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Health and Safety Authority Publishes Annual Report and Statistics Summary

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The Health and Safety Authority has today (Tuesday 29 July) published its 2013 Annual Report and Statistics Summary. The Annual Report gives a detailed account of the Authority’s activities in 2013 and the Statistics Summary, which has been produced in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute, provides a study on trends in occupational injuries, illnesses and fatalities for 2012 - 2013.

The key themes for the Authority in 2013 were; improving safety in Agriculture, the prevention of any slippage in construction safety standards, ensuring small businesses can easily understand and comply with their legal obligations and, in relation to chemicals, ensuring that chemical hazards are correctly identified and risks properly controlled.

Activities in the Agriculture sector combined promotional work, at events like the National Ploughing Championships, with influencing farmers through the Farm Safety Partnership. There was also an inspection campaign resulting in 2,906 Agriculture inspections and 61 investigations of accidents and complaints. Written advice was given 38% of these and enforcement action taken in 10%.

During 2013 the Authority published construction guidance for homeowners and contractors and concentrated on working at heights and the safe use of ladders. There were 3,205 construction site inspections along with 417 investigations of accidents and complaints. Written advice was given in 35% of cases and enforcement action taken in 6%.

The Authority continued to provide assistance to small business and by the end of 2013, there were 7,045 new users of the free online safety tool, BeSMART.ie, bringing the total number of users to 17,813. Also, in collaboration with the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation and 20 other state agencies, the Authority ran an event for small businesses in Dublin castle with over 500 attendees.

In relation to chemicals, the Authority ensured that Irish stakeholders were supported, for example, through a helpdesk and conferences. There were 1,300 Chemicals inspections/investigations carried out with written advice given in 70% of these.

Figures from the Annual Report show that 12,244 inspections/investigations were carried out across all sectors during 2013. Written advice was given as the result of 42% of these and enforcement action was taken in 8% of cases.

Some of the other key sectors targeted for compliance were;

  • Wholesale/Retail with 1,273 inspections, 157 investigations, 53% written advice & 11% enforcement action taken;
  • Manufacturing with 1,323 inspections/investigations, 53% written advice & 9% enforcement action taken;
  • Chemicals with 1,300 inspections/investigations, 70% written advice given.

There were 28 prosecutions concluded for serious safety and health breaches in 2013, with fines totalling €2.1million imposed.

Speaking about the importance of workplace health and safety, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, said: “Every workplace fatality is avoidable and represents a terrible tragedy for a family and a community. Combatting workplace fatalities and injuries represents a huge challenge for both the Health and Safety Authority and employers.

“The HSA has delivered on its 2013 programme of work and continues to make a significant difference to the welfare of our workforce. While we are determined to create an environment where more and more jobs are being created, this cannot be at any expense whatsoever of health and safety standards. Increasingly, employers recognise that a safe and healthy workforce is a key part of their competitive advantage, and are keen to work with Government to promote high standards. For its part, the HSA adopts a risk-based approach where possible. For most businesses all it takes is some simple steps and forward thinking to avoid the vast majority of accidents in the workplace. I wish to commend Martin O’Halloran, the Staff and Board of the Authority on the continued quality and volume of their work, and wish them every success in the coming years”.

Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority says that the Authority uses a combination of enforcement and prevention activities, such as awareness raising campaigns, to maximise impact and reduce injuries and deaths in the workplace: “We try to use our resources in a way that has maximum effect while achieving a positive outcome for workers and employers. Enforcement is an important part of the work we do, but we must also use awareness-raising and information campaigns to complement inspection activity. Last year we targeted farming, vehicles, safety in small businesses, amongst others, and hopefully this approach will have a long-term positive effect on occupational safety and health”.

Continuing on the theme of long-term strategic goals, Michael Horgan, Chairman of the Authority said: “We have been running programmes aimed at young people still in education, especially children from Agricultural and Fishing communities. They are the workers of tomorrow and also have an underrated influence on their parents. Our mission is clear, we want to create a culture of safety that benefits all. It’s in nobody’s interest to facilitate a culture where accidents are seen as part and parcel of the job, everyone is entitled to go to work and come home safe and sound. Everyone benefits from a safe and healthy workplace – the business and the workers”.

Some of the key points of the Statistics Summary also published today are;

  • There were 47 fatal workplace accidents report in 2013, compared to 48 in 2012.
  • The most hazardous sectors continue to be Agriculture, Fishing & Construction.
  • There were 6,598 non-fatal injuries reported in 2013, compared to 6,804 in 2012.
  • The main causes of non-fatal accidents were manual handling (33%) & slips, trips and falls 18%.
  • The sectors with the highest occupational injury rate, per 1,000 workers are;
    - Construction (16.7);
    - Health & Social Work (15.9) &
    - Agriculture (14.2).
  • The sectors with the highest occupational illness rate, per 1,000 workers are; Agriculture (47); Information/Communication (41) & Education (37)

Copies of both reports can be downloaded from www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/