Amendments Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 10 form a composite proposal. Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 15 and 52 are consequential on amendment No. 1. Amendment No. 34 is consequential on amendment No. 10. Amendment Nos. 10a, 11, 13, 19, 39 and 57 are related and may be discussed together. Therefore what may be discussed together are amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 10a, 11, 14, 15, 19, 34, 39, 52 and 57. It sounds a formidable list but they are all either related or consequential.
Safety in Industry Bill, 1978: Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, subsection (1), line 13, to delete "Safety in Industry" and substitute "Safety at Work".
As I said on Second Stage this Bill is too restrictive as there are thousands of workers who are covered by no legislation whatever as regards safety and health at work. Office workers are covered by the Office Premises Act, 1958, which is years out of date. The specific purpose of this amendment is to cover agricultural workers. At present, unlike other EEC countries, they are covered by no legislation. We are all aware of the dramatic increase in farm mechanisation in recent years. In some areas farms are using as much sophisticated and dangerous equipment as are particular industries. There has been a dramatic increase in the use of fertilisers, chemicals and other potentially dangerous substances on farms and we have the continuing problems of farmers lung and brucellosis. It is ludicrous that in this day and age we do not have detailed safety and health legislation to protect farm workers.
Some people might argue this should be an issue for the Minister for Agriculture. I strongly contend that it is essentially a matter for the Minister for Labour. The Minister for Agriculture is concerned with agricultural policy and the development of agriculture. Working conditions and, in particular, protective legislation relating to working conditions must be the concern of the Minister for Labour for all, including agricultural workers.
I support what Deputy Ryan said. It is no harm to recap what we and Deputy Ryan and his colleagues said about this Bill. It is an incomplete Bill in so far as it does not cover all work places. I should like to talk about amendment No. 10a as we are taking amendment No. 1 with other amendments. Amendment No. 10a seeks to extend the scope of the Bill to:
any premises or land in or on which people are employed in work of an agricultural or horticultural nature including fishfarms and the employees are not members of the owner's family.
That is fully in line with what Deputy Ryan has said. It also seeks to cover:
any premises which apart from this subsection is not a factory, in which a computer is operated, or in which machines or machinery ancillary to the working of an office are operated.
I know a little about computers and they would normally be covered by the Office Premises Act but when that Act was passed computers were almost unheard of. They are very noisy and have not only an audio impact but a nerve impact as well. In the amendment it is proposed specifically to cover computers and other noisy office machinery.
It also seeks to cover any enclosed place of entertainment in which sound reproducing equipment is operating. There are many people working in discos who are subjected night in and night out to very high decible level which can only be damaging. It must be damaging for clients of discos but at least they are going there voluntarily. The concern of this Bill should be to provide for the health of people who work in discos or places of entertainment where there is no control over noise levels. Noise can be a major factor in affecting hearing, the nerves and attitudes to work.
The amendment also seeks to cover any kitchen or other place in which food is prepared apart from a domestic kitchen in a private house. Many accidents occur in kitchens in restaurants, canteens and hotels. This is an area in which the Bill is dificient. I wish also to extend the Bill to cover any sewage plant, sewer, pipeline or manhole. I am a member of the city council and a former Lord Mayor of Dublin and I have been approached by a number of workers about this problem. There is no legal protection that I know of for local authority workers working in sewers. I understand that they go down sewers without safety harnesses or any legal protection against possible gases. There is a paragraph which would give the Minister, by regulation, power to extend the scope if other such areas arose.
The incompleteness of the Bill is evidenced by the Minister's vast number of amendments. I urge the Minister to accept the change in title and other amendments proposed by Deputy Ryan and to accept the addenda to the Bill.
The question of the scope of this Bill was raised by certain Deputies on Second Stage. When replying to that debate, I explained to the House that all-embracing legislation of the kind proposed by the Deputies would entail a considerable amount of prior research and examination. The Deputies, at the time, seemed in agreement with this point and mentioned periods of three to four years. I did say at the time that, as Minister of Labour with responsibility in the area of industrial safety, it would not be justifiable for me to wait that long when there are immediate improvements which could and should be made to the 1955 Factories Act. It is in the belief that such improvements should not be delayed that the Safety in Industry Bill is now before the House. It is thus a measure which has a very specific, although rather narrow, purpose.
At the same time, however, I did make it clear that I was aware of the desirability of having a more global examination of the general area of safety. It was with that in mind that I announced to the House my intention of setting up a working party to give consideration to the question of safety in a broader context than that of industry alone. I have since repeated that assurance to the House on a number of occasions, the last being in response to a parliamentary questions last year from Deputy O'Connell. I propose to make arrangements for the establishment of the working party in the near future. I have written to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Federated Union of Employers in this connection, informing them that this is my intention and that I am presently considering terms of reference and have invited them along for any necessary discussions they would like to have regarding this review body. Now that we are on Committee Stage in the House, I felt that some time had elapsed and that it was desirable that this working party should be got under way as soon as possible and the composition and the terms of reference explored.
The working party will be representative of the interests concerned. Needless to say, I shall invite the Departments of Agriculture and of Fisheries and Forestry to make a contribution. It would be possible for the question of the suitability of existing safety legislation for types of work other than industry to be examined, as well as the feasibility of enforcing it outside the context in which it was originally drafted. The variety of operations, involving mechanical, ground crops, greenhouses, chemical soil treatment, spraying, animal husbandry, protective clothing and so on calls for very detailed examination. It is only fair to my colleagues in the Department of I understand that about 800 instructors under the aegis of that Department give courses direct to farmers in local areas in which emphasis is placed on safety.
The agricultural inspectorate comprises various groups which, in addition to giving specialist advice to farmers and operating certain schemes, have an educational wing devoted to the training of young farmers. The courses involved are given by agricultural colleges and the question of machinery plays a large part in the courses. Regulations have also been made in the Department of the Environment which make it a legal requirement that all tractors first registered after 1970 be fitted with a safety cab or frame and all tractors, old and new, be similarly fitted from September 1977. While it is, I understand, too soon to quote statistics to show how effective this legislation has been in reducing fatal accidents, I am informed that reports of those who have escaped injuries in tractors fitted with cabs would appear to show that the legislation should remove a major cause of death and serious accidents on farms.
Some 85 per cent of the average of 29 fatal accidents on farms per year during the five year period 1973 to 1977 were caused by tractors overturning, mainly on public roads, or by other accidents associated with tractors or with machinery. A further 15 per cent involved other forms such as happenings caused by falls, drownings, suffocation, electrocution, poisoning, attacks by animals and sundry other causes. It might also be mentioned here that one of the 14 priority items in the resolution adopted by the European Council on 29 June 1978 on an action programme of the European Communities on safety and health at work was to "undertake a joint study of the application of the principles of accident prevention and of ergonomics in the design, construction and utilisation of the plant and machinery and promote this application in certain pilot sectors, including agriculture".
A seminar on safety problems in agriculture was organised by the EEC and took place in Denmark in October 1978. The Department of Agriculture were represented at that seminar. It may interest the Deputies to know that a working party was established over a year ago in the Department of Forestry to examine safety standards for various forestry operations, with the emphasis on safety, safe methods of working and protective clothing. The membership of the working party comprises a chairman who is a divisional management inspector, a secretary who is a district inspector and ordinary members who are inspectors—that is engineers engaged in the civil, mechanical and work study side, in addition to representatives from the personnel side.
