All employers including the self-employed must have a safety statement specific to their workplace and work activities.
The Safety Statement: a written document which specifies how health and safety is going to be managed within the business and it is the cornerstone of effective health and safety management in any business. The Safety Statement will also contain your policy and risk assessments and the controls required to minimise the risks from the hazards in the workplace, as well as detailing the names of those responsible for putting them into practice.
The Safety Statement must be reviewed and, if necessary, amended as required. This should be done on a annual basis or more frequently if for example your business changes and your employees are exposed to new hazards e.g. the introduction of new machinery or new work practices, or when there is reason to believe that it is no longer adequate, e.g. changes to health and safety arrangements and resources, or a near-miss incident.
The Safety statement must be brought to the attention of the employees and to any other persons at the place of work who might be exposed to the specific risks outlined in the document. When bringing the Safety Statement to the attention of employees, it must be in a form, manner and, if necessary, a language that can be understood by employees
Risk assessment is a cornerstone of good health and safety management. All employers regardless of the size of business are required by law to carry out a risk assessment at their place of work and to keep a written record of that risk assessment. People are often put off by the idea of Risk Assessment because they think it is over complicated, difficult to complete and unnecessary. This does not need to be the case.
Risk Assessment is simply looking closely at what in your place of work or about your work activities could cause harm to your employees and visitors to your workplace (e.g. customers, suppliers, sales representatives etc) and determining the control measures you can implement to minimise the risk.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out the main provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of people at work. The law applies to all places of work regardless of how many workers are employed and includes the self-employed.
The core of the legislation is the risk assessment approach and the legal duty on employers to prepare a written health and safety document referred to as a Safety Statement. Employers (including self-employed persons) are also responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
Employer’s duties include:
Employees, including those employed on a part-time or temporary basis, also have duties including:
Instruction, training and supervision of employees (part 2, section10)
The employer must ensure that:
What legislation covers manual handling?
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Applications) Regulations 2007, Chapter 4 of Part 2, outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to manual handling. The key requirements include:
Do I need to assess every manual handling task?
Manual Handling is a physical activity that takes place in every workplace, and in some cases the activity does not pose problem. However it can be a potential workplace hazard when an employee is required to handled very heavy loads, which could result in a back injury. The type of manual handling activity that needs to be assessed is defined in Regulation 68 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007:
“ Manual Handling involves any transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.”
These characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions are the risk factors which are outlined in Schedule 3 of the 2007 Regulations and have the potential to cause harm.
Why does manual handling result in a risk of injury or ill health?
Many of the problems that cause back pain are the result of injury and damage to a disc. Bending over results in pressure on the discs, and may also cause a disc to bulge backward towards the spine. Twisting and bending together put the greatest stress on the spine, especially on the discs, and are examples of work conditions that increase the risk of back injury.
How do I carry out a risk assessment of manual handling tasks?
Are there appropriate guidance documents to refer to for advice and direction on how to comply with the
Manual Handling of Loads Regulation?
There are four guidance documents available in relation to the Manual Handling of Loads Regulation
Is there any guidance document I can refer to for information on the Manual Handling Training System?
How often do employees need refresher training?
Refresher training will be at intervals not more than every three years and when there is any major change in the work involved or equipment used or when an employee is transferred to another activity requiring different loads to be handled.
Are there minimum requirements for the duration of manual handling training courses for employees?
The Health and Safety Authority do not specify time duration for manual training courses though the typical industry accepted norm for first time trainees is a half day course. The duration of the training course should be tailored to the number and complexity of the handling procedures being taught. The employers must satisfy themselves that the instructor who delivers the course covers the relevant topics comprehensively.
The 2005 Act provides for consultation between employers and employees to help ensure co-operation in the prevention of accidents and ill health. Under Section 25 of the 2005 Act, employees are entitled to select a safety representative to represent them on safety and health matters with their employer. Section 26 sets out the arrangements for this consultation on a range of safety and health issues at the workplace. Where a safety committee is in existence in a workplace it can be used for this consultation process. These are key provisions of the 2005 Act and a central part of the preventive system of promoting safety and health at work.
Section 25 entitles employees to decide on, select and appoint a safety representative or, by agreement with their employer, more than one safety representative to represent them in consultations with the employer on matters of safety, health and welfare at the place of work.
There is no set number of safety representatives required in an organisation. Section 25, as stated above, entitles employees to decide on, select and appoint a safety representative or, by agreement with their employer, more than one safety representative. Therefore, in determining a suitable number of safety representatives, the following factors should be considered:
Special consideration may need to be given to those situations where the employees spend most of their working time away from the nominal place of work, e.g. care workers, goods delivery depots and local authority service yards.
Also, in some situations, a single safety representative may be unable to perform all the functions as listed under the 2005 Act effectively. In these cases, the safety committee can also usefully assist in the consultation process. Agreement should be reached between the employer and the employees on how many safety representatives are necessary in particular circumstances, where more than one safety representative may be required.
Note that there are special provisions covering safety representation in the construction industry contained in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations.
No specific term of office is laid down in the 2005 Act. However, to gain most benefit from knowledge acquired and training received during the period, a term of office of about three years seems appropriate. There should, however, be provision for review by the employees, perhaps on an annual basis.
No. A safety representative does not have any duties, as opposed to functions, under the 2005 Act, other than those that apply to employees generally. Therefore, a safety representative who accepts a management proposal for dealing with a safety or health issue could not be held legally accountable for putting the proposal into effect.
A safety representative may consult with, and make representations to, the employer on safety, health and welfare matters relating to the employees in the place of work. The employer must consider these representations, and act on them if necessary. The intention of these consultations is to prevent accidents and ill health, to highlight problems, and identify means of over-coming them. Consultations would be particularly important when changes are taking place, for example when drawing up a safety plan, or introducing new technology or work processes, including new substances. They also have a part to play in long established work practices and hazards.
The functions of the safety representative also include:
A safety representative, after giving reasonable notice to the employer, has the right to inspect the whole or part of a workplace he or she represents, at a frequency or on a schedule agreed between him/her and the employer, based on the nature and extent of the hazards in the place of work. A safety representative also has the right to immediately inspect where an accident, dangerous occurrence or imminent danger or risk to the safety, health and welfare of any person has occurred.
Factors that should be considered when deciding the frequency of inspections include:
What type of inspections does the safety representative undertake?
