Health & safety risks highlighted by HSA

Alan Hickey

October 29 2019

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) recently published its Annual Report for 2018. The report provides insight into how health & safety risks can undermine your business.

Workplace health & safety

In the report, the HSA set out its programme of work in 2018 with a particular focus on:

  • Workplace health & safety
  • Use of chemicals
  • Safe handling
  • Dust control

Workplace fatalities

The report found that 39 people died in work-related accidents, down 19% on 2017. Non-fatal injuries also look set to be down on last year. 633 injuries were recorded so far this year, compared with 838 in total last year. The construction sector had the highest number of deaths, with five fatalities.

Is your workplace ready for an inspection? 

In 2018, the HSA completed over 9,000 inspections and investigations. The construction sector accounted for 3,700. The HSA took enforcement action on foot of inspections in 60% of these cases resulting in fines totalling €705,972.

Safe handling

Safe handling, the use of chemicals, and controlling dust generation were also major focus areas for the HSA. These are areas that can lead to health issues over extended periods. The HSA conducted 72 asbestos inspections, and fined one employer €50,000 for failing to ensure the health & safety of workers carrying out demolition work.

Fines and criminal liability

The fines imposed by the HSA in 2018 ranged from €100 to €200,000. The report also included details of criminal prosecutions under health & safety legislation. Letterkenny Circuit Court handed down a prison sentence of 12 months, suspended for 12 months following a guilty plea to a breach of the legislation in relation to a crane working near overhead power lines.

2019 so far

HSA enforcement activity remains constant in 2019. 2019 has also seen the first custodial sentence for a breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 handed down to an individual employer. See our case report here. The prosecution followed a fatal workplace accident on board a fishing vessel.  

Make sure you’re ready when the HSA calls

The 2018 HSA figures highlight the severe consequences of breaching health & safety laws. All employers have a legal obligation to ensure the health & safety of their employees. With a HSA site inspections blitz recently announced, it’s clear that employers will continue to be closely monitored by the health & safety authorities.

Need our help?

If you would like further complimentary advice on health & safety risks from an expert, our advisors are ready to take your call any time day or night. Call us on 1890 252 923 or request a callback here.

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