Health & safety is required by law

“Over the top” health & safety culture is often a target for ridicule. Be that as it may, the plain truth is that the law requires employers to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of their employees while they are at work.

My business is not hazardous, why bother with health & safety?

An effective health & safety policy can impact your bottom line so it is in every business’s interest to comply with health & safety law.

A laissez-faire attitude to health & safety increases the risk of:

  • Injury, disease, harm, and fatalities in extreme circumstances.
  • Absences, poor morale, high staff turnover.
  • Financial loss.
  • Reputational damage.
  • Prohibition/improvement notices or prosecution by the Health and Safety Authority.

If your business puts robust health & safety policies into practice, you reduce your business’s exposure to the costs of ill-health, accidents, legal fees, and higher insurance premiums.

Another question you might ask is why increase your business’s exposure to these avoidable risks?

Health & safety legislation

Primary legislation

There are over 200 acts and statutory instruments that make up Irish health & safety law, the principal piece of legislation being the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 (SHWA).

While not always thought of by employers as a health & safety law, the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 which sets out employees’ entitlements to paid annual leave, rest breaks and daily and weekly rest periods, is also a primary piece of health & safety legislation.

Regulations

There are numerous regulations that apply to various workplaces which set out further details on the extent of the regulatory requirements under the SHWA. The Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 2007 to 2016 contain provisions which apply to the vast majority of workplaces in Ireland.

Codes of Practice

More specific workplace health & safety issues are covered by a number of Codes of Practice which address issues in a variety of sectors such as construction, forestry, chemical, agriculture, and dock work.

The Health and Safety Authority

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the body with overall responsibility for the administration and enforcement of health & safety at work in Ireland.

The remit of the HSA includes monitoring compliance with the health & safety legislation (including prosecutions). The compliance aspect of the HSA’s role is carried out by a team of Environmental Health Officers who may instruct the Gardaí or other authorized personnel to exercise powers of entry to inspect workplaces and if necessary take enforcement action by securing court orders and improvement or prohibition notices.

Inspections and investigations

In its most recent annual report, the HSA set out details of almost 10,000 inspections and investigations which took place during the course of 2017. There were almost 2,000 carried out in the agriculture sector (including forestry and fishing), over 4,400 in the construction sector and over 1,300 inspections and audits were conducted under the chemical legislation.

Improvement and prohibition notices

From these inspections and investigations, 512 improvement notices and 547 prohibition notices were issued to rectify serious breaches of health and safety law.

Fines imposed

 21 prosecutions were successfully concluded resulting in total fines imposed of €2,695,500 compared with €614,000 in 2016.

Chemical checks

The HSA also completed 400 market surveillance checks on chemical products on the Irish market, 200 of which were on detergents and 22 of which were on budget jewelry.

HSA increasing vigilance

As an employer, you will note the high number of workplace HSA inspections, the high volume of improvement and prohibition notices issued and the increase in the level of fines being levied on employers on foot of health & safety prosecutions. The details of the most recent HSA annual report demonstrate the risks associated with failing to maintain robust health & safety systems in the workplace.

Health & safety compliance  

As you can see, failing to get health & safety right puts your business at considerable risk. Your business is likely to face an ever-expanding set of health & safety compliance requirements as your business grows. To have all the bases covered, your business should have the following in place at a minimum:

  • A clearly defined health & safety policy which includes relevant procedures and allocation of responsibilities.
  • A bespoke risk assessment of your workplace.
  • Regular health & safety management reviews.
  • Relevant health & safety training.

Protect your employees and your business with BusinessSafe

The good news is that Peninsula has the expertise to take care of the full range of health & safety compliance for you. Our experts cover issues like policy and procedures, arrangements and records, legislative updates, risk assessments, and employee training. Everything you need basically to ensure your employees and business remains safe and sound.

As a BusinessSafe client, you will receive access to the following health & safety products and services:

Health & safety policy, procedures, and responsibilities

  • Health & safety general policy statement.
  • Organizational structure.
  • Management responsibilities.
  • Individual responsibilities and monitoring.
  • Monitoring procedures.

Risk assessments

  • General working environment.
  • Hazardous substances.
  • Process-related fire risks.
  • Display screen equipment.
  • Manual handling.
  • New and expectant mothers.
  • Young persons.
  • Premises fire risk.

Health & safety management review

A review of your business measured against current health & safety legislation and accepted the best practice. An in-depth analysis of an organization’s work activities and documentation.

This includes interviews with key members of staff, measured against current health & safety legislation and accepted the best practice.

SafeCheck review

A one-off, premises-based review to assess an organization’s operational practices to determine

the level of compliance with health & safety requirements. A detailed report is then presented

indicating compliance and improvement areas, within a user-friendly action plan.

24-hour health & safety advice

Extend access to the 24-hour advice service to your managers; a confidential report of all requests for advice and information is available helping you to monitor performance.

Insurance

A policy to protect you against legal expenses incurred as part of health & safety enforcement action. 

Legal representation

A solicitor to attend interviews under caution and advise and represent you in connection

with any food or health & safety prosecutions or enforcement action; appeals against

Improvement and Prohibition Notices.

Safety arrangements (examples include) 

  • Risk assessments.
  • Hazard reporting.
  • Workplace consultation.
  • Accident reporting and investigation.
  • New and expectant mothers.
  • Employing young people.
  • Lone working.
  • First aid.
  • Contractor control.
  • Electrical safety.
  • Chemical substances and agents. 

Health & safety training

A range of training courses to give managers and staff the knowledge they need in support of

health & safety compliance. We offer both bespoke training and training accredited by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in Northern Ireland.

Summary  

As you can see, health & safety compliance is, in fact, no laughing matter. While the scale of health & safety compliance requirements can seem overwhelming, we believe our expertise can set your mind at ease and let you focus on your top priority, growing your business.

Book your Health & Safety Assessment now by calling Peninsula at 1890 252 923