Research was carried using the wealth of information available from the Health and Safety Authority (HAS), and this was used, with real life examples to highlight the Importance of carefully managed health and safety systems at the workplace. The report shows how imperative it is for employers not to be negligent in this area of the business, due to the many penalties that can be enforced by the HAS, and also being biblically exposed by them as being convicted for health and safety breaches. In today’s market, companies cannot afford such negative attention.
Table of Contents Chapter 1 – Introduction The subject of Industry Structure and Regulatory Issues covers both internal and external regulatory issues concerning: Human Resource Management, Health and Safety, Quality Management Systems and Environmental Management Systems. Here, we focus on Health and Safety, and mainly The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and its Importance In the workplace today. This legislation Impacts on so many – employers, employees, safety managers, safety representatives, the self- employed, designers, suppliers, customers etc.
There are very clear guidelines laid out by current legislation, with which all companies and parties must be compliant – failing that, severe penalties may be applied. The report details the roles and responsibility of the relevant parties, In order for them to remain compliant. We have arrived at the Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Chapter 2 – Legislation 2. 1 History Health and Safety Legislation has evolved the past couple of hundred of years. There were firstly some Legislative Acts, which focused on specific work environments, from 1950 – 1960.
The names of the Acts identify these environments. It is worth noting that there were many amendments made to these over the years following their introduction. The Factory Acts date as far back as 1802, but 1961 saw the installation of the 1937 and 1959 Factory Acts, focusing on potentially dangerous factory work practices. The Mines and Quarries Acts of 1965 covered such issues as explosives, electricity, and fire and rescue. The Docks Regulations addressed ships and boats, embarking and disembarking, and loading and unloading etc.
The Construction / Building Regulations covered health and safety practices on building sites etc. There was the 1980 Safety in Industry Act, which was a fresh take on factory health and safety at work. And in Dublin, in 1981, a very well known disaster occurred in the Stardust club, in Aerate. A fire broke out in the club killing and injuring many patrons, due to a very poor evacuation structure, and gross negligence. The Fire Services Act was created, with codes of practice for managing fire safety in places of Assembly.
In 1989 the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act was born – this saw the introduction of the Health And Safety Authority (HAS). This is a state-sponsored body, which reports to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. There were amendments made to the act in 1993, but on 1st September 2005 the act replaced the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989. This now set out the provisions for security and improving the health, safety and welfare of all people at work. 2. The Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 Mr. Tony Killeen AD , Minister for Labor Affairs has said “The primary focus of this Act is on the prevention of deaths and injuries in the workplace. Safety is paramount. This Act is a serious wake-up call to employers, who don’t do enough to prevent accidents at their places of employment. Workers also have a duty not to endanger themselves or others and to be alert to dangerous situations” (wry. Has. IEEE) This new legislation takes a preventative approach to reducing accidents and risk of anger at the workplace.
It also introduced changes in relation to risk assessment and company safety statements, and deals with the use of intoxicants, the medical fitness of employees, penalties for negligence and also ‘on the spot fines’. The Act covers all Workers, Workplaces, Visitors and Passers By and, as stated previously, the responsibility is placed on employers, employees, safety managers/reps, equipment, systems of work and articles for use at work (Materials/Tools/Chemicals) are all safe, and have no risk to the health of employees and visitors etc.
For example, al ladders in a retail stockroom must be safe and have no broken steps; all chemicals used in a printing factory music be stores safely and labeled correctly; a company car of a sales rep must not have a cracked windscreen and be driven, and the hot water tap in a communal toilet must not pump out water that is near boiling. The list goes Chapter 3 – Employer Duties Employers and the Self-Employed are the main people responsible for the creation and maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment. Some of their duties are as follows: Manage and conduct all work activities and prevent and improper conduct e. . Woo printers operating a machine arm wrestling on the floor. Bullying could also fall under this category, and is a very serious health risk to employees (stress at work). Design, provide and maintain a safe working environment, ensuring safe access (entry) and egress (exit), and use of plant and equipment that is safe. Prevention of risks from using any articles, materials or machinery e. G. Exposure to physical agents, noise, radiation etc. Plan, organize and consistently maintain safe systems of work. Provide and maintain welfare facilities for employees in the workplace e. . Brown Thomas in provide a free company doctor two days a week. Note: this benefits the company as well, where they believe an employees long-term sickness not to be genuine – they get a ‘second opinion’ in this case. Provide information, and training regarding health and safety to all employees in a language they will understand I. E. Lay man terms – it should be uncomplicated language. For example, Ireland is so multi cultural now that the delivery of such information will differ greatly to that often years ago. Consult with their employees on matters of Health and Safety.