Inspections can take various forms, which can be used either separately or in any combination. Such common types of inspections are:
A safety representative may investigate accidents and dangerous occurrences in the place of work to find out the causes and help identify any remedial or preventive measures necessary. However, a safety representative must not interfere with anything at the scene of the accident. Nor can the safety representative obstruct any person with statutory obligations, including a Health and Safety Authority inspector, from doing anything required of them under occupational safety and health legislation. Physical evidence must not be disturbed before an inspector has had the opportunity to see it.
Under Section 8 of the 2005 Act there is a duty on an employer to provide “information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees” (including safety representatives). The type of information provided will vary according to the hazards and risks involved.
Safety representatives must have access to:
The employer must supply the safety representative with:
Any employee, which includes the safety representative, can obtain two kinds of information from Health and Safety Authority inspectors:
It is in the employer‘s interest to ensure that safety representatives are supplied with all the relevant information. However, there are limited exceptions. The employer need not provide any information:
The confidentiality rules that apply to any workplace will apply to any information provided to safety representatives under the 2005 Act.
The employer has a duty to provide the kind of information necessary for safety and health at work, whereas the inspector would be expected to supply information that the employer would not be in a position to supply, e.g. results of measurements, sampling or assessment carried out by the inspector.
Yes. It is essential that safety representatives have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their function effectively. Training courses for safety representatives are provided by trade unions and other organisations.
Annex 2 of the Safety Representatives and Safety Consultation Guidelines details the course content for training safety representatives and safety committee members. There are 10 elements that are to be included in this training:
No. Section 25 (5) of the 2005 Act requires employers to allow safety representatives reasonable time off from work, without loss of earnings, in order to acquire knowledge that will enable them to function effectively. This also applies to time taken to carry out these functions.
Employers, for the purpose of promoting and developing measures to ensure safety, health and welfare, must consult their employees in establishing arrangements for securing co-operation in the workplace on safety, health and welfare. These arrangements will allow employees to be consulted on the steps taken to safeguard their safety, health and welfare and on measures to check how effective the safeguards have been.
Consultation must be made in advance and in good time so as to allow employees time to consider, discuss and give an opinion on the matters before managerial decisions are made. The information given under Section 9 of the 2005 Act must be sufficient to allow employees to fully and effectively participate in the consultation process. The difference between the provision of information and consultation should be noted. Consultation with employees involves listening to their views and taking them into account as part of the decision making process.
As employees have a right to make representations to their employer on any safety and health matters, the employer must facilitate this process. Actively promoting and supporting employee participation in all aspects of the safety and health management programme can do this. By pooling knowledge and experience through active employee participation, the employer gains their commitment and greater involvement and ensures safety and health really becomes everybody’s business.
Employers must consult in advance and in good time on anything carried out in the workplace, which can have a substantial effect on safety and health. Any type of work activity already covered by safety and health law is valid for discussion. Consultation must cover:
Employees involved in the safety consultation arrangements, e.g. safety committee members, are also entitled to time off for training, without loss of earnings, so that they can acquire the knowledge to discharge their functions. The syllabus set out in Annex 2 of the Guidelines can also be used for training members of the safety committee.
In addition to complying with the guidelines set out in Schedule 4 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the following points will help the safety committee and other employee participation programmes to operate more efficiently:
No. Section 27 of the 2005 Act protects employees generally from penalisation for any safety and health issues. This includes any employee who is a safety representative or is involved in the safety consultation and safety committee processes. Section 27 prohibits an employer from penalising or threatening to penalise an employee with respect to any term or condition of his or her employment to his or her detriment, if the employee is:
Do I need a qualified First Aid Responder in my workplace?
A risk assessment in the context of the Safety Statement should consider the numbers employed, the nature of the work, the degree of hazard, the level of accidents arising, the size and location of the workplace, the distribution of the employees, shift working, availability of an occupational health service with the workplace and the distance and duration from external medical services etc.
How many first aiders should be present in a workplace?
The table below from the Health & Safety Authority gives an indicative number of first aiders required for different types of workplaces.
|Type of Workplace||Maximum No. of|
at any one time
|No. of Occupational|
|Factories, Construction Sites, Surface Mines and Quarries||up to 49||1 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary|
|> 300||1 extra for every 150 employees or|
|Underground Mines||1 for every 10 employees|
or part thereof
|Other workplaces||up to 99||1 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary|
|more than 700||1 extra for every 300 employees or part thereof.|
If the designated First Aid Responder is absent from the place of work, what must the employer do?
If the First Aid Responder is absent in temporary or exceptional circumstances, the employer may designate a person, to take charge of an injured or ill person until medical assistance is obtained. Such person’s functions, if they have not received training in basic life saving skills, would, primarily be to seek appropriate assistance as soon as possible and to ensure that nothing further is allowed to occur which would exacerbate the problems of the injured person.
Foreseeable absences such as planned annual leave are not considered “temporary or exceptional circumstances” In these situations the employer must ensure that there is an adequate number of trained occupational first aiders to cover the foreseeable absences or leave, if the need for an occupational first aider in the workplace has been identified.
How is a First Aid Responder contacted?
There must be effective means of communication to contact the first aider when required, which will include a telephone/ mobile phone/ pager/ radio.
How are the emergency services contacted?
The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the local emergency services must be clearly displayed in the workplace. Emergency plans and procedures must be in place and people designated and trained to implement them. It must be clear who makes contact with the emergency services.
How long is a First Aid Responder training course?
The PHECC FAR training course is not less than 18 contact hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.
What is the retraining/recertification requirement?
For the PHECC FAR award, the recertification course is currently not less than 12 hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.
When do First Aid Responder need additional training?
First Aid Responders may need additional specialised training if a work place has employees exposed to any special hazards such as:
What is the maximum number of learners/trainees to an instructor?
PHECC FAR instructor/learner ratio is 1:8. This is to ensure learners have sufficient time to develop first aid skills. The instructor is required to have a mannequin and training AED for every 2 learners.
Who does the first aid assessment?
For the PHECC FAR 3 day course and recertification course, the instructor does the assessment without the need for an examiner.
What type of a certificate does a first aider receive?
Learners receive a PHECC first aid response (FAR) certificate or recertification.
What happens if a first aider’s training lapses?
Where training lapses, PHECC FAR recertification is required if the lapse is less than 30 days, otherwise the full 3 day training is required. Note as of the 1st August 2021, this 30 day grace period was temporarily extended to 3 months.
How long is certification valid for?
Certification is valid for 2 years after which recertification training is required.
