New HSA workplace inspections strategy to impact all sectors

Noel Collins - Health and Safety Team Leader

February 22 2022

First published: February 22nd, 2022

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published new workplace guidance that is set to impact all sectors.

Employers already have health & safety obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. However, this new guidance aims to cover a broader range of businesses to improve workplace health and safety standards in all sectors.

Here, we look at the new Health and Safety Authority guidance, their Programme of Work 2022.

HSA Programme of Work 2022

The Health and Safety Authority in Ireland has stated in its Programme of Work 2022 that it intends to carry out 8,500 health and safety inspections. 7,500 of these will be proactive, while 1,000 will be reactive.

Health and safety inspections will focus on the high-risk sectors, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Health/social care
  • Transportation/storage

Inspections will focus on a range of areas, such as:

  • Biological
  • Physical and chemical agents
  • Psychosocial and ergonomic risks
  • Working at height
  • Livestock
  • Machinery
  • Violence and aggression
  • Passenger lifts
  • Workplace transport operations

HSA inspectors will also enquire about the appointments of safety representatives and project supervisors. Another area of inspection will cover vulnerable and migrant workers.  

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Health and Safety Authority safety statement

The Health and Safety Authority safety statement includes guidance for:

  • Farmers as clients on construction projects
  • Laboratories using biological agents
  • Asbestos notifications and reoccupation requirements
  • Health surveillance requirements
  • Hearing checks and audiometry
  • Remote working hubs/home working
  • Health and safety advice for migrant workers
  • Advice for online content moderators

Guide: What is a safety statement?

Employer responsibilities and looking ahead

In presenting the new strategy and Programme of Work for 2022, Dr Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the HSA, said: “Throughout the implementation of our new Strategy Statement and our annual Programmes of Work, the Authority will be setting out to achieve tangible outcomes in occupational safety and health (OSH), accreditation, chemicals, and market surveillance. The key to a successful and productive economy and workforce is a commitment to safer and healthier working lives for all.

“The Authority remains focused on the challenges facing today’s workplaces and enterprises, but is also looking ahead to the future where we see the introduction of new technology and the increased focus on climate action and chemicals sustainability, bringing benefits to occupational safety and health. The Authority will also remain committed to offering enterprises, employers and employees a range of tools and supports to enable them to meet their statutory obligations and ensuring they keep themselves and their workplaces safe.” 

As you may already know, employers in Ireland have a legal duty to protect employee health and safety. Employers also have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those affected by their business activities.

So, the first step you should take is to review your health and safety policies and procedures to make sure they align with HSA standards. Doing so will also help you spot new risks and take action. This will lead to reduced accidents in the workplace.

When you’ve reviewed and updated your health and safety documents, share the new versions with employees. This is helpful because a key part of protecting employee health and safety is that the employees themselves have proper knowledge of good health and safety practices. 

Article: What are an employer’s most essential health & safety documents?

Questions about the new HSA workplace inspections strategy?

For answers to your questions on workplace health and safety, speak to one of our health and safety consultants on 0818 923 923.

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