The Health and Safety Authority has today (Tuesday 20th January) published its Programme of Work for 2015, which gives details of its key goals and priorities for the year.
The Authority intends to carry out 11,955 inspections and investigations during 2015, a marginal increase on the target of 11,520 for 2014. The inspections and investigations will cover a number of sectors, with the two high risk sectors, Construction (3,150) and Agriculture (2,300), receiving the most inspections. There will also be 1,755 chemicals safety inspections.
The Minister for Business and Employment, Gerald Nash TD, welcomed the increase in inspections planned by the Authority and said that securing the health and safety of workers is a key priority for him.
“The creation of jobs has been a key goal of the Government but we must also ensure that our growing workforce is safe and secure in the workplace. I would encourage all employers and employees to work together to create a healthy and safe work environment. Clearly some sectors are performing better than others, but there must be a focus on helping all sectors, particularly the self-employed, to achieve high standards in this area. I believe that we can achieve this through improving awareness and changing risk-taking behaviours.”
Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority, said that the sectors that need the most support will be a priority.
“We have to use our resources in a targeted manner and promote accident prevention rather than having an over-reliance on inspections and enforcement. However, it is sometimes necessary to tailor our approach depending on the willingness of particular sectors to take the preventative route.”
Speaking about the type of resources that will be available, Martin O’Halloran said:
“As part of our policy to provide support to small businesses in the high-risk sectors this year, we will add more online tools designed specifically for the Construction and Agriculture sectors.”
Other key themes for the Authority this year will be; the safe management of chemicals, the continued development of legislation and codes of practice and representing Irish interests at EU level.
Michael Horgan, Chairman of the Health and Safety Authority, says that this year will bring significant challenges.
“One of our goals for 2015 is to ensure that any increase in employment doesn’t lead to an increase in accidents. Research shows that a new employees’ first 6 months in a job can be the time when they are most vulnerable and most likely to being injured at work. We will also be developing a new 3 year strategy that takes into account the changing landscape of Irish workplaces and emerging trends.”
There will be a continuing focus on the education programme which has been designed to encourage learners, at all levels, to be aware of the health and safety aspects of work. Developments in e-learning will mean more freely available courses and resources.
Last year the Authority successfully integrated the staff and functions of the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), which has responsibility for the accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies. During 2015 the INAB function of the Authority will make improvements to its service to existing clients while looking to award new accreditations across all sectors.
Issues that affect all sectors including; support for small business, chemicals, vehicle safety , slips, trips and falls , market surveillance, occupational hygiene and work-related stress will also be addressed in 2015.
Copies of the Health and Safety Authority Programme of Work for 2015 can be downloaded from www.hsa.ie