Background to Health and Safety Legislation
The Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 provides outlines the responsibilities employers, self employed and employees have in relation to health and safety in the workplace. It is the employers responsibility to provide and environment that is risk free and safe as well as systems of work and organisation, including the maintenance of equipment and machinery. In addition to this the employer has a responsibility to provide information, instruction and training where necessary in order to equip employees with the necessary skills to practice safely and respond appropriately in the event of an emergency (HSA).
Statistics from the Health and Safety Authority (2010-2011) report there were 6956 non fatal injuries reported mostly in health and social work activities. This resulted in more than 3 days absence from work and in 2010 the Central Statistics Office reported 666,553 days lost due to injury. Of note the Occupational Injuries board (OIB) awarded 11,616 claims. In 2008 Ireland had more days lost to injury in comparison to Great Britain or Sweden.
Manual handling injuries accounted for one third of all reported injuries with an increase in reported incidents of aggression, fright shock or violence as a trigger. There were 54 workplace fatalities reported in 2011 this has increased since 2010, mostly in the areas of agriculture, forestry and fishing sector.
Employees are legally required to report incidents to the HSA when injuries result in 4 or more days absent from work. These maybe reported by telephone, fax or online.
What does this mean for employers? To reduce risk of injury or worse fatality it is paramount that training is provided for staff. In 2010 Irish employers paid €5bn in PRSI contributions for illness, maternity pay and disability including absence due to injury (IBEC 2010). Therefore, appropriate training within the areas of health and safety will aim to reduce the cost of injury and loss of hours at work.