Returning To Work Safely

A ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol‘ has been prepared to assist employers in implementing measures to protect their employees. The protocol is a live document which will be updated regularly, and should be used by all employers to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply with the Covid-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19. They should therefore be cautious about making long-term commitments to employees and make clear that any return to work measures will continue to be reviewed and adapted in accordance with evolving government guidance.

The protocol advises that, in preparation for returning to work, employers should:

  • appoint at least one clearly identifiable lead worker representative charged with ensuring that Covid-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their place of work. Individuals undertaking this role must receive the necessary training and have a structured framework to follow within the organisation to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus;
  • consult with workers and safety representatives on safety measures to be implemented;
  • provide a Covid-19 training induction for all workers;
  • develop or update their Covid-19 response plan. This should include any updates to health and safety risk assessments and safety statement as discussed below;
  • keep a log of any group work in order to facilitate contract tracing;
  • develop or amend policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of workers who develop symptoms of Covid-19;
  • develop, consult, communicate and implement workplace changes or policies with workers to include a response plan to deal with suspected cases of Covid-19 in the workplace and what to do if a worker displays symptoms during work hours; and
  • implement Covid-19 prevention and control measures to minimise risk to workers including a pre-return to work form for workers to complete at least three days in advance of return, any controls identified in the risk assessment such as staggered breaks, social distancing and physical barriers, and temperature testing in line with public health advice.

Employers should keep in mind that rushing a return to work without the correct safeguards in place may risk a resurgence of Covid-19.

Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority will oversee compliance with the protocol in the workplace. HSA inspectors will visit the workplace and advise on any shortcomings through a Report of Inspection, which is left with the employer at the end of the visit and can include timelines and follow-ups needed. The inspectors also have the power to serve an Improvement Notice, a legal directive from an inspector requiring that certain improvements be carried out in a specified time-frame, or a Prohibition Notice, a legal instruction directing that a specified work activity be stopped.

The CIF has published checklists and templates to help employers, business owners and managers to get their businesses up and running again, and to inform workers about what they need to do to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The CIF also provides critical C-19 training that should be taken by every employee returning to work.

Employers’ health and safety obligations

Employers in Ireland have a number of legal duties under health and safety law, including:

  • duty to protect the health, as well as safety, of their employees;
  • duty to protect others who may be exposed to health risks as a result of the employer’s activities, including members of the public, service users and contractors; and
  • duty to manage safety risks from workplaces under the employer’s control.

As a result, protecting the health and safety of employees and others in the workplace as they return to work will be paramount for employers.

Employers, in conjunction with the Return to Work Safely Protocol, should:

