The Health and Safety Authority uses information and advice as a primary method of achieving compliance. It also provides free resources to enable enterprises manage their employees’ safety and health.
During 2017 the free online safety tool for small businesses, BeSMART.ie, added a further 8,500 new users.
Over 30 industry specific guidance documents were published with approximately 360,000 publications downloaded from the HSA website.
Almost 25,000 students at post-primary and further education participated in the ‘Choose Safety’ programme and 17,750 courses were taken on the Authority’s eLearning portal.
In anticipation of the UK Exit from the EU in 2019, advice was provided to companies on the implications for chemicals supply chains.
Protecting workers and consumers through enforcement
Last year the Authority completed a total of 9,934 inspections and investigations. There were almost 2,000 farm inspections and investigations and over 4,400 carried out in the construction sector. Inspectors issued 512 improvement notices and 547 prohibition notices after serious breaches were found. A total of 21 prosecutions were successfully concluded, resulting in fines of over €2.6m.
As well as protecting workers the Authority plays a key role in protecting consumers. There were 400 market surveillance checks of chemical products on the Irish market, including 200 on detergents to address concerns for consumer safety.
The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) saw increased applications for accreditation in areas that will be affected by the UK exit from the EU. There were 294 site assessment visits completed with 302 decisions taken to maintain and extend accreditation. Also, 21 new applications for accreditation were awarded by the INAB Board.
Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said:
“Tragically 47 people lost their lives due to work activity in 2017 with the farming sector yet again recording the highest fatality rate with 24 deaths. I, through my Department, work closely with the HSA and I know the Authority is working with all sectors, including farming, to promote the benefits of strong health and safety practices. This approach achieves positive results in other sectors and while awareness is high in the farming sector there are still far too many accidents occurring.
The best way to prevent accidents is to encourage employers to take their responsibilities seriously and to assist workers in identifying hazards. Whether on a farm, in a factory or on a fishing boat it is the workers and those supervising the work that are best positioned to make the right decisions in relation to safety, health and welfare.”
Dr Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said:
“A key part of our remit is to foster a culture of prevention, we do this by encouraging employers and employees to work together, to take ownership of safety and health in their workplaces and achieve positive results. We are also committed to providing businesses and enterprises with high levels of advice and support in areas like accreditation and chemical and product legislation. This is to enable them to grow their business and prepare for future impacts such as Brexit.
It is also important for us to balance this support by targeting areas where the risks of accidents or fatalities are high. Last year we implemented strong inspection and awareness campaigns. These campaigns focussed on areas such as safety around vehicles and machinery and health effects arising from stress, poor manual handling and exposure to chemicals.”
Tom Coughlan, Chairman of the Health and Safety Authority said:
“Increased economic activity and employment brings new challenges. We monitor closely how the work environment is changing and the effect these changes are having on work-related hazards. Therefore to deliver on our mandate of safe and healthy workplaces we focus on emerging and existing risks. In doing this we deliver the best outcomes for workers and the enterprises employing them.”
The 2017 Annual Report is available to download.