Are first aid certificates from other countries valid in Ireland?
No -There are no mutual recognition agreements between Ireland and other countries on occupational first aid. Therefore first aid certificates obtained in other countries are not transferable and are not valid in Ireland. In order to be a valid First Aid Responder in Ireland, you must do the training in Ireland.
What should be in a first aid box or travel kit?
The table below from the Health & Safety Authority shows the recommended contents of first aid boxes and travel kits.
|Materials||First Aid Travel Kit Contents|
First Aid Box
|1-10 persons||11-25 persons||26-50 persons*1|
|Sterile Eye Pads (No. 16) (bandage attached)||2||2||2||4|
|Individually Wrapped Triangular Bandages||2||2||6||6|
|Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Medium (No. 8) (10 x 8cm’s)||1||2||2||4|
|Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Large (No. 9) (13 x 9cm’s)||1||2||6||8|
|Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Extra Large (No. 3) (28 x 17.5cm’s)||1||2||3||4|
|Individually Wrapped Disinfectant Wipes||10||10||20||40|
|Examination Gloves Pairs||3||5||10||10|
|Sterile water where there is no clear running water*2||2x20mls||1x500mls||2x500mls||2x500mls|
|Pocket Face Mask||1||1||1||1|
|Water Based Burns Dressing Small (10x10cm’s)*3||1||1||1||1|
|Water Based Burns Dressing Large*3||1||1||1||1|
|Crepe Bandage (7cm )||1||1||2||3|
*1: Where more than 50 persons are employed, pro-rata provision should be made.
*2: Where mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed disposable containers should be provided. Each container should hold at least 20ml and should be discarded once the seal is broken. Eye bath/eye cups/refillable containers should not be used for eye irrigation due to risk of cross infection. The container should be CE marked.
*3: Where mains tap water is not readily available for cooling burnt area.
Is there some flexibility on the contents of boxes and kits?
The above Table provides a general guide on the recommended contents of occupational first aid boxes and kits based on numbers employed. Quantities indicated in the Table are minimum numbers and can be increased. The requirements for sterile water and water based burns dressings as per note 2 and 3 above are only where there is not a wholesome supply of tap water available. Also a single paramedic shears and pocket face mask is considered adequate.
Occasionally the quantities indicated in the Table will be insufficient and the actual amounts required should be based on a risk assessment. An obvious example is that drivers of dangerous goods vehicles would require a quantity of 2x 500mls of sterile water for eye irrigation in their travel kits due to the risk of contact with hazardous chemicals.
What first aid records and documentation need to be kept?
The names of the First Aid Responder must be recorded in the Safety Statement along with the location of the first aid rooms, equipment and facilities.
Written records of the dates of all first aid training, including recertification training should be kept at the workplace and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.
Records of all cases treated by the first aider should be kept in a suitable secure place, respecting their confidential nature and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.
The table below shows the details to be recorded.
|Name of patient||Type of injury||Treatment given||Name of occupational first aider||Date|
Can a first aider give out painkillers/headache tablets?
First aid does not cover the administration of drugs or medications and they should not be kept in the workplace first aid box or kit. In certain circumstances first aiders can assist in the administration of aspirin if available for suspected cardiac chest pain.
What is an AED?
A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart muscle through the chest wall in order to restore a normal heart rate.
An automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a portable defibrillator designed to be automated such that it can be used by persons without substantial medical training who are responding to a cardiac emergency.
Are First Aid Responders trained in the use of AED?
Yes, AED is part of the PHECC FAR standard and first aiders are trained in its use.
Are employers required to have an AED?
No, but it would be good practice to have one as long as it is properly maintained.
Do I have to have a first aid room at my workplace?
Premises must have one or more first aid rooms if the Safety Statement risk assessment shows that it is necessary and based on the following criteria:
What should be considered when planning and designing first aid rooms?
A number of factors need to be considered when planning, designing and equipping first aid rooms:
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007, Chapter 5 of Part 2 outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to Display Screen Equipment.
Note: Display Screen Equipment is referred to as VDU in this Frequently Asked Questions document.
These regulations are applicable:
The Regulations provide for the exclusion of:
“workstation” means an assembly comprising display screen equipment, which may be provided with a keyboard or input device or software, or a combination of the foregoing, determining the operator and machine interface, and includes—
(a) a work chair and work desk or work surface,
(b) any optional accessories and peripherals, and
(c) the immediate work environment of the display screen equipment.
As an employer there are a number of duties set down it this regulation, the key requirements are to:
There are four stages in the risk assessment process:
Stage 1: Initial consultation with the employee
As a first step you (or the person who is conducting the risk assessment) should consult with the employee at the workstation in order to collect information on the main tasks completed at the workstation. It is important to provide the employee with an opportunity to comment during the course of the assessment.
Stage 2: Observation of the employee working at the computer workstation
You should observe the employee working at the workstation and should record whether the workstation meets the minimum requirements detailed in Schedule 4 of the Display Screen Equipment Regulation. These requirements can be incorporated into the risk assessment form as a checklist and you can indicate compliance or non-compliance as appropriate. The picture below shows an example of a poor workstation set up:
Stage 3: Identify the issues that need to be addressed
You should detail the issues to be addressed on the risk assessment form. The picture below provides examples of issues that might need to be addressed.
An action plan should be prepared stipulating how the issues will be addressed, who will take the necessary action and when the actions will be completed. A copy of the completed risk assessment should be given to the employee for his or her records and for further follow-up where required. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the actions are completed.
Stage 4: Review the implementation of the action plan
You will need to revisit the workstation if there were issues to be addressed. You should consult with the employee and observe whether the issues highlighted in the risk assessment have been addressed. When everything is satisfactory, you and the employee should sign off on the risk assessment document.
The picture below shows a computer workstation that has been assessed and has had improvements put in place, including adjustment of monitor to the correct height, improved lighting, provision of a document holder, footrest and an adjustable seat.
A competent person must carry out the risk assessment of an employees workstation. A person is deemed to be competent if he or she possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to conducting a risk assessment of a workstation. Depending on the situation, this may be an internal person or it may be external expertise. You need to be satisfied that the person conducting the risk assessment is capable of doing so properly and effectively.
It is not sufficient to allow employees to use a software package or other means to assess their own workstations, it is a duty of the employer to carry out an analysis or risk assessment of an employees workstation.
