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March 4, 2010

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Inspector boob causes regulator to back down over workplace calendar

The Irish health and safety watchdog has admitted it acted in “an over-zealous manner” by demanding that a garage-owner remove calendars from his premises featuring topless models.

Michael Daly, 62, who has run Treaty Garage in the south-west city of Limerick for 40 years, received a letter from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) following a routine visit by an inspector, instructing him to “remove photographs of nude/topless women immediately” as “the display of pornographic material at the place of work is not allowed”.

Mr Daly told the Irish Independent newspaper that he had four calendars of topless women on the walls of the garage, where he services cars and carries out repairs. The calendars were all from different motor-trade companies and some of them were more than 10 years old. He said: “They only add a bit of colour and it is better to be looking at them than a cold, old wall on a rainy day.”

The garage-owner pointed out that he also has a framed picture of Virgin Mary near the entrance to the premises.

In a statement, the HSA said: “A range of issues were highlighted and we will be in contact with the garage owner to clarify the specific issue in relation to the display of nude/topless images and to confirm to him that the removal of the images as indicated in our correspondence does not apply. We fully accept that the HSA acted in an over-zealous manner in this matter.”

It concluded: “Our inspectors carry out their work in a positive and proactive way and with due regard for the realities of running a business.  Our work is focused on ensuring that all employees in all workplaces go home safe and sound after a day’s work and, in this regard, the vast majority of workplaces inspected each year will have a positive experience.”

Mr Daly said he was “delighted” at the withdrawal of the demand, hailing it as a victory for common sense.

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