  • keep up to date with the latest public health guidance, local government advice and World Health Organisation (WHO) updates, and communicate these to employees. The HSA has helpful guidance for employers on its website, which is frequently being updated;
  • conduct a risk assessment on health and safety before any return to the workplace, and put in place relevant measures to ensure the health and safety of employees in line with health and safety law and guidance and HSE guidance. The assessment should cover risks posed by premises, working conditions and the composition of the workplace. For example, workstations may need to be moved to ensure there is a 2m distance between workers;
  • communicate clearly and early with employees on your plans to reopen and any new policies you wish to introduce. Consider providing guidance and establishing protocols on any workplace measures to be adopted;
  • brief line managers and HR staff on company policy, using an FAQ guidance document. Ensure there is a consistent message to all employees on the process and company policy;
  • assess who will return, bearing in mind that the greater the number of people who enter the workplace the greater the risk. Careful consideration will need to be given to how to select which employees are to return to work or to come off lay-off, bearing in mind issues such as potential discrimination and procedural fairness. Some employees may not want to return to work due to caring responsibilities or for health reasons, and consideration should be given as to whether these employees can continue to work from home or remain on temporary lay-off, where applicable;
  • consider working hours and arrangements, which may include ways to limit the number of staff commuting at peak travel hours or staggering start and end times to minimise the risk of infection – for example, creating two cohorts with half the department working from home and half in the office each day in order to balance operations with practical measures. If contractual working hours need to be changed, consult with the employees and get their consent prior to any changes taking affect;
  • display HSE posters around the workplace to raise awareness of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19;
  • keep up to date with the latest guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Employees must be given the correct PPE and work equipment for their job if they are required to come into work. Employers should also ensure that they have adequate stocks of PPE, and may need to consider what other measures to put in place if the supply of PPE is disrupted;
  • put in place practical measures to support those on site such as hand washing facilities, additional hand sanitiser stations, antibacterial wipes and appropriate signage, and check and re-stock these regularly;
  • organise for work areas and frequently-touched surfaces to be cleaned at regular intervals;
  • consider whether canteens, gyms and other staff facilities should re-open, bearing in mind that there may be contractual commitments in outsourced contracts requiring facilities to be open if the building is in use;
  • continue to reduce to the absolute minimum or cancel non-essential business travel and encourage employees to conduct meetings via video conferencing software. Where this is not possible, provide additional guidance on essential business travel and the expectations of the company in order to ensure employees have sufficient guidance;
  • assess the risks around third parties entering the workplace, as there is a legal obligation to ensure their health and safety;
  • whether or not an employer recognises a trade union, early engagement on its plans with employees should help ensure understanding or cooperation. Union engagement may be required where changes to working hours and other terms and conditions are needed, although agreement or consent to any changes will be required regardless of union presence. More generally, unions and staff representative bodies may help to communicate guidance to employees and provide a route for them to raise questions or concerns;
  • where employees and contractors are required to complete questionnaires on recent travel and health information, third parties should also complete these before entering the premises. Employers must ensure any questionnaires are compliant with data protection legislation;
  • consider whether any employees can work from home. If they can, the employer should satisfy itself that it is a safe place of work. The HSA has issued guidance for employers to understand their duties in relation to home workers.

As the easing-in period continues, larger construction projects are staggering the number of workers on site. From the reopening date a site previously with 70 workers may start back with just 40 to ensure physical distancing of 2m between people gradually building up to 50 then 60 etc. 

We understand the sector is chomping at the bit to get going again as so many projects will need to be finished, timelines have changed which has a major knock-on effect, and costs are still to be calculated. But despite the desire to get back into full swing the construction sector is putting safety first. The good news is that Ireland is picking itself up and seems to be doing it in a controlled, sensible and well-managed manner. 

If it becomes necessary to close the premises, official advice should be followed and a cooperative approach adopted. Site owners should bear in mind that health and safety inspectors have powers to prohibit access to premises.

If you need more advice or insight into what you can do as an employer Speak to the team at Sherlock Recruitment, 01 4568438,


Irish Skills Shortage – Sector Under Pressure


Ireland Construction Industry is facing a skills shortage

MMD (Mitchel Mcdermott) recently released a report highlighting some serious challenges the Irish construction industry are facing. It says construction output grew by 12% last year, but the number of workers only grew by 4%. This is a very real challenge, for anyone doing business in the sector, without the people to build the houses, offices and hospitals we aren’t going to get very far and critical targets won’t be met.

As Sherlock is a specialised staffing and recruitment organisation we are acutely aware of the potential threat the skills shortage brings both to us and to our clients. This is something that we tackled in an earlier post last year. It’s only January and already we are getting calls that projects are being delayed due to staff or missing critical skills. This is a worrying trend that doesn’t show any signs of abating.
Paul Mitchell, one of the authors of the report, predicted output would increase by a further 10% this year to over €25bn.  “Output is outstripping our already constrained supply chain, and this is a worrying trend going forward. In fact, demand is at levels of constraint similar to the Celtic Tiger, especially in Dublin,” he said.

The implications of a skills shortages will be to rapidly push the cost of builds up. The study suggested that an office building costing €20 million to build in 2015 would cost €25 million at the beginning of 2020, an increase of 26 per cent. Mitchell went on to say “Given the constraints in the sector, the key question is who will build these units? We estimate up to 30,000 additional workers would be required to reach that level of output,” he said. This was reinforced further by The CIF who believes the sector will require 100,000 more workers in the coming years.