Yes. A documented analysis or risk assessment of a work station should include the following:
Yes. There will be situations where employees will move to a new workstation due to changing work commitments. The employer needs to carry out a new workstation assessment at the employees new workstation. A system should exist that when changes such as this take place a formal request is submitted to have a new workstation assessment carried out. The analysis should take account of any changes in equipment or technology.
Regulation 71 (d) states that “this Chapter does not apply to… portable display screen equipment not in prolonged use at a workstation”
Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 Chapter 5 of Part 2: Display Screen Equipment says
“A laptop is not covered by these Regulations due to the fact that under these Regulations the keyboard shall be tiltable and separate from the screen so as to allow the user to find a comfortable working position which avoids fatigue in the arms or hands.
A laptop does not have a separate keyboard and a user should not work of the laptop directly for long periods of time.
It is recommended that a laptop should be connected to a separate monitor and keyboard, The workstation can then be assessed to record whether the workstation meets the requirements detailed in the Display Screen Equipment Regulation.
Other temporary laptop workstation set ups should be assessed to determine the usage of the laptop and to identify potential risks, however the user should not work of the laptop directly for long periods of time.
Schedule 4 details the minimum requirements for all Display Screen Equipment that should be in place for Display Screen Equipment workstations. In conducting a workstation assessment the employer must take account of the minimum requirements specified in Schedule 4. This Schedule covers a range of elements which include the following
The employer must inform employees that they are entitled to be provided with an appropriate eye and eyesight test, which would be carried out by a competent person. The employer may do this in a number of ways including the following –
Every employee who habitually uses a VDU as a significant part of normal work has a right to opt for an appropriate eye test and an eyesight test which must be made available and paid for by the employer.
A doctor or optometrist can carry this out. It may also be carried out by a person (including a nurse) trained to use a vision-screening machine. The person operating the machine must know when to refer employees who do not pass the eyesight tests at the screening level to a doctor or optometrist.
Employees have the right to an eye and eyesight test before taking up work if it is habitual work with a VDU as well as at regular intervals thereafter. In determining the intervals, factors such as the ages of the employees and the intensity of VDU work should be taken into account in deciding the frequency of repeat tests. Additionally, an appropriate eye and eyesight test must be made available to an employee who experiences visual difficulties which may be due to display screen work.
Where eye tests carried out by the doctor or optometrist reveal that particular lenses are required for VDU work, the costs of minimum requirement frames and lenses must be borne by the employer. Where an employee already wears glasses to correct a visual defect (normal corrective appliances), and routine change of lenses arises, if these glasses are adequate also for VDU work, the employer is not liable as regards meeting the cost. The cost of dealing with more general eye problems which are revealed as a result of the tests and which are not directly related to working with a VDU is a matter for the employee as part of his or her general health care, taking account of health care entitlements.
Employers should provide training in the use of the workstation before an employee commences work on a VDU and, again, should the organisation of the workstation be altered. Training should include –
Correct lighting arrangements are essential if eye fatigue is to be avoided. Suitable back ground lighting is required for VDU work to provide an appropriate contrast between the screen and the background environment and to avoid problems of reflection and glare. As a general rule, a level of lighting of 300 – 500 lux should be appropriate. If more light is required for reading documents, local lighting should be used. However the light from a table lamp etc. must not shine on the VDU or the immediate surrounding area.
Employers must plan work so that daily work at VDU’s is interrupted periodically by breaks or changes in activity which reduce the work at the screen. Although the Regulations set no frequency for breaks, no single continuous period of work at a screen should, in general, exceed one hour.
The regulation does not specify the frequency and duration of work breaks when working with VDU’s, nor is there any generally accepted standard. In some countries, including Ireland, there are employer trade union agreements on work breaks at company level.
The flow of work to a VDU user should be designed to allow natural breaks to occur. Alternatively, a change in the pattern of work by combining VDU and non-VDU work could be introduced. However, rest breaks are essential where continuous VDU work, requiring sustained attention is likely to result in fatigue. Ideally, the length of the rest should reflect the intensity of the individual job. However, there are four important points –
The user should avoid contact stress with hard surfaces while typing, the use of a wrist rest in front of the keyboard is okay and the user may position the keyboard at the edge of the desk.
What types of work are defined as construction and therefore included under these Regulations?
Examples of construction work on your house, which may come within these regulations, would include employing somebody to complete:
1. Building an extension, porch or garage
2. An attic conversion
3. Re-fitting a kitchen etc
4. Re-slating a roof
5. Getting solar panels or skylight fitted etc.
DIY work does not come within the regulations.
What are the Construction Regulations?
They are a set of regulations which set out the safety and health requirements for construction work. These requirements stem from European legislation known as Directives which Ireland as a Member of the EU must implement fully.
Does this apply if I am doing all the work myself, for example DIY?
No, these Regulations will not apply if you are carrying out the work yourself and not employing anybody to do it for you. In these circumstances you are not a client and not subject to occupational health and safety legislation.
Who is a “Client” under the Regulations?
A “client” is any person having building/construction work carried out. Clients include individuals such as homeowners and those running small businesses. Clients can also be entities, for example local authorities and private bodies such as companies and similar undertakings, including charities and other non-profit organisations.
My partner and I are having construction work done on our home, which one of us is the Client under the new Regulations?
For the purposes of the regulations it is acceptable (if agreed in writing) that one of the parties takes on the role of Client for the project. It is also acceptable for both parties to take on the role of Client.
When will these changes take effect?
These Regulations are in place from August 01st 2013.
What new responsibilities have these Regulations imposed on homeowners?
You will have to:
1. Ensure you use competent people to do paid construction work for you,
2. Appoint project supervisors for projects that involve more than 1 contractor, involve a particular risk or are planned to last greater than 30days,
3. Keep the safety file for the work as appropriate (this will be provided to you by your Project Supervisor at the end of your project, and
4. Let the Health and Safety Authority know if your project is going to take longer than 30 days or more than 500 person days (person days mean the number of days the work takes multiplied by the number of people doing the work).
What is a Project Supervisor Design Process?
A “Project Supervisor Design Process” (PSDP) is a person who coordinates the design safety aspect of your project. This can be the client, the lead designer or another person where competent to do so.
What is a Project Supervisor Construction Stage?
A “Project Supervisor Construction Stage” (PSCS) is a person who coordinates the construction safety aspect of your project. This can be the client, the main contractor or another contractor where competent to do so.
Can a Project Supervisor for the design and construction be the same person?
Yes, if they are competent to take on the roles.
Can I fulfil the Project Supervisor’s roles myself?