The working party has completed a document on safety relating to chain saw operation. Recommendations in the document include the wearing of steeltoed boots, ear muffs, face visors, protective clothing and safety precautions to be undertaken. The working party has found that although this protective clothing is provided it may not be worn by the workers. The working party is currently preparing a document dealing with safety precautions in general tree-harvesting work. This work would include work at felling trees, taking trees to roadsides, operating tractors and so on. The working party is also giving consideration to the question of safety measures in connection with the extraction of timber by tractor.
Let me make it quite clear that in rejecting these amendments, I am not in any way denying that the safety of agricultural workers is as important as that of workers in other areas. Their safety is equally important. What I am saying quite categorically is that this Bill has been conceived for a limited, but nevertheless desirable purpose. It is not the appropriate vehicle for achieving what the Deputies are seeking here. Indeed, my intentions with regard to the Bill would probably gave been reflected more accurately had it a short title such as the Factories (Amendment) Bill. In choosing a short title, however, I wish to have one that would be more positive and more modern than that of the 1955 Act.
Finally, may I assure the Deputies of two things, firstly, that I shall be in touch with the Ministers for Agriculture and for Fisheries and Forestry at the first available opportunity to inform them of what the Deputies have said here today and secondly, to re-iterate that the projected working party on occupational safety and health, to which I referred, will provide an appropriate forum for the important question to be fully examined with the detail and care that it merits. I have no doubt that the input from the Departments of Agriculture and Fisheries and Forestry in that regard should prove more than useful and helpful.
Having explained that this Bill is limited for specific reasons, I say that it is extremely important and desirable that it should be proceeded with and that the other areas that I have mentioned can best be covered by the suggestions I have made and particularly by the work of the working party.
I welcome the Minister's statement on the setting up of a working party to investigate and, we hope, cover all the needs and shortcomings in the Bill as outlined by both Deputy Mitchell and myself in our amendments. I said on the Second Stage that the scope of the Bill was too limited; it was hasty and ill conceived. There were as many workers omitted from the coverage of the Bill as were included. Allowing for the omission of agricultural workers, their safety and so on, I think it is a record when we find that the Minister had as many amendments to this restricted Bill as resulted from the combined efforts of both Opposition spokesmen. I look forward to the report of the working party in the not too distant future. I hope it will cover all the needs of the workers in all industries as we face the eighties. We are becoming more industrialised and our agricultural sector more sophisticated and for that reason the people involved in these industries on the ground are entitled to and must get the Minister's protection.
The only reservation I have about the working party is that it could be a long and lingering effort in the case of this legislation, legislation which is badly needed. The whole point about urgency here does not ring true as the Minister referred to it. It is at least 18 months since this Bill was tabled and there has been great delay in getting the Committee Stage to the House. We are told that passing the Bill is a matter of urgency and then we have a working party to examine points raised by Deputy Ryan and myself. That does not seem to add up. Other than that, the working party is a step in the right direction. The Minister has accepted the principle that safety legislation should cover all workers at all work places, or at least most of them, and to that extent I welcome it. It is worth repeating however that the Bill was ill-conceived, as evidenced by the number of amendments—over 150, I think—many of them in the name of the Minister. It is also worth repeating that the Minister did not consult the obvious people such as the Association of Industrial Medical Officers and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine at UCD in the drafting of the Bill. Therefore, it is legitimate criticism to say that the Bill was just top-of-the-head stuff with not much thought given to it. This is substantiated by the large number of ministerial amendments and by the Minister's confession now that a working party is necessary to extend the scope of the Bill. If that is the case—and we accept that there should be a working party—how should we proceed with the remaining amendments? I do not wish to waste the time of the House discussing individual amendments which will be successively turned down and referred to the working party. I do not know if we can come to some agreement on this or not.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle
It is a matter for the Minister. The Chair is only concerned with the amendments we have here.
I welcome the approach of both Deputies to this important area of safety which has always been of prime concern to me, to my Minister of State and to the Department. I agree there has been a time lag since the Second Stage was before the House and that there is a considerable number of amendments from me and from the Opposition. Some of the time was used very usefully in consultation with people most concerned in this field, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the FUE. Many of the amendments result from those discussions and others are drafting amendments. Perhaps we all have a little responsibility for delay. I remember being very anxious to get this measure on to the Order Paper in the last weeks of the Dáil session before Christmas but Deputy Mitchell did not appear to be enthusiastic.
I could not be here on the date chosen.
I cannot say about that, but the position is that I was anxious to get on with it. That, however, is not important now. What we are doing this morning is in the interests of the safety of workers; it is perhaps limited but nevertheless important. As regards the other amendments, I think as we go through them we can co-operate to the best of our ability so as to speed up this important legislation. I again thank the Deputies for their approach on the opening of the Committee Stage.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle
We are now dealing with amendment No. 1. Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 10 are a composite proposal. Nos. 2, 3, 15 and 52 are consequential on No. 1; No. 34 is consequential on No. 10; Nos. 10a, 11, 14, 19, 39 and 57 are related. What is happening No. 1?
We are accepting the working party.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle
The others will follow.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 4, between lines 26 and 27 to insert the following new definition:
" `functions' includes powers and duties;".
This is merely a drafting amendment referring to the regulations. Its purpose is to insert in the Bill a definition of "functions" as including powers and duties. The term "functions" need not necessarily cover powers and duties in every case but the possibility will exist for powers and/or duties to come within the meaning of "functions" when appropriate or desirable. As an example of how the definition could be useful, under ministerial amendments to be moved to sections 36 and 37 the Minister, following consultation with representatives from both sides of industry, will be able to make regulations to add to the functions of safety representatives and safety committees. Now, by virtue of the definition of "functions" the Minister could, if necessary, include powers and duties of safety representatives and committees in the regulations also. It is an amendment which will improve the Bill.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 5, before line 1, to insert the following new definitions:
" `prohibition notice' has the meaning assigned to it by section 11 (2);
`safety committee' has the meaning assigned to it by section 37 (1);
`safety delegate' has the meaning assigned to it by section 37 (4) (b);".
Again, this is a drafting amendment, the purpose of which is to include in the usual way the definition of "prohibition notice", "safety committee" and "safety delegate" in this interpretation section. I think there should be no objection.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle
Amendment No. 27 is consequential on amendment No. 7.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 5, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following new definition:
" `safety representative' has the meaning assigned to it by section 36 (1);".
This is also a drafting amendment. If the term "prohibition notice" had been used exclusively in this section the reference to section would have been correct, but now "prohibition notice" occurs also in paragraph (a) section 55 and for that reason it is now necessary to substitute the word "Act" for "section". The reference now is to prohibition notice in the Act rather than in the section.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 5, paragraph (c) of the definition of "specified premises", to insert "or 89 (1)" after "88 (1)" in line 12.
This again is a drafting amendment. In the Factories Act, 1955, a line or siding is mentioned in section 86 (1) in connection with docks, works, quays and warehouses; in section 88 (1) in connection with building operations; and in section 89 (1) in connection with works of engineering construction. In paragraph (c) of the definition of "specified premises" in the Safety in Industry Bill, reference is made only to a line or siding mentioned in sections 86 (1) and 88 (1) of the 1955 Act. For the sake of consistency, it is now proposed to add a reference to a line or siding mentioned in section 89 (1) of that Act.
Amendments Nos. 11a, 31c and 45a are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 11a:
In page 6, line 16, to delete "Minister for Health" and substitute "the Industrial Medical Adviser and the National Industrial Safety Organisation".