Provide protective clothing where necessary and no cost to the employee e. G. Retroactive work boots for warehouse operatives; ear protection for factory workers; protective gloves to stockroom workers in a retail loading bay. Appoint one or more Safety Representative (See Chapter 5), who will advise the employer regarding compliance with health and safety legislation. Ensure their own safety and ensure they are not putting any other people at risk within the workplace e. G. Contracted painters, window cleaner or gas meter reader from Bored Gals. Report all (reportable) accidents and dangerous occurrences to the HAS.
Work with the Safety Representative on implementing the Safety Management Programmer (See 3. ) Risk Assess (See 3. 2) every aspect of the business / workplace and produce the company Safety Statement (See 3. 3). 3. 1 Safety Management Programmer Some of the elements of the Safety Management Programmer are as follows: Carry out an audit of hazards. Produce the Safety Statement Post notices in the workplace – these could be in relation to hygiene e. G. When Swine hands etc. Also, fire evacuation procedures and assembly point details are published and posted on notice boards.
Install fire fighting equipment and emergency equipment and have this equipment audited as per regulations. Appoint Fire Officers ND Fire Marshals/Assembly Officers. Carry out regular fire and evacuation drills, and record all details in the company safety book. Develop a training programmer for all staff regarding health and safety, and ensure all staff receive training. 3. 2 Risk Assessment Risk Assessments are carried before the Safety Statement is written – it is where the employer identifies potential hazards and assesses risks that may be present at the workplace.
These would cover routine AND non-routine operations. The steps for risk assessing are as follows: 1. Identify the hazards. These could be any of the following: Slips, Trips, Falls Manual Handling Fire and Explosion Exposure to Radiation Unsuitable lighting levels in the workroom Human Factory e. G. Bullying, Intimidation, Stress etc. 2. Assess the risk – what is the likelihood of it happening, and how severe would the consequences be? Categories the risks (high / medium / low), and priorities the measures to ensure safety. 3.
Select the control measures to abolish hazards, and where this is not possible, to REDUCE the risks. 4. Write the Safety Statement!! 5. Record and Review – Health and Safety is an organic (not static) system, which requires constant revisiting, as legislation changes, as Jobs requirements change; or reaps, when new equipment or substances are introduced into the company. See Appendix A for an example of a risk assessment. 3. 3 Safety Statement The safety statement is a form of mission statement for the respective company. The basis for the management of health and safety IS the written safety statement.
It sets out an action programmer for safeguarding safety, health and welfare of all employees while at work. It must: List control measures to be taken to avoid/minimize risk. Name those responsible for implementing and maintaining these measures. Contain plans to deal with accidents and emergencies e. G. Fire, Bomb etc. List the names of the safety representatives, and safety advisory team. List location and description of the premises – access and egress. Description of work carried out; equipment and plant, and hazards. Health and Welfare info, Medical issues, First Aid, Smoking policies.
Fire protection and prevention – evacuation procedures and assembly. Emergency lighting locations, and testing procedures. Details on meetings after hours. The safety statement must be reviewed and amended where necessary, should there safety statement is no longer valid. This would usually be the case after an accident or “near miss”. Also, if directed by an Inspector, the safety statement must be reviewed within 30 days. Employers are required to make all employees aware of the safety statement; again, in a manner and language that is understood by all.
It should be done upon recruitment, during the induction process, and also when there is any amendment made to the statement. Many companies have a safety statement attached to notice boards, for example, in a staffroom. In larger companies, however, the safety statement could be over 2000 pages – what would be posted in communal areas would be health and safety guidelines, perhaps generic publications provided by the HAS. 3. 4 Documents and Notices There are certain documents and notices that the employer draw up or have on file in relation the Safety Statement.
These are: Checklists for dealing with bomb threats, which perhaps the receptionist would need special training on, in an office situation. Instructions for Fire Officers on all issues pertaining to fire procedures and evacuation. Instructions for assembly officer on all issues pertaining to egress and assembly in the event of an emergency. Fire Safety Rules and Fire Action Notice. Training records – there would be a master copy and possibly a record in all staff files on training given. Assembly and Fire Drill records – there must be a record of all evacuation drills, in case of a Health and Safety Audit.
This is also why it is imperative for employers to carry out these drills. Assembly Point Location – this should be posted up everywhere there is a fire extinguisher and also on staff motherboards. Floor Plans of the business. Chapter 4 – Employee / Worker Duties Employees have far less responsibility for health and safety than their employers’, but they do have duties under the Act: Be compliant with relevant laws, protecting their own safety and the safety of their colleagues and other affected by their acts or missions while at work.
