Planned actions, priorities and inspections for the year have been outlined as the Health and Safety Authority has published its ‘Programme of Work for 2017’.
Reducing the amount of workplace fatalities in all sectors remains a priority and the Authority will carry out a wide range of enforcement, prevention and support activity during 2017.
A total of 11,220 workplace inspections and investigations are planned for 2017. There will be 4,000 construction site inspections with a focus on preventing accidents involving self-employed workers and small sized contractors.
The agriculture sector will also receive significant attention with 2,000 farm inspections planned. There will be a continued emphasis on promoting safety on farms through participation in knowledge-sharing and discussion groups. An updated Farm Safety Code of Practice will also be published.
New and returning workers will be a key theme of the Authority’s safety and health programme. This group has been identified by an ESRI study as being four times more likely to experience a workplace injury than those with a tenure of over five years. During the course of inspections issues such as training, induction and supervision will be addressed.
Statistics from the CSO show that work-related illness now represents more days lost across the whole economy than work-related injury. There will be an emphasis on work-related health activities including the promotion of positive mental health and reduction of work-related stress. The Authority will also continue to contribute to the Government’s ‘Healthy Ireland’ initiative.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) Regulation and the European Commission will finalise its review. The Authority plans to hold a joint conference with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to recognise this milestone.
Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen TD, whose brief includes workplace safety and health welcomed the Authority’s approach, “All workers have the right to have their safety, health and welfare protected while carrying out their duties. Thankfully we saw a reduction in fatal accidents last year, with 44 reported the second lowest number on record. Now it is important to build on any success achieved and focus on areas of concern, such as the continued high rate of injury on farms.
“I also find it alarming that so many serious and fatal injuries, regardless of sector, involve the self-employed. They along with new and returning workers are what I would call ‘vulnerable groups’ and there is a strong focus in the Authority’s work programme on those that are most at risk”, the Clare TD added.
All photos by Jason Clarke Photography