I will not press this amendment because of the working party. It is to substitute "the industrial medical adviser" for "the Minister for Health" where he is mentioned in the Bill. It is not vitally important but it would be an improvement if we specified the industrial medical adviser as the person who would decide the many things referred to in the Bill.
I will take the Deputy's reference to NISO first of all. This is a voluntary educational body founded for the purpose of promoting safety awareness and, I may add, a body for which I have tremendous respect. When it is a matter of consultations about proposed regulations under the Factories Act, the appropriate body to which they are referred for comment, is of course, the Factory Advisory Council which are a statutory body established under section 21 (7) of that Act. They are representative of both sides of industry. It is the intention that this referral procedure will continue to be used in the case of regulations to be made under the Safety in Industry Bill when enacted. That is a desirable reference there.
With regard to the question of substituting the industrial medical adviser for the Minister for Health, that was already raised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions during the course of the discussions which took place with both sides. The reasons for rejecting the substitution were found to be acceptable to congress and I should like to outline them briefly here for the benefit of the Deputy.
The Minister for Health has overall responsibility for promoting the health of all our citizens. Therefore, it is only right and proper that he should be consulted when the Minister for Labour proposes to make regulations designed to safeguard the health of certain of those citizens who work in factories. Secondly, the industrial medical adviser is designated by the Minister for Labour, one of his duties being that of advising the Minister professionally in relation to his functions under the Safety in Industry Acts. In this connection it goes without saying that the industrial medical adviser would always be consulted as a matter of course when any regulations under the section in question are being made. This will be done on an administrative basis since the industrial medical adviser would be one of the officers in the Minister's own Department. There would be no need to make provision for consultation in the Bill. I take it that Deputy Mitchell would accept that explanation. The point he has made has already been withdrawn by congress.
Amendment Nos. 11b and 12a are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 11b:
In page 6, line 25, to insert "registered" before "post".
Section 6 proposes a new subsection. Paragraph (a) of this subsection reads:
by leaving it at or sending it by post to the registered office if any of the body.
My amendment suggests that it should be by registered post.
No difficulty has arisen in relation to the provision in the period of over 20 years during which the 1955 Act has been in force. In the circumstances I do not see any reason to change "post" to "registered post". It may, in fact, cause difficulties. Registered post, for example, cannot be left with the intended recipient unless a receipt has first been signed for it. A refusal to sign a receipt would then mean that a summons sent by registered post could not be served. If I felt there was some merit in it I would consider the Deputy's point but not having experienced any problems with its operation over more than 20 years it is probably more acceptable and could perhaps cause fewer difficulties than if we changed it to registered post. I suggest to him that "post" appears to have operated satisfactorily over a long period. We are taking a second amendment with that and the Deputy may wish to speak on it.
Amendment No. 12a is to add a further paragraph to the section and reads as follows:
In page 6, between lines 32 and 33, to insert a new paragraph as follows:
"(d) However in the case of a summons being sent by registered post, a copy of such summons should also be sent by registered post at the same time to all directors.'.".
This is to get over some of the problems the Minister mentioned. I do not consider what the Minister has said is really very valid because it would be very easy, with the state of the postal services at the moment, for somebody to deny he received an ordinary letter. There is no proof that one receives an ordinary letter whereas the very essence of the registered postal service is to have evidence of the receipt of a letter. If it is not accepted that is evidence that there is something wrong in the situation and would, I hope, prompt the factory inspector to take further action. The Minister should accept this very minor amendment. This highlights the fact, on which there has been much comment, that the Department are irrelevant because even minor amendments like this are not accepted.
I know from my own Opposition days the effort I put into legislation and I appreciate the difficulties that Opposition Deputies can have when Bills are before the House. I would always listen very tolerantly and I would be happy to see the Department looking very closely at any amendments submitted. I can assure the Deputy that this has happened in this case as well. There are two options at the moment. It can be posted or it can be left at the actual factory or premises. It appears to have been adequate. I will consider that amendment but it may well be creating difficulties that have not been experienced in the present system.
In relation to the second amendment which the Deputy moved I feel very strongly that he may be introducing difficulties here that would slow down the work of the inspectorate or at times make it impossible for them. It would mean that copies would have to be sent at the same time to all directors. What guarantee have we that we have the names of all the directors of any concern? What would happen if we were found not to have such a name or if a change of directors occurred without notification? It could introduce difficulties not experienced at present. The service of documents in cases like that has not caused any problems. But if these amendments are accepted I fear we would be introducing difficulties that do not exist at present and making it more difficult to get these documents across in the proper and regular way.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 6, line 32, to insert "or by leaving it at that place" after "resides".
This is a drafting amendment. It will be noted that in paragraphs (a) and (b) there is an option of either posting a document or leaving it at the relevant place. In paragraph (c) however posting only is mentioned, so the purpose of this amendment is to make paragraph (c) consistent with paragraphs (a) and (b).
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 6, paragraph (c), line 37, to delete "68".
Section 68 of the Factories Act, 1955, prohibits the employment of female young persons in any part of a factory where certain processes are carried on—for example, melting or blowing glass other than lamp blown glass, or annealing glass other than plate or sheet glass. At the initial stages of the preparation of this Bill a proposal was included to repeal section 68 of the Factories Act to which I have referred on the grounds that it could be considered discriminatory. Through an oversight the projected repeal was not removed from the draft Bill after the enactment of the Employment Equality Act, 1977. The opportunity is now being taken on Committee Stage to correct the oversight so that this protected provision may remain part of the 1955 Act. Section 14 of the Employment Equality Act, 1977, provides that nothing done by the employer in compliance with any requirement of or under (a) the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936, (b) the Shops, Conditions and Employment Act, 1938, (c) the Factories Act, 1935, and (d) the Mines and Quarries Act, 1965, shall constitute discrimination in contravention of the Employment Equality Act, 1977. Therefore, Deputies can feel reassured on that score as to the reasons for that amendment.
An Leas-Ceann Comhairle
Amendment No. 13a is consequential on amendment No. 15b and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 13a:
In page 6, line 45, to delete "following subsection" and substitute "following subsections".
This is a very minor amendment.
Amendment No. 15b reads:
In page 7, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:—
"(1A) Failure to comply with any of the provisions of the foregoing subsection shall be an offence...
It is not specified that it is an offence although, I suppose, it is implied that it is an offence. I just want to spell it out there. If the Minister can assure me that it is not necessary, that it is accepted as being an offence and that there is some penalty, I would be delighted not to press that part of that amendment. The second part of amendment No. 15b reads:
(1B) It shall be within the power of the Safety Committee constituted under this Act to fix penalties for the failure of a worker to comply with any reasonable directions on safety matters given by an authorised person and this penalty shall not in any case exceed 1 week's wages in respect of any single offence.'.".
This part of the amendment is prompted by my own experience as a one time member of a safety committee. The fact is that safety committees have no real influence over individual workers. One of the major shortcomings of the Bill is that there is very little emphasis on the responsibility of the individual to abide by the safety procedures laid down and to use the safety equipment and clothing provided. One of the major causes of accidents is the non-observance of safety regulations and the refusal to wear safety clothing or use safety equipment. I would be slow to introduce compulsion where the same results can be achieved by a voluntary effort but I honestly believe that in dealing with human nature we can never get the degree of safety required unless there is an element of compulsion or at least some strong incentive to use safety procedures, safety equipment and safety clothing provided. This paragraph, (1B), as part of amendment No. 15b, would give a certain authority to the safety committees and they would then have a certain relevance. They would introduce a certain motivation to individuals to live up to their responsibilities to themselves and to each other. I cannot stress that too much. We certainly need to impose many obligations and responsibilities in relation to safety and health on employers and trade unions. But we have under-emphasised the responsibility of the individual worker to himself and his fellow workers. We should look very hard at how we can encourage and, if necessary, compel more responsibility on the part of workers to themselves and their colleagues.