Yes, it is possible to appoint yourself in these roles. It is important to note, however, that you must be competent to carry out these roles and they do carry duties under the Regulations. Normally these roles are carried out by experienced designers or contractors.
When do I need to appoint Project Supervisors for my project?
You must appoint project supervisors if:
– there is more than one contractor involved in the work, or
– there is a particular risk (see below), or
– the work is going to last more than 30 days or more than 500 person days.
How do I appoint Project Supervisors?
The appointments must be made in writing at the start of the design and the start of the construction stages. These appointments must also be accepted in writing by the Project Supervisors. There is a template form available for this in the HSA Homeowner guide.
What is a Particular Risk?
A Particular Risk is includes:
– works that put a person at risk of falling from a height where the risk is aggrevated by other factors e.g. roofwork where access is restricted,
– burial under an earthfall where the risk is aggrevated by other factors, for example, deep excavations in poor soil conditions,
– works near high voltage power lines, for example, building a house on a site which has existing power lines crossing the site,
– works exposing a person to the risk of drowning, for example, construction of wall beside or near a pond or river,
– work involving the setting up or taking down of heavy parts, for example, installation of precast floors or assembly of steel beams, or
– work involving asbestos.
The list above is not exaustive, projects may have particular risks which are not listed above. If you need further advice on what is a particular risk talk to your designer or contractor. They are competent and will be able to advice on what is or is not a particular risk for your project. Your Designer and Contractor are obliged by the regulations to inform you if the project you are engaged in requires Project Supervisors (i.e. if there is a particular risk, more than one contractor or if it is scheduled to last greater than 30 days).
How do I know the people I hire are competent?
All designers, contractors and project supervisors working on a domestic project have a duty to demonstrate to the Client that they are competent to carry out the works safely. The homeowner should take reasonable steps to assess competency. Asking questions such as those in our Homeowner Guidance will help you with this.
Can my architect/designer make the appointments for me?
As the “client” you must make the appointments. However, your architect or builder can assist you in making these appointments and can also take on the roles of Project Supervisor Construction Stage or Project Supervisor Design Process if they are competent to do so.
If I am renting a house, am I a “Client”?
The person having the building work done is the client, in most cases it will be the landlord (including local authorities) who will be the client. In a small minority of cases where you as a tenant get building work done on the property then you may fall under the definition of a client.
What about building work on apartments?
As in all other construction work the person who is having the building work done is the “client”. For example:
– If you engage a builder to re-fit your kitchen and move an internal wall then you are the client.
– If the building management agency is having the basement car park resurfaced, then they are the client.
Why are we making these changes?
These changes are being made to bring Ireland fully into compliance with the requirements of an earlier EU Directive relating to health and safety for workers involved in construction. Duties already apply to commercial enterprises, both large and small, and these Regulations extend certain duties onto homeowners who are having building work done on their house or on someone who is having a new home built that they intend to live in.
What benefits will these changes bring?
These Regulations should further enhance construction safety. In the past three years (up to 2013), 12 fatal accidents and many more serious injuries have occurred in the course of construction work on private homes. In that regard, these new Regulations will mean that “competent persons” (known as Project Supervisors) will be in place to co-ordinate the design and build of private homes. Compliance with these Regulations should lead to better safety standards on small construction sites and thereby reduce the level of injuries and fatalities occurring on such sites each year. Construction work is intrinsically high-risk and nobody wants anyone to be killed while construction work is taking place on their house.
Will a person charge extra to take on these responsibilities?
Any additional charges which a contractor might wish to levy for taking on the roles of Project Supervisor are a matter for negotiation between the client and the contractor.
What if the contractor has an accident?
If there is an accident on the building site and the person is out of work for more than three consecutive days the contractor must report the accident to the HSA who may investigate. If you are a client and have made your appointments you will have fulfilled your duties and responsibilities in that respect.
Can I be prosecuted if I do not make the appointment?
We have produced guidance and forms to help homeowners fulfil their duties as simply as possible. However these are legal duties and it would be an offence to fail to comply with them.
I have just discovered I’m pregnant – from when do the regulations protect me from hazards in the workplace?
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 6, Chapter 2, Protection of Pregnant, Post Natal and Breastfeeding Employees (from now on referred to as The Pregnancy Regulations) apply when an employee informs her employer that she is pregnant, has recently given birth or is breastfeeding and provides an appropriate medical certificate. As the earliest stages of pregnancy are the most critical ones for the developing child it is in the employee’s best interest to let her employer know she is pregnant as soon as possible.
What other legislation provides protection during this period?
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Pregnancy Regulations,2007 require that a risk assessment be done as part of the Safety Statement. This is required in all workplaces. The risk assessment should already have identified any hazards, which may present a risk during pregnancy. The risk assessment specifically required by the Pregnancy Regulations should therefore, be a re-appraisal of these hazards.
The Pregnancy Regulations and the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 give effect to the health and safety provisions of the Pregnant Workers’ Directive (92/85/EEC).
What should the employer do when he/she becomes aware that that an employee is pregnant?
Once an employer becomes aware that an employee is pregnant, they must assess the specific risks from the employment to that employee and take action to ensure that she is not exposed to anything, which would damage either her health or that of her developing child.
What does assess the risk mean?
This means determining:
What are the main hazard types to which a pregnant or breast feeding employee can be exposed?
The main hazards types are:
What do General hazards include?
What are the hazards specific to pregnancy?
Unless the risk assessment indicates that there will be no injury to the employee or the developing child, pregnant employees must not work with:
What are the hazards specific to breastfeeding?
Unless the risk assessment indicates there will be no injury to the employee or the developing child, employees who are breastfeeding must not work with:
I am breastfeeding – what are my rights in the workplace?
The Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 provides that breastfeeding mothers will be entitled, under legislation, to paid time off for the purposes of breastfeeding or expressing milk in the workplace, where facilities are provided by the employer, or a reduction in working hours (on full pay) to facilitate breastfeeding where facilities are not provided. The employer will be required to provide facilities where this does not give rise to more than a nominal cost. These are measures to encourage breastfeeding and not health and safety provisions.
For information on how to manage combining breastfeeding and work see the Health Service Executive site.
I am pregnant – does my employer need to provide a rest room?
Regulation 24 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 states “an employer shall ensure that pregnant, post natal and breastfeeding employees are able to lie down to rest in appropriate conditions”.
I work in a very noisy environment – can it harm my hearing or that of my unborn child?
