The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD has today launched the new Health and Safety Authority 3 year Strategy and 2013 Programme of Work. The ultimate aim of the new strategy is to continue to reduce accidents and ill-health in the workplace over the next three years. Figures from the Authority show that there has been a downward trend in the fatal injury rate since 2003.
One of the other main priorities of the Authority is to reduce the regulatory burden and provide tools to enable business comply with their legal obligations.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Bruton welcomed the goals of the Authority as set out in the strategy:
“It is important to recognise the difficulties facing all businesses. There is a need to find efficiencies but not at the expense of the safety, health and welfare of workers. The collaborative approach adopted by the Authority, using targeted inspections and compliance tools, is designed to encourage buy-in from all stakeholders. As we implement the Action Plan for Jobs, rebuild the economy and create employment it is important that trends in workplace accidents and ill-health continue downwards.”
According to Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Authority, the recently created ‘Taking Care of Business’ initiative designed to provide assistance and support to small businesses will continue. “The work we have done to promote the benefits of safe and healthy workplaces has increased levels of awareness and knowledge. This has helped to highlight a wider realisation that less accidents mean less costs in terms of insurance premiums, sick pay, compensation, fines and all of the other costs associated with accidents in the workplace.”
Martin O’Halloran continued, “We have also created an online safety resource called BeSMART.ie. It is freely available and is being used by over 11,000 businesses. We intend to extend the functionality of this service and aim to have 17,500 users by the end of the year.”
Michael Horgan, Chairman of the Health and Safety Authority, said that they are well positioned to meet the needs of Ireland’s workplaces. “The new strategy recognises the changing landscape of the workforce and the workplace. Industries such as pharmaceuticals and chemicals have assumed increased importance to the economy. The Chemical safety legislation implemented by the Authority is vital in terms of the regulation and competitiveness of these sectors.”
Minister Bruton also launched the Authority’s work programme which sets out the themes and activities for 2013. This will include 12,850 targeted inspections and investigations across all sectors. Resources will be targeted at high risk sectors and places of work.
A key theme for 2013 will be to address the high fatality rate in the Agriculture sector. This year, along with 3,000 farm visits and awareness campaigns, the Farm Safety Partnership will be engaging with farmers and their families.
Inspections numbers in the construction sector will remain high with 3,000 scheduled and the Authority will be working to ensure that there is no decrease in safety standards. There will also be a national awareness campaign planned to inform industry of the REACH registration deadline in May.
During Ireland’s EU Presidency the Authority will host a number of conferences which will present opportunities to influence international and European health and safety agendas in Ireland’s interest.
Finding ways to maintain a high level of service with reduced budgets and staff numbers will be another theme this year. The programme of work for 2013 makes a clear commitment to achieve efficiencies through co-operation and knowledge sharing with other regulatory bodies.
Copies of the HSA Strategy Statement 2013 – 2015 and Programme of Work 2013 can be downloaded from http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/