Irish Health and Safety Law

Before 1989 Ireland had very little laws in place for the safety and health of the people at work. Any law that was in place for this was in place for factory and mine workers only. In 1989 a new act was implemented by the Irish Government to cover all people performing any type of work, this was called The Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act. This Act was then replaced by a newer edition in 2005. My assignment will outline the laws stated in both acts. In 1989 an Act was brought into Irish legislation called the Health and Safety and Welfare at Work Act. It was created to cover all people who carried out ‘work’.

Employers, employees in all places of work and to the self employed. As stated in the 1989 Act a place of work was ‘any, or any part of any, place, land or other location at, in, upon or near which, work is carried on whether occasionally or otherwise. ’ Before this Act there was only legislation in place for people working in mines or factories. The law stated that to prevent any accidents occurring in the workplace the employer must provide a safe place to work along with a safe system and staff who are able to carry out their jobs correctly (Byrne et al, 2003).

The employer should accept that there is no such place as an accident-free workplace but he should take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure health safety and welfare of his/her staff. Where the employer is unable to protect against the hazard he should then supply relevant protective wear to aid safety. The employer should also have an exit plan in case of a fire/flood etc. There should be a fire drill held at least once every year. The employer should also ensure that all entrances and exits are kept clear as to prevent an obstruction for people delivering or collecting goods that could cause an accident.

In order for this to work the employee should take reasonable care of his own safety and ensure that his actions do not danger any of the other employees. The employee should also cooperate fully in all the rules set down by the employer in order to ensure safety in the workplace e. g. wear protective clothing, cooperate in routine fire drills (Montgomery, 2003). If any faults are noticed by an employee in any equipment that could harm that of other employees it should be reported immediately to prevent an accident.

The manufacturers of this equipment should ensure that all products do not cause a danger when used in a place of work and should include the correct information for use in the workplace. There is also a specific duty forced by the Act on the people who design and construct the workplace to ensure that the space is as safe as possible and imposes no risk to the health of any of the employees. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, which now replaces that of the 1989 Act can be said to ‘develop further the concept of modern hazard identification begun by the 1989 Act. (Kinsella, 2008 pg4). The Act develops the role of employers, employees and the Government in creating and enforcing safety and health policy in Ireland. If you are involved in any form of work, from an employer to a designer of equipment used in a place of work the 2005 Act will impact on you. It takes a preventative approach to reducing accidents and ill health at work and also introduces some changes in relation to risk assessment and safety statements. The main effects are set out below. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the national body in Ireland which holds all responsibility for health and safety at work.

The HSA supervises the compliance of the legislation in the workplace and if the proper precautions are not being taken the HSA can then take enforcement action. The legislation under this Act states that every employer must, as soon as possible, prepare a statement in writing which is known as a safety statement. In this statement the employer must describe the way in which the safety, health and welfare in the workplace shall be secured. The safety statement should include how the employer intends to comply with the 2005 Act.

It should contain a summary of the safety and health goals and objectives in the workplace, a list of responsibilities and the means of achieving the aims and objectives (Moffatt, 2006). If the safety inspector finds the safety statement to be inadequate he may order it to be revised. Also, with the increasing number of non national workers it may be required to have the safety statement in more than one language. It is a criminal offence not to have a safety statement for the workplace. Employers (including self-employed) are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace as mentioned in the 1989 Act.

Some of the duties the employers must carry out under the 2005 Act are defined by the term “reasonably practicable”. This statement means that the person has applied all due care when, having identified the hazards and assessed the risks at the workplace, has taken all necessary protective and preventive methods. Under the 2005 Act the duties of an employee include compliance of all the relevant legislation set down in aid of health and safety, they should also ensure that they are in no way under the influence of any substance which may cause a danger to their own or others safety.

The employees should also attend any training that is necessary in order to improve any health, safety or welfare issues at work. Also they should cooperate fully with the employer to ensure the laws are followed as well as the duties mentioned in the 1989 Act (Forde, 2001). Improper conduct such as violence, bullying or horseplay will not be tolerated also any damage or misuse of any protective equipment is prohibited and would be brought forward to the HSA, this can be a hazard due to potentially dangerous machinery.

As the HSA is responsible for enforcing health and safety at work they have a number ways on which they can enforce these laws. An inspector may order an improvement plan to be made, within one month, dealing with a specific risk which would include setting out the planned action in place for that risk. Enforcement Notices will be given in order to deal with a failure to follow the law. An Improvement Notice states a given time for a risk or hazard to be fixed by while a Prohibition Notice involves immediate termination of the activity that is creating the risk in the work place.

The HSA may also apply to the High Court for an order stating the prohibition or restriction of a place of work (Donovan, 2006). The courts may impose fines, prison sentences or even both depending on the offence in question. In conclusion, by outlining the main points of both Acts for this assignment, I have now become more educated in the area of Health and Safety at Work. Its is a vital piece of legislation which ensures the health and safety of all workers in Ireland. This should benefit me greatly when i finish my degree and I am in a workplace of my own.