13 Aug 2022

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Government publishes a list of essential workers

The list includes the production, construction and distribution sectors as well as service industries

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Government publishes a list of essential workers

The government has published an extensive list of essential workers along with guidance on how to improve workplace safety during the current coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday, the Department for the Economy released a guide setting out principles and practical steps for employers and employees to keep themselves and their workplaces safe.

It also highlights the steps to be followed if employers and employees are concerned about safety.

In Derry a number of businesses remain operational at present offering delivery, collection and online services.

Other independent businesses in the city are selling ‘no expiry date’ vouchers and fitness centres are streaming workouts via Zoom.

The workplace safety guidance published this week is accompanied by a list of priority business sectors.

The sectors list aims to clarify what constitutes a priority sector at this time and to support companies to continue their business operations if they can work within social distancing guidelines.

Sectors include manufacturing which takes in food and drink, businesses making PPE garments, newspaper printers, manufacturers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, computer/electronic components, cyber products and ‘products critical to local, national global supply chains that are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.’

Other sectors are mining and quarrying, distribution, financial and insurance, agriculture, forestry and fishery and construction - when it relates to emergency services and emergency repairs to homes.

Meanwhile, service industries include transport, food delivery and takeaway, services providing food and drink to those imprisoned or homeless, print and broadcast media, postal service, veterinary activities, dentistry, funeral directors and laundrettes.

A cinema, theatre or concert Hall can broadcast a performance to people outside the premises over

the internet, or on radio or televisionEconomy Minister Diane Dodds published the guidance on making workplaces safer and the list of priority sectors which were drawn up by the Engagement Forum.

The Forum was set up by the Minister to advise the Executive on the list of priority businesses sectors referred to in the Health Protection Regulations.

It was also asked to advise on measures required to protect the safety of all workers.

The forum is chaired by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and consists of representatives from business organisations, trade unions, local councils, government, the Health and Safety Executive NI, Public Health Agency and Food Standards Agency.

It drew up a list of priority business sectors and developed guidance on safe working practices during the current COVID-19 crisis.

The Minister presented these to the Executive on Monday, which agreed to publish both papers.


 Speaking this week the Minister said: “It was very important that so many organisations from across our economy were represented and it is reassuring that they are united in their determination to work together towards a common goal.

“The list is published for advisory purposes to allow companies to make their own decisions. If a company can work within the social distancing guidelines then it should do so.

“The safety guidance will have practical application in the workplace.

“Along with the accompanying guidance on safe working practices, the list is there to protect everyone in the workplace, to ensure our essential supply chains remain solid and to help Northern Ireland be ready to rebuild its economy when this crisis has passed.”

She went on to say that the aim of the priority sectors list, which is fully supported by both business and union representatives on the Forum, is to clarify what constitutes a priority sector at this time, and to support Northern Ireland companies to continue their business operations and protect the incomes of their workforces.

The accompanying workplace safety guidance – ‘COVID-19: Working Through This Together, A Practical Guide to Making Workplaces Safer’ – has been developed and informed by professional advice from the HSE, PHA and the LRA as well as input from an employer and trade union perspective.

Details of the priority list and accompanying guidance are available at:

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