I can reassure the Deputy on the first part of this amendment (1A). Let me remind him that section 8 of the Bill merely amends section 125 of the Principal Act, that is, the Factories Act referred to this morning. Therefore section 100 (2) of that Act is applicable here whereby it is an offence for persons employed to contravene section 125 of the Act. The penalties for any such offence which are laid down in section 101 of the Factories Act will be increased by virtue of a provision which I would be proposing for insertion in section 57 (1) of this Bill. Thus the point raised is already covered and I can give the Deputy the assurance that he has asked for.
In regard to the second part of that amendment, I am not in a position to accept it because it would amount to giving legislative power to safety committees and it is the Oireachtas which decides on penalties and the courts which then impose those penalties within the limits which the Oireachtas has decided. I do not deny that accidents, and in some cases fatal accidents, are caused by lack of due regard for safety on the part of persons employed, and many of the points made by the Deputy are relevant, but it is an area where education, encouragement, example, leadership and so on by the safety representative or committee is far more important. I am sure the Deputy will agree with me that to have such powers vested in a safety committee could lead to difficult problems in the work place, quite apart from legal problems.
I do not think the Minister's submission is valid. From my own experience I know that management can and does fine workers for breaches of the safety procedures, just as management has power to fine workers who are late consistently. I accept that is a good reason not to be late. There are many places in this city who fine workers who are late more than four times a year. That is very restrictive. That practice operated where I worked for many years. I am only suggesting that we have an enabling clause to allow such powers to be transferred to a safety committee. However, my view is that amendments will not be accepted by the Minister and this is just a futile exercise.
I am sure the Deputy appreciates that amendments cannot be accepted just for the sake of accepting them. There are amendments that are not considered desirable. With reference to this amendment, I wish to say that it is to improve the legal grounds for taking precautions in the circumstances in which I said that an amendment to section 125 of the Factories Act is being made under section 8 of the Bill.
The Deputy has referred to certain procedures that are operating. These are voluntary arrangements, not arrangements imposed by the Oireachtas. It is not desirable that the Oireachtas should confer powers on committees such as this to impose penalties in certain circumstances. Such power could create difficulties and problems on the shop floor. I suggest to the Deputy that he leaves the imposing to the courts. The inspectorate are experienced and are fully conversant with operations on the shop floor. They are competent and capable with regard to investigations after accidents and also with regard to inspection of premises.
On Second Stage all of us referred to safety committees and their importance. The voluntary arrangements which are in line with our collective bargaining situation are far more desirable than having the Houses of the Oireachtas granting powers to a particular committee to impose penalties on fellow-workers. That would create serious difficulties on the shop floor. I wish to assure the Deputy that I am not rejecting his amendment just for the sake of respecting it. I have given this and all the other amendments the fullest consideration.
I move amendment No. 15a:
In page 7, line 15, after "provided" to insert "in pursuance of these Acts".
This is a minor drafting amendment.
I understand what the Deputy is getting at but I should like to refer him to paragraph (c) which states:
...or other thing provided in pursuance of the said Acts or of regulations thereunder...
In order to avoid repeating that phrase in paragraph (d) a standard drafting device has been used whereby the word "so" appears before "provided". That refers back to the phrase used in paragraph (c) without having to mention it a second time. By the use of the word "so" in paragraph (d) we are talking about clothing, equipment, appliance or other thing provided in pursuance of the Safety in Industry Acts or of regulations made under the Acts. I trust this explanation will make it clear that the point raised in the amendment is covered already in paragraph (d). I am assured by the parliamentary draftsman that this is in line with other legislation.
I move amendment No. 16:
In page 7, subsection (1), lines 22 and 23, to delete "to ensure its safe operation have been provided in relation to the plant when it is properly used" and substitute "have been provided in relation to the plant to ensure its safe operation when it is being properly used".
This amendment is for the purpose of making a drafting improvement in the last two lines of subsection (1). I do not think the Deputies need have any concern about it.
Amendment No. 16a is in the name of Deputy Mitchell. Amendment No. 17a is related and both amendments may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 16a:
In page 7, subsection (1), line 23, after "used" to add "and failure to provide such safeguards shall be considered as prima facie evidence of an offence”.
Section 9(1) states:
It shall be the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any plant for use at work in a factory or specified premises or in work which is work described in section 87(1) of the Principal Act to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safeguards to ensure its safe operation have been provided in relation to the plant when it is properly used.
The Minister may be able to assure us that my amendment is unnecessary but, on the other hand, perhaps it might improve the Bill.
I shall have the points raised by the Deputy examined in greater detail between now and Report Stage. However, I must tell him I have reservations about accommodating either of the points mentioned. Looking at amendment No. 16a as drafted, it would appear to be in conflict with the terms of section 9(1), where the provision of safeguard has to be ensured so far as is reasonably practicable. Therefore, for the Deputy to suggest that failure to provide safeguards is to be considered as prima facie evidence of an offence does not appear to take into account circumstances where it would not be reasonable and practicable to provide safeguards.
Another matter which I should mention is that the consequences of the Deputy's amendment would be to change the onus of proof provision in relation to this one offence among all the other offences, both those existing already under the Factories Act and those proposed under the Safety in Industry Bill. I remain to be wholly convinced that the point at issue would merit a discrepancy of this kind. Industrial inspectors have not encountered problems with the existing onus of proof provision relating to offences under which the burden of proof does not lie with the defendant to show that he has not committed an offence. However, I will have the point examined in greater detail between now and Report Stage.
Regarding amendment 17a, it might be unwise to place such an absolute obligation on the occupier. After all, it is conceivable that in certain instances the occupier might be genuinely unable to give an inspector the name of the person by whom the plant was sold or otherwise supplied. That could be the case, for example, where an employer had taken over the factory as a going concern from somebody else or where the plant had been in the factory for some considerable time and it had proved impossible to trace who had supplied it originally. To constitute as an offence in either such instance the failure to give the name of the supplier would be patently unfair, since the occupier, through no fault of his own, would not be in a position to give that information to the inspector. In other words, I have strong reservations about amendment 16a. Despite that, I am prepared to look at it in greater detail between now and Report Stage. However, it would be unfair to accept amendment No.17a, proposed by Deputy Mitchell.
If that is the Minister's view on the matter I do not see much sense to subsection (6) which reads:
(6) Where plant is used at work in a factory, in specified premises or in works of engineering construction and a request is made in that behalf by an inspector, the occupier shall give to the inspector the name of the person by whom the plant was sold or otherwise supplied.
I propose to add "and failure to do so shall constitute an offence". The Minister says that we cannot do that and what he has said just now is advice to anybody not to give inspectors the information and to say, "We do not know who supplied it". That is going to be a very big loophole, especially in view of what the Minister said here in the debate. It is going to be quoted against him by lawyers and suppliers to the factories. Lawyers will advise clients if asked to say that they do not know. That is the implication of what the Minister has said. I hope that he will bear in mind what I have said and that he will consider it again on Report Stage.
Is amendment No. 16a withdrawn?
No, the Deputy is not going to get away with that.
He is entitled to withdraw it if he wishes.
Does that mean that I cannot comment further on it?
