would amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure employers provide employees with FFP-2 grade masks or higher where necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic; in particular to education and healthcare workers, and to provide for a review of this within 3 months of the enactment of this legislation.
Education trade unions have been calling for FFP2 masks for teachers, which are being provided free of charge to teachers and students in other countries.
Speaking on the need for workers to have access to medical grade masks in the workplace, Paul Murphy TD said:
“As it stands TDs in Leinster House get FFP2 grade masks for free. We believe workers should too – especially those in schools and healthcare settings.
“With the staggering numbers being recorded of Covid 19 infections and the transmissibility of the Omicron variant we think it is essential for teachers and other workers in high-density workplaces to be provided with medical grade masks so they can have extra protection in the workplace. The science is clear – masks work. FFP2 and N95 masks are far more effective than cloth or surgical masks in preventing the spread of Covid 19.
“This is an essential move, and we would urge cross party support for this bill when we bring it to the floor of the Dáil. Covid 19 is a danger to the health and wellbeing of workers, but also the rapid spread of the variant risks large numbers of workers being off work and the subsequent impact on society. This bill makes sense from all angles.”
Professor Orla Hegarty, former member of the NPHET Ventilation advisory group, who is supporting the bill, said:
“Covid is an airborne virus & this requires airborne protection, so that people are protected from breathing infected air. Surgical masks are leaky & loose fitting; wearing them for an airborne virus have been compared to wearing flip flops on a building site.
“High grade masks such as FFP3/ N95/ KF94 & KN95 can give protection over 95% and can be reused safely, outside of healthcare. High quality masks are needed now to get cases down and to turn this around. If everyone wore high grade masks everywhere indoors (and in vehicles) for a month we would have no pandemic.”