There are no specific risks to new or expectant mothers or to the foetus but prolonged exposure to loud noise may lead to increased blood pressure and tiredness. There are no particular problems for women who have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding. Compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 5, Chapter 1, Control of Noise at Work should be sufficient to meet the needs of new or expectant mothers.
I am pregnant/breastfeeding and work with radioactive sources. What damage can they cause?
Significant exposure to ionising radiation is harmful to the foetus. If a pregnant woman or a nursing mother works with ionising radiation sources, these can cause exposure to the foetus through ingestion or via contamination of the mother’s skin and transfer across the placenta to the foetus or by breastfeeding to the baby. Work procedures should be designed to keep exposure of the pregnant woman as low as reasonably practicable and certainly below the statutory dose limit for a pregnant woman. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not be employed in work where the risk of such contamination is high.
How and where can I find information on the statutory ionising radiation dose limits currently applying to pregnant employees?
The Environmental Protection Agency enforces legislation on ionising radiation in Ireland and should be contacted in relation to this area.
I am working with non-ionising radiation – can it cause damage to my unborn baby or me?
Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers are at no greater risk than other workers when working with optical radiation. Exposure to electric and magnetic fields when working with electromagnetic fields and waves within current recommendations is not known to cause harm to the foetus or the mother. However extreme over-exposure to radio-frequency radiation can raise body temperature making the pregnant mother uncomfortable.
Can extremes of cold or heat affect my unborn baby or me?
When pregnant, women tolerate heat less well and may be liable to heat stress and faint easily. Breast-feeding may be impaired by heat dehydration. No specific problems arise from working in extreme cold but warm clothing should be provided. Pregnant workers should take great care when exposed to prolonged heat at work, for example when working near furnaces. Rest facilities and access to water would help.
What biological agents are harmful to me while pregnant?
Biological agents are known to cause abortion of the foetus, or physical and neurological damage. These agents are included in hazard groups 2, 3 and 4 of the Biological Agents Regulations 2013 and 2020. Many biological agents within these three risk groups can affect the unborn child if the mother is infected during pregnancy. Examples of agents where the child might be affected are: rubella, hepatitis B, HIV, herpes, TB, syphilis, chicken pox and typhoid. For further information see here.
What do hazard groups 2, 3 and 4 mean?
A “group 2 biological agent”is one which can cause human disease and might be a hazard to employees, although it is unlikely to spread to the community and in respect of these there is usually effective treatment available.
A “group 3 biological agent” is one which can cause severe human disease and presents a serious hazard to employees and which may present a risk of spreading to the community, though there is usually effective treatment available.
A “group 4 biological agent” is one which causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to employees and which may present a high risk of spreading to the community and in respect of which there is usually no effective treatment available.
For further information see here.
How can I avoid the risks associated with these hazard groups while pregnant?
This depends on the risk assessment, which will take account of the nature of the agent, how likely contact is and what control measures are in place. These may include physical containment, hygiene measures, or the use of available vaccines if exposure justifies this. If there is known risk of high exposure to a highly infectious agent, then the pregnant worker should avoid exposure altogether.
Is my employer responsible to carry out a risk assessment of all biological agents?
Yes, it is the duty of every employer to assess any risk to the health and safety of employees resulting from any activity in the workplace likely to involve a risk of exposure of any employee to a biological agent and to determine the nature, degree and duration of any employee’s exposure to a biological agent and to lay down the measures to be taken to ensure the safety and health of such employees.
What chemical agents are known to endanger the health of pregnant employees and their unborn children?
The following chemical agents in one or more of the hazard classes and hazard categories with one or more of the following health hazard statements can endanger the health of pregnant employees and the unborn child which can only be determined following a risk assessment of a particular substance or mixture in the workplace:
The health hazard statements mean:
I work for long periods at a display screen – is this harmful to my unborn child?
Pregnant women do not need to stop working with display screen equipment (DSE). The provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, Part 2, Chapter 4, Display Screen Equipment apply to all regular users of DSE’s.
What happens when the risk cannot be removed?
What is Health and Safety Leave?
If a risk is identified, the employer must remove the risk/adjust the work. If the employer cannot remove the risk, the employee must be provided with suitable alternative employment. If the employer cannot provide suitable alternative employment, the employee must be granted Health and Safety Leave in accordance with Section 18 of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994. During Health and Safety Leave, employers must pay employees their normal wages for the first 3 weeks, after which Health and Safety Benefit will be paid from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Telephone No. 01 7043478.
I am 6 months pregnant and my employer only carried out a risk assessment yesterday and has told me I will have to take health and safety leave today. Should the risk assessment be carried out sooner?
Once an employer is aware that an employee is pregnant, (s)he must assess the specific risks to that employee and take action to ensure that she is not exposed to anything which will damage either her health or that of her developing child.
My employer has said that I must take health and safety leave and has not provided me with alternative work even though it is there. I feel my employer is unfairly treating me because of my pregnancy – what can I do?
An employee has the right of redress to a Rights Commissioner in relation to a dispute which stems from a risk assessment and which relates to an action, which can be taken under Section 18 of the Maternity Protection Act, 1994. Such a dispute would relate to the placement on Health and Safety Leave or the suitability/availability of other work in any sense other than the control of the risk to the health and safety of the employee. Contact the Workplace Relations Commission for further information.
Where can I get information on Maternity Leave?
Maternity information can be obtained from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
Where can I get information on Maternity Benefit Payments?
For further information see here. Enquiries regarding Maternity Benefit Payments should be made to the Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Social and Family Affairs at 1890 690690 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
What role does the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have when dealing with pregnancy at work?
The HSA is responsible for enforcement of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. Employers are advised that, in producing their safety statement, they should consider the possibility of pregnancy among employees. The HSA also provides information on safety, health and welfare protection for employees who are pregnant, recently given birth, breastfeeding while working, Tel: 1890 289389. The HSA also takes complaints from employees if an employer has not undertaken a risk assessment or provided a safety statement. The HSA may intervene by advising the employer of the guidelines on implementing the Pregnancy Regulations or by a visit, verbal or written advice or the issuing of an enforcement notice on the employer.
My job consists of working in pressurised enclosures occasionally – can this affect my health while pregnant?
Pregnant workers should not work in compressed air. People who work in compressed air are at risk of developing the bends. This is due to free bubbles of gas in the circulation. It is not clear whether pregnant women are more at risk of the bends than any worker engaged in this work but such gas bubbles could seriously harm the foetus. For those who have recently given birth there is a small increase in the risk of the bends. There is no physiological reason why a breast-feeding mother should not work in compressed air.