If it is withdrawn we cannot discuss it further. He has not withdrawn it yet.
I am not trying to get at the Minister just yet.
I promise to look at it but I want the Deputy to be under no illusion about the real situation in what is probably the vast majority of cases, that it should not present any difficulty to the occupier to be able to supply the name when requested to do so. I am talking about difficulties that may arise in some small number of cases. The inspectors have always found co-operation from occupiers and obviously also it is in the occupier's interest to give the name of their supplier or manufacturer because very often they may be interested in transferring the responsibility for damages or insurance to the supplier rather than taking it themselves.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 8, subsection (6), line 2, to delete "in works of engineering construction" and substitute "in work described in section 87 (1) of the Principal Act".
Again, this is a drafting amendment, designed to make the places mentioned in subsection (6) consistent with those mentioned in subsection (1) of the section. The reference to works of engineering construction in subsection (6) is superfluous in that such works are already covered under the term "specified premises". However, the reference in subsection (1) to section 87 (1) of the Factories Act has been omitted inadvertently from subsection (6). It is now proposed to rectify that omission.
I move amendment No. 18:
In page 8, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following new subsection:
"(8) Proceedings shall not be taken under this section and under section 109 of the Principal Act in relation to the act or omission.".
This is a legal amendment. Subsections (1) and (7) of this section identify the persons who can be prosecuted where an offence is committed. Section 109 of the Factories Act, 1955, provides for the owner of a machine being liable in certain cases instead of the occupier in respect of an offence. As the definition of "plant" in the Bill includes "machine" this new provision is necessary for the avoidance of doubt and to make it clear that proceedings for an offence in that regard can be taken under this Act or under section 109 of the 1955 Act but not under both. It is to clear a doubt that may arise.
Amendment No. 20 is a new section. Amendment 36 is related to amendment No. 10. Amendments 37, 38 and 40 are consequential on amendment 36. Amendments 36, 37, 38 and 40 may be discussed with amendment 20.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 8, before section 10, to insert a new section as follows:—
"10.—(1) It shall be the duty of any person who erects or installs any plant for use at work in any factory or specified premises or in work which is work described in section 87 (1) of the Principal Act, where that article is to be used by persons at work, to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that nothing about the way in which it is erected or installed makes it unsafe or a risk to health when properly used.
(2) It shall be the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any substance for use at work in any factory or specified premises or in work which is work described in section 87 (1) of the Principal Act,
(a) to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the substance is safe and without risk to health when properly used,
(b) to carry out or arrange for the carrying out of such testing and examination as may be necessary for the performance of the duty imposed on him by paragraph (a),
(c) to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that there will be available in connection with the use of the substance at work adequate information about the results of any relevant tests which have been carried out on or in connection with the substance and about any conditions necessary to ensure that it will be safe and without risk to health when properly used.".
The purpose of the first part of this substantial amendment is to place a duty on erectors and installers of any plant to ensure that it is erected or installed safely and is not a danger to workers on the shop floor. Plant or equipment can be wrongly or dangerously erected or installed in a factory or on a construction site. The Minister may argue that the employer has a duty to ensure that it is safe and proper for the work force. In addition to the employer we must ensure that installers adhere to safe practices and do not walk out of a premises or from a factory site leaving everyone at risk. The second part of the amendment relates to the manufacture, importation and supply of dangerous substances. We are becoming rapidly industrialised and more and more toxic and dangerous substances are being used in our factories. Most workers and companies have very little information about these substances and are not aware of the potential danger to workers. Many experts are horrified at the current state of our legislation in relation to this. This amendment will place a duty on any manufacturer, importer or supplier to ensure that substances are safe and are not a risk to health. It would oblige them to carry out the necessary tests to ensure their safety and, most importantly, it would oblige them to supply adequate information to the workers. Many substances are supplied with little information other than the brand name. I hope the Minister will rectify the situation by accepting this amendment and perhaps he will agree to have this important aspect of the Bill submitted to the working party as this is very important for workers in modern industry.
These amendments were also put forward by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in the course of discussions which took place between Stages of the Bill. In relation to the proposed definition of the word "substance" in the amendment between lines 4 and 5 of section 17, it includes "any natural or artificial substance whether in solid or liquid form or in the form of gas or vapour." This definition is so all-embracing that it would include, for example, water, flour and so on. The acceptance of this amendment would require prior instruction or supervision of an extremely large proportion of the workers covered by the Bill. It would be a nonsense to place such an onerous requirement on employer-occupiers, no matter how well intentioned the idea behind it might be.
I share the Deputy's concern for safeguarding the health and safety of workers where intrinsically dangerous substances are concerned. I sought legal opinion on the best way to deal with the purpose behind these amendments and my advice was that a dangerous substance would have to be mentioned in this Bill as one which the Minister for Labour had declared by order to be dangerous in Part IV of the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 and where the Minister for Labour would have made such an order he has more than sufficient powers to make any necessary regulation about the substance. This in effect renders superfluous any reference to that substance in the Safety in Industry Bill. I must admit that had I not received that advice I would have approached this in a different way. However, I accept the validity of that advice and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions were informed accordingly that they should process their case in this instance in the context of the regulations to be made under the 1972 Act. The Federation of Irish Chemical Industries advised me that they did not consider this Bill to be the appropriate legislation to deal with this topic and cited the various projected EEC requirements which, in addition to the 1972 Act, deal with dangerous substances.
In relation to the Deputy's request that the working party should look at whether or not this is acceptable, I have no objection to any aspects of safety being looked at by them.
I would be happy if this could be included in the Minister's discussions with the working party.
While it may not be possible for me to include it it should not be excluded. The assurance from the Dangerous Substances Act and the regulations under it may be appropriate and may well be able to handle it adequately.
I am happy if it is covered either in the Act or in this Bill and as long as the workers involved have information about the dangers involved.
In relation to the point about imposing duties on persons erecting and installing plant for use in factories, specified premises or in connection with ships described in section 87 (1) of the Factories Act, 1955, the responsibility in that connection should rest with the owner-occupier where the safety of the person employed is concerned. On that basis where plant has been installed or erected the owner-occupier should be satisfied before it is used that it has been installed or erected properly so that when properly used it is neither unsafe nor a risk to health. I am not disposed to consider a dilution such as that proposed in this amendment. The responsibility must be pinpointed. Afterwards I could give the Deputy a copy of some of the regulations relating to the training and supervision of persons working with dangerous substances.
In relation to the erection, I appreciate that the owner has a grave responsibility to ensure that the erection is of a proper standard so that the work force will not be in danger, but the builder should also have to conform to certain standards. There is a twofold responsibility here, to ensure that while the employer is in control of the factory workers are not in danger and, initially, the builder should have to comply with certain standards and methods of building. This is very important because the manager or owner of the factory may not have the expertise in relation to construction to know whether his building has been properly constructed or not.
I feel that the Deputy is spreading responsibility. The amendment does not refer to during the course of building but to afterwards. I accept the Deputy's point that certain standards should be adhered to during the course of construction but that would be covered by the construction regulations. This amendment refers to where an accident occurs after the plant has been erected or installed and it appears to dilute the responsibility where the responsibility should rest fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the owner-occupier.
I had a two-fold worry on this point but I accept what the Minister says.
The Minister to move amendment No. 21. Amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24 are cognate, amendment No. 78 is related and amendment No. 79 is consequential on amendment No. 78. All these amendments may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 21:
In page 8, subsection (1), lines 10 and 11, to delete "machine," and "equipment or appliance, or any part thereof,".
