People Before Profit have welcomed the government decision not to oppose the Workplace Ventilation Bill 2021
The Bill seeks to give workers the ‘right to clean air’ by imposing minimum ventilation standards in workplaces based around CO2 levels. It effectively creates minimum fresh air standards and would give employees the ability to request health and safety inspections.
The Bill defines clean air as having fewer than 900 ppm of CO2 – and puts the onus on employers to achieve this by whatever means possible and/or to install air filtration. (Employers would still also be subject to existing health and safety laws on minimum standards of heating for a comfortable workplace.) The rationale for doing this is that almost every building where people gather aside from private homes is someone’s workplace.
The Bill also empowers the Health and Safety Authority to measure clean air in the workplace and to issue improvement or prohibition notices as appropriate – similar to what happens to restaurants that breach food safety rules. It empowers workers to request that the HSA carry out an inspection of the air in their workplace. This aims to address a major flaw in existing health and safety legislation, namely that it is solely up to the HSA which workplaces it chooses to inspect.
People Before Profit representative, Paul Murphy TD said: “It is positive that the government is not opposing our ventilation bill to give the right to clean air to workers and students, and that this bill is set to be passed today.
“However, we cannot simply let this bill sit on a shelf gathering dust – it must be progressed and implemented rapidly. We cannot and will not be able to get on top of this pandemic without urgent action to make sure that schools and workplaces are properly ventilated.
Government must also assist schools and workplaces in this regard. Every classroom should be given a HEPA filter, as has been done in other countries. All workplaces must be monitoring air quality with CO2 monitors and using HEPA filters and improved ventilation where appropriate, and the government should provide support to small businesses to do that where necessary.
“The government should now fast track this bill, without delay. We are nearly two years into the pandemic and the time is now to pass this bill into law
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The government has let the bill pass the second stage but they may seek to water it down at subsequent stages. We are asking you to:
* Email local TDs asking them to fast track through the bill without changes.
*Get your local union to come out publicly in support.
*Take up a petition in your workplace to garner support for the bill. Here is a suggested wording:
‘We, the undersigned, call on the government to fast track the Workplace Ventilation Bill 2021 to deal with the current public health emergency.’
You can forward your petition to a local TD.
Notes: Link to Bill and Explanatory Memo