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January 28, 2013

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Irish health and safety regulator unveils three-year strategy

Reducing the regulatory burden, recognising the changing world of work and reaching out to small businesses are the core aims of the Irish health and safety regulator’s strategy for the next three years.

Launching the Health and Safety Authority’s strategy and its programme of work for 2013 on Friday (25 January) the minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, Richard Bruton TD, emphasised the importance of acknowledging the difficulties facing Irish businesses.

He said: “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.”

The Authority’s chief executive, Martin O’Halloran, referring to its ‘Taking care of business’ initiative and online safety tool BeSmart.ie, said the regulator’s efforts to assist and support small businesses will continue.

He added: “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.”

In 2013, the HSA aims to carry out 12,850 targeted inspections and investigations across all sectors, with a particular focus on high-risk industries such as agriculture and construction. The high fatality rate in the former is a big concern for the Authority, which plans to carry out some 3000 farm visits and awareness campaigns this year.

The same number of inspections – 3000 – is planned for the construction sector.

IOSH welcomed the strategy and work plan – particularly the support of the minister and his comment that health and safety is central to successful enterprise. Said Ireland branch chair, Michelle Peate-Morgan: “The strategy can help to reduce the number of fatalities in our workplaces, particularly in the wake of worrying agriculture and fishing deaths in Ireland in recent years.”

She continued: “We’re pleased to see the support promised to SMEs as, often, these companies are hard to reach, especially family-run agriculture and fishing businesses. At IOSH, we’re also seeking to raise awareness and improve education, promoting the message that health and safety improves efficiency and productivity.

“On the other hand, as well as the terrible human toll of injury, ill health and death, workplace accidents can also be the difference between business survival and failure.”

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/
 

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