These are drafting amendments. Before the Bill was circulated the definition of "plant" in section 2 was broadened to include "machine, plant, equipment or appliance, or any part thereof." Such words, therefore, should have been deleted from sections 10 and 40 since the word "plant" which encompasses all of them occurs in those sections. The relevant deletions were not effected and the amendments are designed to rectify the error. In addition the opportunity is being taken to insert a reference in section 40 to "process" in two appropriate places in subsection (6) with beneficial effect to the scope of that subsection.
Deputy Mitchell to move amendment No. 21a. Amendment No. 23a is related and amendment No. 26b is consequential on amendment No. 23a. These amendments may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 21a:
In page 8, subsection (1), lines 11 and 12, to delete "then if the Minister considers it necessary for the proper investigation of the accident or occurrence.".
The phrase which it is proposed to delete weakens the subsection. There are many loopholes in this Bill where it is provided that an action might be taken by the Minister in certain circumstances. An earlier subsection provides that an employer "shall" tell the Minister, but if he does not there is no penalty and he does not commit an offence. I shall not press this amendment but perhaps the Minister would consider it.
I have considered this but I am not disposed to agree to the deletion of this phrase, which I believe to be a prudent qualification. It could, for example, be so self-evident that the accident or dangerous occurrence was caused by the plant that the Minister would not consider it necessary to have the plant examined. If the words were deleted, there would have to be an investigation. On the other hand, while it might be self-evident that the plant had caused the accident or dangerous ocurrence, the Minister might consider an examination of the plant to be necessary as a preventive measure with the aim of ensuring that an accident of that kind would not occur again. It is important that the Minister should have discretion in the matter and the deletion of these words would remove that discretion.
I mentioned on Second Stage that there is a need for independence. As politicians we are susceptible to political influence and I should like to exclude that possibility as far as possible in the interests of safety. In 20 years' time an accident could occur in a factory owned by a friend of the Minister of the day and the Minister might be asked to quash the matter. He would have power to do that. Given the present and previous holders of this office, this may not seem very likely, but we need to put beyond doubt the integrity and independence of the safety machinery, the factory inspectorate and so on. That is the motive behind the amendment. If ever I am Minister it is something I will introduce.
The "Dubs" are back.
I do not believe that any Member of this House would be pressurised regarding safety if a friend or anybody else was responsible for an accident. I know that the factory inspectorate operate honestly and independently in the investigation of all accidents. It has always been the case that Ministers have ignored self-interest in the interests of the safety of workers. In no way should a Minister for Labour react to pressures in circumstances such as the Deputy has outlined.
Or Ministers designate.
Or Ministers of State designate.
The House may have my assurance on that point. Discretion is important so that the inspectorate, having investigated a matter, can recommend to the Minister what steps should be taken.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 8, subsection (1), lines 13 and 14, to delete "machine," and ", equipment or appliance".
I move amendment No. 23:
In page 8, subsection (1) (a), line 15, to delete "machine," and "equipment or appliance,".
Amendment No. 23a. may not be moved since it is related to amendment No. 21a which has been withdrawn.
I am not sure the Chair is correct.
The Chair is not sure either but he is going by the brief provided.
I move amendment No. 23a:
In page 8, subsection (1), paragraph (a), line 18, to delete "competent person" and substitute "a qualified person chosen from a list of assessors supplied by the Minister".
We are seeking to substitute for the phrase "competent person" the phrase "a qualified person chosen from a list of assessors supplied by the Minister". This would improve the Bill and the Minister might consider it on Report Stage.
The reason I find the Deputy's amendment unacceptable is because that amendment, and the consequential amendment No. 26b, would reverse what I feel to be the proper sequence of events. The prime responsibility for the safety of his employees should rest with the occupier—a responsibility which, in this case, could be shared with the owner of the plant. Therefore, if the plant in question causes an accident or dangerous occurrence, the Minister should be empowered to require the occupier or owner, as appropriate, to have the plant examined and tested where that is considered necessary. The right of the occupier or owner to select a competent person to carry out these examinations and tests should not be restricted to choosing someone from a list supplied by the Minister: that would be tantamount to ministerial interference with the independence of the occupier or owner. Furthermore, it would remove the Minister's discretion to reject the report of the examinations and tests as inadequate. The section as drafted at present is more satisfactory since it leaves the occupier or owner free to make their own arrangements for examination and testing of the plant in the first place and the Minister takes the initiative only if and when he is not satisfied as to the adequacy of the subsequent report of the competence of the person undertaking the examinations and tests. For that reason, I prefer to leave the section unchanged. If the Deputy's amendment was accepted the Minister would have to accept without any question that report. He would not have any discretion left to him, whereas if the "competent person" is the owner's responsibility the Minister has other powers at his discretion if he finds there is incompetency involved or he questions the report.
My worry is that "competent person" is not sufficiently defined. I accept what the Minister has told me, but would he consider strengthening the definition of "a competent person" for Report Stage?
The problem is that a competent person is one competent to deal with a situation whereas a qualified person need not be competent to deal with a specific situation. He may be qualified but not competent. In my view "competent" is the best word to use. The accident or hazard may be as a result of chemicals but the qualified person may not be competent in that field. The definitions in each case depend on the nature of the matter to be investigated. "Competent" appears to be the safest word.
I can see merit in what the Minister has stated but I should like to know if words should be added after "competent person" to the effect that the Minister shall designate the particular competency in a certain case if the need arises.
That would be taking responsibility from the owner or occupier and would be weakening the hands of the Minister. It would be narrowing the Minister's discretion.
I can see disputes arising as to the definition of "competent".
If I am not satisfied with the report or the competency of the person making the report I have all the discretion in the world to deal with those matters.
If the person who presents the report is found to be incompetent there will be a lot of delay and hassle but if there was not much doubt about the competency expected such delay may not arise. That can be an important point in safety matters.
I move amendment No. 24:
In page 8, subsection (2), line 36, to delete "machine," and ", equipment, appliance or part".
I move amendment No. 25:
In page 8, subsection (2), line 39, to delete "under this section".
This is simply a drafting amendment. The phrase "under this section" is incorrect and should have read "under this subsection". It was the Parliamentary Draftsman's view that the easiest way to deal with the error was to delete the phrase "under this section".
For information I should like to tell the House that if amendment No. 26 is agreed, amendments Nos. 26a and 26c, in the name of Deputy Mitchell, cannot be moved.
I move amendment No. 26:
In page 8, lines 40 to 56, and in page 9, lines 1 to 5, to delete subsection (3).
The deletion of subsection (3) of this section, which I am proposing, is made against the background of the terms of subsection (1). Subsection (1) empowers the Minister for Labour to require an occupier or owner of plant to have such plant competently examined and tested in the event of its having been the possible cause, whether wholly or partly, of an accident or dangerous occurrence in a factory or specified premises. In addition, when the examination and testing have been carried out, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (1) a copy of the results must be given to the Minister by the occupier or owner within seven days of its receipt by whichever of them is involved.
Subsection (3) relates to what the owner of the plant has to do, by way of informing the Minister about testing and examination of plant and sending the Minister a copy of the report of the results, in cases where the testing and examination were carried out other than by a direction from the Minister. Since this subsection also applies to an accident or dangerous occurrence in a factory or specified premises, I have upon further consideration decided that in all cases where plant might have been the cause of an accident or dangerous occurrence it would be appropriate for it to be the Minister who would require the necessary examination and testing to be carried out. Since subsection (3) permits the initiative in that area to be taken by some other person, I am now proposing that that be deleted and that the power stay with the Minister.