These are very real industry challenges and is exactly the space that Sherlock operates in, on a daily basis. Work with the leading Tier 1 contractors and engineers across the country and Europe on some the of the biggest builds in the country, the cost of delays is paramount to all our clients big or small. One of the primary reason’s people use our service is due to our focused skills set and national reach. We have developed a network of over 40 000 skilled tradesmen, operatives and support staff across all sectors of the construction industry. If you are planning any builds over the coming years you want to speak to Sherlock. Not only will we be able to provide you with the right staff at the right time, but we will work with you to manage your staffing costs and will reduce all the stress involved in staff management to a single weekly invoice.

Working with an organisation like Sherlock that is as established in the sector as Sherlock means you have a viable resource to control costs, to mitigate risk exposure and ensure that you have the skills and staff that you need to keep your projects on track.

Looking for a solution? Speak to our industry experts today:


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Top Irish Companies Choose Sherlock

The Top 10 Reasons

Contract construction workers, are they the solution for you? We wanted to know as well! So we did some research and here are the top 10 reasons Ireland’s leading contractors chose to use Sherlock Recruitment. There might be more benefits to using contract workers than meets the eye. Have a look and let us know if there are any reasons we might have missed.

1. Stability in uncertain times

For all organisations, flexibility and adaptability are paramount and having the ability to adapt their team during busy or low periods. The hiring and or finishing up of permanent staff is time-consuming expensive and can be detrimental to morale. The ability to bring on more workers or scale back the workforce to respond to the ebbs and flows of demand is one of the biggest benefits to using contract staff. This helps with a rapid response solution for sudden turnover, long-term leaves, and special projects.

2. Access to new skills

Working with Sherlock Recruitments contract employees, clients found that the contract staff provided new skills and perspectives to the project, which in turn improved efficiency and productivity. If a new project requires skills outside your permanent team’s area of expertise, a contract employee can provide those new skills and talent to keep things moving for as long as you need that surge.

3. It can lead to meaningful hires

This was one of our favourites; finding employees that are the right fit for your workplace is always a challenge, and making a bad hire can be costly. Contract employees, on the other hand, can provide employers with the chance to evaluate workers over a longer period of time without committing to a permanent offer. It can also alleviate some of the urgency associated with filling an opening in your permanent staff – having a contract employee in place during your recruitment process ensures you take your time finding the right hire. Sherlock has provided many employees on a contract to permanent basis. We are always delighted when we get that call to discuss moving a contract employee to become permanent staff.

4. Rapid and up to date expertise

Sherlock specialises in hiring quality staff for the construction industry, we are experts in the field and are specialists in your industry. One of the biggest perks, according to our clients, have told us is the speed to market, we provide a faster alternative to the conventional hiring process. We know the market, are well versed in current career expectations of quality staff and salary rates, have the available talent at our fingertips, and can reach qualified candidates quickly. Contract staffing is an instant solution for many companies that need the best available candidates in the shortest amount of time.

5. Access to Critical Skills

It is commonplace for many of our clients to use our services to gain access to critical strategic skills on a project basis. Commonly, companies need a qualified candidate to fulfil a critically important role for a short period and turn to contract staff to provide them with a suitable candidate. Being able to hire a well-qualified and vetted candidate provides human resource departments with crucial flexibilty solution for a project that needs immediate attention for a particular set of skills.

6. Fast scalability of your workforce

If you are like many of our clients and have several big projects rapidly coming up or have taken on a big new project? Using contract staff is one of the fastest and most efficient ways of scaling up your workforce at short notice. You will then have the option to of keeping those high performing employees permanently to continue the growth of your business.

7. Fast-track hiring

Contract staff can usually start work on-site within a few days, avoiding long notice periods or interview processes, and the hassle of backward and forward of counter offers etc. Sherlock Recruitment is always searching for, hiring and growing our database, and we have a pool of contract workers ready to spring into action when you need them and where you need them.

8. Cover while recruiting

Using this strategy is something that is happening more often in the current candidate-driven environment. Due to the difficulties, time and risk of hiring permanent staff, more and more companies are using the services of a contract employee while recruiting for a full-time employee. This strategy takes the pressure to hire off, giving the hiring desk the legroom to evaluate and negotiate with suitable candidates while minimising the strain on the rest of the team. The added perk here is that you might find the contract employee is the ideal fit. Plus, your new permanent recruit will thank you for keeping their workload to a minimum before they start!

