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August 25, 2009

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Warning to Irish building industry over fall deaths

Seven workers have died already this year in Ireland as a result of falls from height, five of them in the construction industry.

The Irish Health and Safety Authority has consequently issued a warning to those engaged in work at height to take appropriate precautions.

Last year, there were 15 construction-related deaths in Ireland, three of them as a result of a fall from height.  Expressing concern at the increase, Martin O’Dea, senior inspector with the HSA, said: “Compared to last year, there has been a significant increase in deaths as a result of a fall. Most of the accidents have involved falls from roofs and ladders. Unsecured ladders are particularly dangerous, and I would urge workers to organise and plan their work with their safety and health in mind. It’s also very important that workers only use equipment that is suitable to the job.”
The construction sector in Ireland has seen major improvements in health and safety management in recent years and the regulator emphasised the importance of maintaining this progress. Under its programme of work for 2009, the HSA has set a target for the year of 5500 construction inspections.

Added inspector O’Dea: “The industry has undoubtedly worked hard to reduce the rate of accidents since the early 90s and this focus must be maintained. Working at a height is a dangerous activity and the appropriate planning and safe systems of work must be used.  Employers have a legal duty to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety and health of workers is protected, and workers themselves must also take personal responsibility and not do anything that could jeopardise their safety or the safety of others.”

The Authority has published guidance on the General Application Regulations 2007 work at height provisions, safe use of work platforms/trestles, and safe use of ladders — all available to download free from its website — as is a code of practice for roof workers and working on scaffolds.

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