I move amendment No. 27:
In page 9, subsection (2), line 31, to delete "section" and substitute "Act".
I move amendment No. 27a:
In page 10, subsection (5), between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(c) In cases heard under this subsection the Justice of the District Court shall seek the advice of a Technical Assessor or other suitably qualified person.".
This amendment is designed to enable a district justice to seek the aid of a qualified assessor in cases of this kind, cases which often are very technical as will be realised from the nature of the debate on the Bill.
I am sorry but we cannot accept the amendment. In conscience, a justice of the District Court would not reach a decision regarding a prohibition notice until he was satisfied that he comprehended fully the import of the case put before him by both parties involved, regardless of how much the evidence that had been offered by the inspectorate, on the one hand, and by the applicant on the other hand, might be of a very technical and conflicting nature. This competence is based on experience in the past in respect of cases brought under the Factories Act and which have involved technical advice. In addition, and perhaps just as important, are the broad implications that would arise from acceptance of the amendment. Assessors would have to be paid and the question of agreeing to make provision for their payment would be a matter for the Minister for Justice and not for the Minister for Labour.
To permit the use of technical assessors under this legislation would raise the issue that in equity their use should be permitted in any case, whether under legislation or otherwise, where technical evidence of any kind, be it medical or psychiatric, for example, were to be given. Again, that would be a matter for decision by the Minister for Justice and not by the Minister for Labour. I might add that from my own experience in a professional capacity I have been giving evidence for many years before district justices and I am satisfied that these justices are competent to assess whatever evidence is given.
I move amendment No. 27b:
In page 10, subsection (9), line 46, after "exceeding £200" to add "and for a continuing offence at £50 per day so long as the offence persists".
This amendment proposes to add, in addition to a fine not exceeding £200, a fine of £50 per day for each day that an offence is continued. The Bill provides merely that a defaulter could be fined up to £200 but in many cases it would be considered worth while paying such a fine which is small in industrial terms whereas if there were to be a fine of £50 per day for each day in respect of which the offence were continued, there would be a strong incentive to discontinue the offence.
I accept what the Deputy is saying but I consider that there is provision in section 11 (8) in respect of continuing offences. Under that subsection if a dangerous activity is persisted in, despite the serving of a prohibition notice, the High Court is empowered to prohibit the continuance of the activity. This would be much more severe than what the Deputy suggests. The subsection enables the court also to make interim or interlocutory orders and to make conditions as to costs. A breach of such a High Court order would constitute contempt of court and would be punishable accordingly, usually by way of jail sentence until the order was complied with.
I am advised also that providing for fines for continuing offences in connection with a prohibition notice would not be a satisfactory way of dealing with the continuation of a dangerous activity and that the provisions of subsection (8) represent the most effective way of dealing with continuing offences in this regard.
In some cases the payment of £50 per day for each day of a continuing offence might be the easy way out but the fact that the court have the power to punish offenders by way of sending them to jail might be a much greater deterrent.
There is some merit in what the Minister says but the intention is to make stronger the reinforcement of safety procedures. However, we may have an opportunity again to think about this or, perhaps, a working group could be set up to consider it.
I move amendment No. 28:
In page 10, before section 12, to insert a new section as follows:
12.—If the Minister is of the opinion that a person—
(a) is contravening one or more of the provisions of this Act or the Principal Act, or
(b) has contravened one or more of these provisions in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated—
he may serve on him a notice requiring that person to remedy the contravention within such period as may be specified in the notice.
Section 11 provides also that the Minister may prohibit the carrying on of activities which could cause serious bodily harm and that in such cases prohibition orders would be issued. The employer has the right of appeal to the courts on receipt of such a prohibition order. However, there may be circumstances in which, while there is something wrong, neither the Minister nor his inspectors would wish the operation to cease immediately. I presume also that in some circumstances an employer could claim in the courts that he should have been given an opportunity to rectify the position and that in some cases the Minister could issue an improvement notice whereby the employer would be obliged to remedy the situation within a set period, for example, within a number of days. In such circumstances the employer would not be in a position to claim subsequently that he had not been given the opportunity to rectify the situation and that is the purpose of this amendment.
As the Deputy will be aware, a similar amendment was put forward by the ICTU in the course of the discussions which took place between the Second Stage and the Committee Stage. It was explained to congress that the contravention letters which were issued under the name of the secretary of my Department achieved the same effect as the improvement notices provided for in the UK legislation, on which this amendment was modelled. It was explained also that the contravention letters situation affords a more flexible approach than would be the case if they were legislative as opposed to administrative measures and that these letters could be said to form part of the advisory role of the industrial inspectorate.
For the further information of the Deputy and of the House, I might mention that there are used different kinds of contravention letters in relation to the Factories Act, 1955. For example, there is a letter which advises that when an industrial inspector visits a premises and reports a contravention of the Act, the contravention should be remedied without delay. There is another one which advises that when an industrial inspector visits a premises and reports a contravention of the Factories Act, 1955 which is specified in the letter and draws attention to the penalties provided in the Act in respect of such contravention, he should request that an assurance be given to the effect that the matters in question are receiving attention.
A further example is one which serves as a first reminder in regard to a contravention letter issued previously.
Another letter serves as a further reminder in regard to a contravention letter previously issued and warns that, if on the next visit of an inspector, the contraventions are not remedied, the steps necessary to secure compliance with the law will be considered without further warning. A further letter refers to a recent visit to the premises by an industrial inspector who found that the conditions there were not fully consistent with the requirements of the Factories Act, 1955, in the respects specified in the letter and requests that the defects mentioned are remedied before any manual workers are employed. That should help the Deputy to accept the position and not to proceed with his amendment.
I accept what the Minister says, that is, that certain sections of the Factories Act cover the points raised in my amendment. Would he not agree that such terminologies as "without delay""receiving attention""considered without further warning", "not consistent" are not sufficiently strong? He might consider that the time factor might be included in the discussions of the working party. The expression "without delay" reminds me of a commission or a review body and could mean up to 12 months. If there was a mishap it would be poor consolation to the workers if a letter was issued to the employer saying that that should be rectified without delay. The Minister should have power to ensure it is done as soon as possible.
That is in compliance with the advisory role of the inspectorate. I wish to see the same ends achieved as the Deputy. The vast majority of employers are anxious to co-operate and to accept the recommendations of the inspectorate. It is desirable that some flexibility be introduced into the situation. If the rules are not complied with, I would not have any sympathy with the employers. The follow-up action of the inspectorate can be very strong and there is no reason why it cannot be effective. As I said, the majority of employers are anxious to comply. The advisory role then comes into play and the employers are given an opportunity to comply but if they do not——
If they do not comply within a certain time, action should be taken. Most employers are excellent but if there is one maverick in a big concern he might use the flexibility given in this Bill to his own advantage.
That is where the provisions of the Act would come into force. I have no objection to the working party looking at this matter.
I move amendment No. 28a:
In page 10, subsection (1), line 51, to delete "so far as is reasonably practicable,".
We have had similar amendments which have not been accepted by the Minister.
The purpose of section 12 (1) is not to require every place to have a safe means of access to and egress from it because that would be patently impossible. For that reason the phrase "so far as is reasonably practicable" must remain in the subsection. To illustrate why this is so I will give some examples.