They must not be under the influence of any intoxicant (drugs or alcohol), to the extent that may endanger themselves or others at work, and also refrain from any act or misconduct that will cause danger. Co-operate with their employer and others in meeting the requirements of the Act. Participate in health and safety training offered by the employer – this would be recorded in their employee live file. Use the equipment, machinery, tools or substances provided in a safe manner; and use any protective clothing or equipment provided by the employer. Report any defects or possible hazards to their employer immediately e. . A leaking pipe, or a faulty ladder. These both have potential to cause harm to workers. Chapter 5 – Safety Representative The role of the safety representative is as follows: They must make representations to the employer regarding safety, welfare and investigate accidents and dangerous occurrences; provided an Inspector is not already doing so and to do so would interfere in the investigation. But they must accompany Inspectors on a regular inspection tour. They must make representations o, and receive information from Inspectors, either through meeting, talking or in written form.
They must carry out assessment audits and investigate potential hazards. They must be given the required time off work for training, with full pay, and also to discharge any duties, perhaps following an investigation. The must investigate any complaints made by employees, after giving reasonable notice to employers. They must not be placed at any personal advantage, as a result of their status as Safety Representative. Chapter 6 – Other People With Duties There are other people who must also comply with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
These are Manufacturers, Importers, Suppliers and Designers. These must ensure safety and health concerning the use of materials that they produce, develop and/or supply. Their product must be fit for use, and must have information provided on the how to use their product / substance / equipment / machinery etc. Correctly. An example could be assembly instructions for warehouse racking. Also, for example, on a liquid fire extinguisher, there must be the correct information of how to use it, and also what fire to use it on – or the results would be disastrous.
Also, an importer f electrical goods, for example a kettle which is bought and used in an office staffroom in Ireland, music not be importing a two pronged plug – this is a major health and safety risk for those plugging it in. The list of examples could be infinite – but it Just shows, how wide the span of responsibility is. Chapter 7- Enforcement Of Penalties “The new Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act 2005 is a dynamic and modern piece of legislation which is very timely.
The increase in fines and penalties is welcome as I believe strongly that the level of fines and penalties should reflect the gravity which society attaches to breaches of the law, particularly those which result in death or injury’ Tom Began, HAS Chief Executive (wry. Has. IEEE) There is a wide range of enforcement powers used by HAS Inspectors, for those in breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and they vary greatly depending on the severity of the breach. An improvement plan may requested by an Inspector, which would need to be submitted within one month, and this would outline any remedial action for a specific risk.
An Improvement Notice may be served, which will give the employer a fixed period of time to remedy the issue, or a e ceased. Fines may also be imposed, as well as prison sentences – again, depending on the severity of the Rick or accident. The maximum penalty for breach of this Act is в?3,000,000 and/or up to 2 years in prison. But “On the Spot” may also be imposed by the HAS, of up to в?1 ,OHO for breaches in certain circumstances. An employer’s reputation could also be greatly tarnished, if found in breach, as the 2005 Act also allows the publishing of lists of employers who have been convicted.
Also, as a result of the Act, Directors, Officers and ‘other managers’ can now be held accountable for these breaches. Chapter 8 – Conclusion It is very clear to see there are huge responsibilities placed on employers with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and good to see that employees have their part to play also. Health and Safety is something that could potentially be taken for granted, but luckily, there are such strict controls in place to ensure the highest level of health and safety is maintained.
Some companies would most definitely be negligent in areas of safety, and unfortunately due to accidents in the work place, they learn the hard way – possibly through prosecution. There are many potential hazards in the work place on a daily basis, and the employer relies greatly on his managers and staff to raise the alarm on such issues, or resolved it on the spot – something as simply as spilled water, could be potentially very dangerous on the floor of a retail store, for both staff and customers.
There is also a lot of insurance fraud and exaggerated claims, as a result of such slips or trips, and in today’s market, businesses cannot afford to be paying large sums of money out to the victims. This is why the guidelines in this Act, although may seem tedious, are very necessary for businesses to operate efficiently, and safely and this is why a Safety Statement is s paramount as the company’s Mission Statement.
Chapter 9 – Recommendation Some could argue that, as there is so much information to consume with this Act, and so many controls to have in place, to be compliant; that it could actually infringe on productivity. This is quite a plausible case, but nevertheless, Safety, Welfare and Health are a must for companies. Larger firms would have a very senior Safety Representative who would tackle the larger issues and implementation of new controls and initiatives; but health and safety has to be a priority from the ground up, which means everybody has their part accessibility to ensure compliance.
A lot of what is highlighted in the many requirements of employers and employees, is most definitely ‘best practice’ but every employer should efficiently risk assess potential hazards to avoid accidents and near misses, and or if it’s not possible to completely prevent risk, it must be minimizes as much as possible. The HAS provide companies with so much up to date information, for example, the codes of practice that they publish, and also provide an office-hours information service, that there is really very little excuse for employers to neglect basic safety in he workplace – and put themselves and their employees and patrons as risk.