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February 15, 2010

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Health and safety added to school curriculum for Irish students

Secondary-school students in Ireland will have the option to study health and safety as part of the national curriculum, using a range of educational resources provided by the government regulator.

The Health and Safety Authority Transition Year Programme was launched on 11 February by the minister for labour affairs, Dara Calleary TD, following formal ratification of the programme by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. The Transition Year is undertaken by students aged from 15 to 17 (between the equivalent of GCSEs and A-levels) and aims to encourage independent, self-directed learning and development of general, technical and academic skills.

The HSA has provided a range of resources that includes teacher and student workbooks, a DVD, and an e-learning module, all of which will be provided free of charge for schools taking part in the programme. The Transition Year option is currently available in around 75 per cent of Irish schools, and Year directors can now offer the health and safety module as part of their programme.

Work experience plays an integral part of the Year, and the HSA estimates that the work-related injury rate for 15 to 19-year-olds in Ireland in 2007 was higher than for any other age category. Consequently, it places great emphasis on education at an early age, to develop a culture of health and safety that young people can carry forward into their working lives.

Said minister Calleary: “We need to equip our young people with the kind of skill set that will help prepare them for the world of work. They need to be able to identify hazards in the workplace and to know how to protect themselves.”

Chair of the HSA, Jim Lyons, added: “With up to 50 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds in some form of work, whether during the summer or part-time, it is essential that students are prepared for the hazards that are encountered in the workplace.”

IOSH, which is currently campaigning to have health and safety included in the national curriculum in the UK, welcomed the HSA’s initiative. Richard Jones, policy and technical director, commented: “We know that young workers, due to their inexperience, are particularly vulnerable when they first enter the workplace, so anything that can help educate them on health and safety has to be welcomed. It’s good to see the HSA driving this forward.”

Details of the programme are available at

Minister Calleary is pictured at a new ESB Networks sub-station with Patrick Caulfield, a student of Coolmine Community College in Dublin, who will do work experience with the electricity supplier as part of his Transition Year programme

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