What about diving while pregnant?
Pregnant workers are advised not to dive at all during pregnancy due to the possible effects of exposure to a hyperbaric environment on the foetus. Pregnancy is viewed as a medical reason not to dive. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Diving) Regulations 2018 and 2019 include the provision that if a diver knows of any medical reason why they should not dive, they should disclose it to the dive supervisor and/or refrain from diving. The Diving Regulations also require all divers to undertake an annual medical examination. See here for further information.
What is Safe Pass?
Safe Pass is a one day safety awareness programme aimed at construction workers. The aims of the programme are to raise the standard of safety awareness in the construction industry and that all construction workers after completing the one day awareness programme can make a positive contribution to the prevention of accidents and ill health while working on the site.
The Safe Pass programme is operated and managed by Solas.
SafePass is a general awareness programme and does not negate the duty of the employer under the Act in regards to the provision of information, instruction and training to enable the person to carry out their work safely.
Who needs to do Safe Pass awareness training?
Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 Safe Pass / Safety Awareness Programmes only applies to –
(a) Craft and general construction workers,
(b) Persons undertaking on-site security work, and
(c) Persons or classes of persons as may be prescribed by the Minister.
The Health and Safety Authority in conjunction with the Construction Advisory Committee have produced a summary guide of the categories of persons to whom Safe Pass does and does not apply.
Summary checklist for Safe Pass
|Category of personnel involved in Construction Projects||Is Safe Pass or equivalent mandatory||Category of personnel involved in Construction Projects||Is Safe Pass or equivalent mandatory|
|Craft Workers||Yes||Project Managers/Site Agents not involved in construction activities||No|
|Apprentices||Yes||Site Managers not involved in construction activities||No|
|General Construction Workers||Yes||Safety Advisor’s or Safety Officers not involved in construction work||No|
|On-site Security Workers||Yes||PSDP/PSCS||No|
|Contractors Drivers On-site||Yes||Inspectors/Consultants||No|
|Delivery Drivers On-site e.g. concrete trucks||Yes||Clients & Client Reps||No|
|Students on Placement on site||Yes|
|Delivery Drivers Not On-site e.g. delivering to compounds, canteens,offices||No||Supervised Visitors||No|
|Canteen Staff||No||Archaeologists||No (see below)|
|Site Office Staff||No||Sales Representatives||No|
|Architects, Surveyors, Engineers||No||Visitors to Show Houses||No|
Are archaeologists required to have a Safe Pass?
Strictly speaking, archaeologists are not construction workers and, as such, are not required by the Construction Regulations to have a Safe Pass. However, given that much of the work they do is in a construction type environment, it is appropriate that the employer assess the work to be undertaken on a site-specific basis. If an objective assessment shows that employees having “safe pass” would help the employer comply with his/her general duties regarding training (in accordance with Section 8 of the 2005 Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act) then the employer should give strong consideration to having workers obtain safe pass.
It should be noted that the regulations relate to minimum requirements and a Client, PSCS or a Contractor may require that all personnel entering their construction site have Safe Pass.
Where Safe Pass is not specifically required, employers should note that there is a General Duty on Employers under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 for the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety and health at work of his employees.
The Safe Pass Programme is aimed at all construction site personnel, including new entrants, to ensure that they have a basic awareness of health and safety.
Why do I need Safe Pass?
The Safe Pass Programme is necessary to make workers aware of the dangers on construction sites so that they will not be a danger to themselves or their co-workers.
Who pays for the Safe Pass course
Generally the employer pays for the Safe Pass course. The employer under section 10,25 & 26 of Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act, 2005 is responsible to allow employees time off from their duties for awareness training as may be reasonable having regard to their health and safety without loss of remuneration.
Where can I find Safe Pass trainers?
Contact us today to enquire about dates and locations
When do I need to renew my Safe Pass training?
Safe Pass awareness training should be renewed every 4 years.
Do students and seasonal workers need Safe Pass before working on a Construction site? If so who should pay?
Yes the Safe Pass Programme is aimed at all who work on a construction site, including new entrants. If a student wants to apply for a job on a construction site for seasonal work they must have the Safe Pass Card. In this instance they would have to pay for it themselves before they are employed.
Can new workers work on site to build up the 6 months experience required for FAS CSCS entry?
New entrants to SOLAS CSCS must complete an initial training programme and are given a log book and New Entrant Card which is red in colour. New entrants must complete a minimum of 6 months training under supervision and maintain a logbook (detailing experience) before completing a final assessment for their CSCS card.
Public Health general advice on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illness October 22nd 2021 link to guidance i.e.
The Government is leading the response in Ireland to this national public health risk and providing up to date information and advice at www.gov.ie. Key documents are:
The Work Safely Protocol is the 3rd revision of the Return to Work Safely Protocol first published in May 2020. It is a general document that applies to all work sectors. The Protocol incorporates the current advice on Public Health measures needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community and workplaces. It sets out the minimum measures required to facilitate the re-opening of workplaces following temporary closures, and the ongoing safe operation of those workplaces. The latest technical updates include the inclusion of new symptoms associated with the Delta variant of COVID-19 and additional information on ventilation, and vaccinations.
On the 31st August 2021 the Government published Reframing the Challenge, Continuing Our Recovery and Reconnecting. This plan sets out the easing of public health restrictions, in particular during September and October. Returning to the workplace can commence on a phased and cautious attendance basis. Where possible, employees should continue to work from home. See LEEF Guidance Note 7th Sept.
To support preparing for the return to the workplace, additional checklists covering return to the office, ventilation and antigen testing are available.
NOTE: While every effort is made to keep the information and advice contained on these webpages current, business owners / employers / employees need to adhere to the specific Government requirements and Public Health advice, published on gov.ie. This includes the Work Safely Protocol and Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting plan. As outlined in this latest plan, from 22 October 2021, the Government has removed the remaining statutory restrictions. This will mark an important point in how Ireland has managed the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on employers, workers and workplaces.
What is Bullying?
Bullying in the workplace has been described in various ways. The Health and Safety Authority’s definition is that it is:
“repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to dignity at work.”
An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.
Detailed information is given in the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work 2021
Examples of behaviour that may constitute bullying are as follows:
Bullying is a workplace issue and a human relations issue. Therefore it comes under the authority of various agencies and is on the agenda of many interested parties. It is a health and safety issue in so far as bullying has been identified as hazardous or dangerous as it can lead to both safety problems and health problems. It is also an IR issue, a HR issue, often a legal issue and a personal and public health issue. So many agencies and interested parties are stakeholders in this difficult area.
