Workplace Safety: The Most Frequently Asked Questions

Workplace Safety: The Most Frequently Asked Questions

As Ireland’s go-to provider of workplace safety training and consultancy, our experience and expertise is unrivalled. Over the past 30 years, we have supported our clients with best-in-class solutions, whether it’s advice from our consultancy team, training from our academy or people placement through our staffing solutions. In this month’s blog, we want to share some of that expertise with you, as we look at the most frequently asked questions we encounter. 


What’s the difference between a risk assessment and a Safety Statement?

A Safety Statement is a document that sets out an employer’s commitment to health and safety in their workplace, and how they are going to maintain this. A Safety statement should include the results of risk assessments, the company health and safety policy, the details (names and job titles) of those who are responsible for any health and safety matters, training records, and accident reporting procedures. To find out more about Safety Statements, click here

A risk assessment is a document that contains a three-step process:

  1. Identifying the hazards in the workplace that are under your control.
  2. Assessing any risks that are present as a result of these hazards.
  3. Putting measures in place to reduce the risk of these hazards causing harm.

Your Safety Statement, including Risk Assessments, should be brought to the attention of all employees in the workplace that may be exposed to any risks.


Who appoints the safety representative in an organisation, and how many should one have?

A Safety Representative is an employee who is elected by their fellow employees, whose main role is to represent them to management on all health and safety issues (Source).  

Section 25 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 entitles employees to decide on who their Safety Representative is and by agreement with their employer, how many they have. The number of Representatives should be proportionate to the size of the workplace, and should ensure that diverse work activities, departments, or specialised occupations are represented. 

On Construction Sites where there are more than twenty persons employed at any one time on the site, the project supervisor for the construction stage (PSCS) should facilitate the appointment of the Safety Representative(s). 

The Safety Representative has the right to inspect the whole or part of the workplace that they represent, investigate accidents and may make written or verbal representations to the HSA Inspectors – however they must not interfere with the scene of an accident. 

Employers have a duty to ensure that Safety Representatives understand their roles, and are allowed time for training without a loss of earnings. 


How many first-aiders do I need in the workplace?

This depends on the number of employees in the workplace and the industry you work in. The HSA recommends:

Type of WorkplaceMaximum No. of

Employees at any one time

No. of Occupational

First Aiders

Factories, Construction Sites, Surface Mines and Quarriesup to 491 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
50-149Minimum 1
150-299Minimum 2
> 3001 extra for every 150 employees or

part thereof

Underground Mines 1 for every 10 employees

or part thereof

Other workplaces


up to 991 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
more than 7001 extra for every 300 employees or part thereof.


Employers must also provide first-aid equipment at all places of work where conditions require it and, apart from some exceptions, a first-aid room must be provided where appropriate. 


What are the most common causes of workplace accidents?

The top five triggers of non-fatal accidents reported to the Health & Safety Authority in 2021 were:

  1. The single most common trigger was manual handling (2,656, 32%) 
  2. Slipping or falling was the second most common cause of injury (2007, 24%)
  3. The third most common cause was the loss of control of an object, machine, or vehicle (931, 11%) followed by
  4. Aggression, shock, or violence (599, 7%) with
  5. Body movement leading to an external injury such as a cut or bruise closing out the top 5 (548, 6%).

According to the 2022 figures from the HSA, the leading causes of death in workplaces were falls from height, and the loss of control of a vehicle or its attachments. 


Do employers have an obligation to ensure the mental well-being of employees?

According to the Employment Equality Act (2015), employers are obliged to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, including mental and emotional wellbeing. Mental health involves the emotional, psychological, and social condition of a person and poor mental health can cause issues for both the employee and the business overall.

Psychosocial hazards, or the “hidden workplace” are the aspects of work that can affect workers’ emotions, behaviours and neuro-hormonal reactions. Employers have a responsibility to manage the known Psychosocial Hazards in their workplace, which may include bullying, conflicting demands, lone working, shift working or job insecurity. To find out more about Psychosocial Hazards in the workplace, you can read our in-depth blog here


Do the same health and safety regulations apply to remote workers as to on-site workers?

Yes, if an employee is working from home, then the home is a workplace. It’s your responsibility as an employer to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all employees, whether they are working remotely, on site or off site in accordance with the remote working guidance documents from the HSA. Employers must provide a safe working environment for their employees, and in doing so will need to assess the risks and ensure appropriate controls are in place to safeguard workers. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Guidance on Remote Working provides guidance for employers and employees. 


The scenarios listed above are by no means exhaustive, and it’s important to note that every situation, workplace and activity will carry its own unique risks. 


At Ayrton, our consultancy team has considerable experience in the assessment and management of hazards across all types of workplaces. You can speak to a member of our team today to discuss your business’ needs. Contact us here to find out more. 


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