9. Extended Trial

So many companies take contract workers on a ‘working interview’, or a trial to permanent basis with a permanent job on offer if things go well. If a contract worker isn’t suited to one role, they might be a good fit somewhere else in your company. Putting contract workers in on this basis gives both the employer and employee the ability to fully understand each other to see if it’s a good fit. Interesting fact: Over one-third of managers started as contract staff – so your new contract employee could go on to be a pivotal member of your business.

10. Risk-free retention of the best staff

By using contract staffing services, a human resource department is under no obligation towards the employee. The employer can evaluate the employee on the job, observe their performance, check their qualifications and monitor their work habits to make sure that the temporary worker meets all the criteria before offering the worker a permanent job. This no-risk employment relationship cuts down on staff turnover because both the temporary employee and the employer are certain of a good fit with the company’s work culture. Additionally, using a recruitment agency for high-volume staff placements will equate to cost savings related to turnover because the company will save on training costs amongst others related to employee recruitment.

These were the top ten reasons companies across Ireland use the services of Sherlock Recruitment and training. If you want to find out more about how companies across Ireland are putting these ten great reasons into practice in different sectors across the Construction industry, then be sure to contact your industry specialists:

General Inquiries: 01 456 8438

Construction Danny: 087 342 5402
Mechanical: Elaine: 087 383 8473
Electrical: David: 087 273 7312

Safety First Says Sherlock


Keeping Construction Teams Safe

Throughout 2018 the construction industry in Ireland has continued to recover with growth rates exceeding the initially anticipated 14%, with current real figures currently sitting around the 20% mark.

Growth figures like this don’t come without their challenges. Due to the recession in the 00’s many of the well-trained tradesmen were forced to leave the country to find work. Leaving today’s Ireland with real challenges in providing capacity and quality of staff needed to deliver on the development goals. The rollover implications of this diminished capacity and high demand are that many companies choose to sidestep vital health and safety certifications, putting not only their workmen at risk but also their organisations.  The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) run a Safety Awareness Week in October driving awareness throughout the industry in an attempt to avoid companies getting complacent on the issue of safety on sites.

Sherlock Recruitment has partnered with the CIF for Safety Week in October 2018 but taking it one step further. Sherlock recruitment has dedicating the entire month to helping companies manage their crew’s safety certifications, drive continued safety awareness throughout their organisations and help reduce injuries and fatalities on sites.

Known for always taking care of their operatives wherever they are in the country Sherlock has now taken their safety first attitude one step further. They are offering a free onsite Safety Certification Audit to organisations throughout the construction industry. They have made this is a free service because of their belief that there shouldn’t be any excuses when it comes to safety. This free service is designed to assist organisations to manage all their staff’s health and safety certifications, drive safety awareness and get you on track with all legal requirements keeping sites, projects and team members protected.

Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF said:

“The CIF is asking companies to make 2018 the safest year in construction so far. A huge amount of work has been done to change behaviour and instil strong safety cultures in sites across Ireland. However, fatalities and non-fatal injuries are often concentrated amongst the small enterprises and sole traders in the industry… Overall, construction is fifth in terms of non-fatal accidents. Considering we employ over 140,000 employees, delivering millions of hours of activity every year, it’s evident that safety is a key focus for our companies. However, the very nature of construction work means that the potential for an accident is always present. Complacency can be a killer.

As our industry continues to recover, more workers will be coming into the industry, and more companies will be formed… We have a responsibility to constantly refresh awareness of health and safety on site to make sure new employees entering the industry have the knowledge and skills necessary to keep safe and well.”

Sherlock Recruitment is a tenacious young company providing staffing solutions to the construction industry across Ireland. Managing their client’s staffing requirements, from sourcing, vetting through to time and payroll management, they are determined to make 2018 the safest year yet.




For more details or queries contact:

Max Henderson- Sherlock Recruitment

Sherlock Recruitment, +353 01 456 8438,