Employers have a Duty of Care to all employees, to ensure they are both mentally and physically safe at work and that their health is not adversely affected by work. This Duty of Care means employers must behave and react reasonably in relation to such matters.
The role of the Health and Safety Authority is:
Therefore the HSA makes sure that the system of work is not one where bullying is facilitated or tolerated. Where bullying is identified (through a legitimate complaint) employers should have a proper system to deal with bullying complaints, and act reasonably in implementing that system. The HSA can assess this system and make recommendations, and where required, use powers of enforcement to ensure the system is reasonable and the management of bullying does not represent a risk to the employee’s health and/or safety.
A template for doing this and an outline of proper procedures both informal and formal can be found in our Code of Practice on the Prevention and Management of Workplace Bullying (see link above).
Employees have both rights and responsibilities. Employees have a duty to their colleagues not to bully them, and have rights if they are accused of bullying, which must also be defended. This is where bullying departs from other hazards at work, as people who are accused have employment rights which mean that they cannot simply be removed if they are harming others, but the issue must be progressed fairly and transparently so that everybody’s rights are simultaneously met.
Where a bullying culture has been identified, (through a number of complaints being received, for instance) employers must take reasonable measures to prevent incidents of bullying occurring (through awareness raising and training as well as reacting speedily to resolve issues early/progress investigations and/or initiate control measures). When and if they bullying occurs, employers should prevent the risk of injury to the health of employees worsening by providing and implementing support and assistance throughout the process, and reviewing and monitoring the environment afterwards, as far as is reasonable..
Managers and supervisors have a particular responsibility to promote dignity in the workplace for all. They should be alert to the possibility of bullying behaviour and be familiar with the policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of bullying. Their behaviour may be modelled by others, as it may be considered acceptable. That’s why managers, supervisors and those in authority should be aware of their own behaviour at work and not engage in improper conduct in any form.
This section is aimed at larger enterprises with a well-defined management structure, where occupational safety and health management can be integrated into the general management system of the company. In particular, it is aimed at those who control the activities of the business e.g. the executive directors, boards of directors, other boards of management and senior management controlling bodies in workplaces, all senior managers who discharge responsibilities for occupational safety and health, and safety and health professionals. Smaller companies with a less formal management structure can use the information in these pages as appropriate to their needs. Safety Representatives should also find it helpful.
There are sound economic reasons for reducing work-related accidents and ill-health, as well as ethical and regulatory reasons.
Besides reducing costs, effective safety and health management promotes business efficiency. Thousands of work-related accidents, resulting in more than three days off work are reported to the Health and Safety Authority each year. Work-related diseases and ill-health are more difficult to measure due to their long latency period but result in excess of one million days lost at work each year. These accident and ill-health cases are due to failures and deficiencies in the occupational safety and health management in organisations.Legal Reasons
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) requires all duty holders to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of workers and members of the public and to manage and conduct all work activities in such a way as to ensure their safety, health and welfare. This requires all who have this legal responsibility to be proactive in managing their safety, health and welfare responsibilities and deal with them in a systematic way. This section should help organisations to improve their safety and health performance by providing advice on how safety and health should be managed, and in the process help them to comply with their legal requirements.
The proactive management of safety and health in the workplace helps organisations prevent injuries and ill-health at work. This guidance should help organisations reduce the personal loss caused as a result of accidents and ill-health at work.
The Workplace Health and Safety Management Guidance aims to give practical advice and recommendations on developing an occupational safety, health and welfare management system for larger workplaces, with an already well defined management structure, which maybe at one or more locations. The words ‘safety and health’ are used throughout the document for conciseness and are intended to cover the safety, health and welfare of employees and others at work due to work activities.
Apart from checking the safety statement, the Authority inspectors are also seeking to find out, the extent to which employers, directors and senior managers are aware of their safety and health responsibilities. Inspectors are asking the person in charge in the workplace at the time of the inspection, some key questions about the extent of their knowledge on their responsibilities and how they are implementing them i.e. how are they ensuring they will not be subject to a Section 80 offence.
During an inspection the HSA Inspector endeavours to meet the most senior person in charge in the workplace and outlines the nature of the inspection. The Inspector will also seek to meet the Safety and Health Manager/Adviser and the Safety Representative, where they are in place. Following the formal introductions the inspection will firstly review relevant safety and health documentation including the Safety Statement and/or the safety and health plan as appropriate.
A workplace inspection follows a sampling approach, covering the key risks as identified in the Safety Statement and other safety and health documentation. The Inspector needs to establish the adequacy of the control measures in place for these risks.
Awareness and implementation of senior managers’ responsibilities is judged by Inspectors based on compliance with the advice given in the Authority publications and guidance. The extent to which the guidance is used is determined by:
The view an Inspector may form as to the extent of management compliance with their duties under the 2005 Act and other relevant legislation, will primarily come from the examination of the Safety Statement and the assessment of the extent to which it is being implemented on the ground. The response the Inspector receives to the safety and health management questions posed will confirm their assessment.
The Inspectors questioning will be tailored to suit the size and complexity of the organisation and the prevailing workplace circumstances. The questions will also be tailored to apply to the person being interviewed, the level of the organisation they are at and what health and safety responsibilities they have. The Inspector will need answers to questions covering the key aspects of workplace safety and health management e.g. on how adequate the safety and health organisation is in the company and the extent of safety and health monitoring and auditing being carried out by the company to ensure it complies with the 2005 Act and other relevant legislation which may apply.
For road side inspections e.g. under the ADR Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road or for Work Related Transport road inspections, the driver of the vehicle is required to have the appropriate documentation on the vehicle or be able to refer to where the documentation is available back at the vehicle’s base. As above, any written reports, fixed penalty or other enforcement notices will be given to the driver and copied to the duty holder’s registered office. Following such a road side inspection, a follow up inspection may need to be carried out at the depot/base where the truck or vehicle came from and senior managers at that base may need to be interviewed.
A close out meeting is normally held with the most senior person in charge on the day, preferably the MD/CEO, Company Director or other responsible senior manager in order to give a verbal or written report of the inspection. The Inspector may also need to explain and serve Enforcement Notices on the employer or other duty holder. At this meeting the Inspector also reviews with the senior manager his/her level of awareness of legal responsibilities under the 2005 Act and the level of their implementation of these responsibilities.