If a person were employed doing the lattice work of a bridge which was projecting over water his means of access would probably be walking along a girder which would probably not be a particularly safe one as it would be impossible, let alone reasonably practicable, to provide him with an inherently safe means of access. It would then be a question of ensuring that there were safety nets under the bridge in which the person would be caught should he happen to fall but this illustration could also apply in the case of roof or steel work.
There is also the consideration that certain safe means of access or egress would have to be reasonably practicable in the light of current knowledge. For instance, there is now an awareness of the fact that a person can be safely hoisted up to and down from a place of work in a crane. In the past that safe means of access and egress would not for obvious reasons be reasonably practicable.
In summary, it may not always be possible to provide a safe means of access and egress. This is the reason why such means have to be provided so far as is reasonably practicable. Where it would be reasonably practicable in the light of current knowledge to provide these means—for example, ladders or gangways to enable a person to examine an electric motor on top of a lift—then section 12 (1) requires them to be provided and maintained. In the circumstances I do not think the deletion proposed by the Deputy would be desirable.
I move amendment No. 28b:
In page 10, subsection (1), line 53, after "place" to add "conforming to the requirements of access and egress for the disabled".
I thought very hard about this amendment. We should be very serious about making provision for the disabled. There is an alleged public sector policy whereby 3 per cent of all jobs are supposed to be held for the disabled. In all the safety legislation I do not know if there is special provision for safe access and egress for the disabled. In most buildings, public and private, the needs of the disabled have been totally ignored. In the design of our streets we have been very negligent and totally insensitive to their needs. There has been a new approach to this matter. The Minister is adopting the approach to make it possible for the disabled to work—people in wheelchairs, the blind and so on. This might not be the correct section to include these words, but perhaps the working party might consider this matter in greater detail.
By the use of the phrase "any person" in section 12 (1) it was my intention to imply that safe means of access and egress should be provided and maintained for any person working in the place of employment concerned, whether able-bodied or disabled. I shall have the subsection further examined between now and Report Stage to see if it might be possible to make my intentions clearer, because I too agree with the point made by the Deputy.
I understand the Minister for the Environment has prepared draft building regulations concerning access to buildings for the disabled and the National Rehabilitation Board have made proposals to him in relation to those draft regulations. There is a committee under the auspices of the National Rehabilitation Board comprising people with specialised knowledge in this area—the medical, paramedical, architectural, engineering and occupational therapy fields. Recently the NRB issued a booklet entitled Access for the Disabled: Minimum Design Criteria. The board can give an international symbol in cases where there is suitable access to buildings for the disabled. AnCo can award such symbols. I have listened to what the Deputy has said and I will have the subsection examined between now and Report Stage to see if it is possible to make the intention clearer.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 10, subsection (2), line 55, to delete "included" and substitute "were".
This is a simple amendment to correct an obvious error.
I move amendment No. 30:
In page 10, subsection (2), line 56, after "metres" to insert "(6.56 feet)".
This is another drafting amendment to make it clear that two metres is not the equivalent of 10 feet. It is the equivalent of 6.56 feet, and the amendment makes this clear.
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 10, after line 56, to insert the following new subsection:
"(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Principal Act, proceedings for an offence under section 37 of that Act, as amended by this section, shall not be taken within the period of two years beginning on the commencement of this section.".
This amendment arises out of discussions which we had with interested groups between the Second Stage and the initiation of Committee Stage. In this instance the case was put forward by the IEC that given the physical alterations to plant and premises which might be required in many cases, a phasing-in period of two years would facilitate effective compliance with the section. The amendment is designed to accommodate this point by providing that proceedings for an offence cannot be taken until the section has been in force for two years.
I am not happy about this because I do not know when the operation of the section will be commenced. It could be three years after the enactment of the Bill, or it might not be commenced at all. I agree that people should be given a reasonable period of time in which to make arrangements, but would be Minister like to tell us when the operation of the section will be commenced?
I would say immediately after the Bill has been passed, but this requires a practical move. I can appreciate that in certain circumstances means of access may not be up to requirements but in the discussions we had with interested bodies it was found the amendment was desirable.
Amendments Nos. 31a and 31b are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 31a:
In page 11, lines 1 to 6, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:—
"(1) The occupier of a factory or specified premises shall, in relation to noise at places of work take such steps as are reasonably possible to reduce sound levels to the lowest possible degree but if the sound levels are not thus reduced to a level specified in subsection (2) of this section the occupier shall provide all who work within the noise range with personal audio protection devices sufficient to meet the requirements of subsection (2).".
The subsection states:
The occupier of a factory or specified premises shall, in relation to noise in the factory or other premises, take such steps (if any) as are appropriate either by reducing sound levels or otherwise, to ensure that noise in the factory or other premises, or in any part thereof, is such as not to be likely to injure the hearing or otherwise adversely affect the health of persons employed.
I do not think the option should be included. The Minister will appreciate that where audio protection is provided very often those involved will not wear the ear muffs, perhaps because they feel they are a nuisance. In other words, there is an understandable resistance to wearing such protection, and the subsection as it stands is a let-out for employers because what should be done is to have noise levels reduced to the minimum possible. My amendment would be much more effective from the health point of view because it would provide that at places of work the employer should take such steps as are reasonably possible to reduce sound levels to the lowest possible degree.
I am happy to advise the Deputy that the points raised by him have already been covered in special regulations under the 1975 Factories Act. They are the Factories (Noise) Regulations, S.I. No. 235 of 1975. I would draw the Deputy's attention in particular to Regulations 4 (2), 6, 7 and 8. If he wishes, I can let him have copies of the regulations.
In regard to amendment No. 31b, I have provided for the insertion of "audio or nervous" after "bodily". We could take the Ferenka case in which there were very high noise levels and that was a factor towards producing a certain climate in the place, although, of course, it was not the only factor. The subsection refers to bodily injury but there are injuries to health and to nerves caused by noise which might not be described as bodily injuries. I have been advised by an industrial medical practitioner that the definition should be extended.
My legal advice is that the existing term "bodily" includes "audio" as well, so the first part of the Deputy's amendment has been catered for in subsection (2) as drafted. On the question of nervous injury, the medical advice I have is that nervous injury would be difficult to prove or substantiate medically, given a lack of proven relationship between cause and effect, and furthermore to make provisions such as the Deputy proposes could risk making a nonsense of industrial disease prevention regulations because it would bring us into the grey area of psychosomatic illness.
Is amendment No. 31 a withdrawn?
No. This whole area of noise warrants a lot more attention. Perhaps it is something the working party should examine, because I admit it is a very technical area. On Second Stage I proposed that we deal with the Committee Stage of this Bill in Select Committee so that we might have the benefit of technical advisers. I have discussed the question of noise with a few people who know about it. There is no doubt in the minds of a lot of people who ought to know that high noise levels certainly contribute to nervousness, very definitely to disorientation. We know the tactics used in the North and elsewhere to torture people through noise. Noise can have that effect on workers. In some places it could very well be a contributory factor to poor industrial relations. It is the sort of thing that helps to create tension. I feel also that it is an area to which we have not had sufficient regard. Perhaps it is one area the working party could examine in great detail.
I would have no objection at all to the working party examining items such as this. As I have said, regulations in regard to noise have been made. My impression is that there has been an improvement, but I agree with those who say that we must always strive for further improvement in safety. If that meets the Deputy's point I have no objection to considering the question of having the working party examine the question of noise.
I move amendment No. 32:
In page 11, subsection (1), line 28, to delete "ten" and substitute "five".
This amendment arises out of discussion with the interested bodies which took place between completion of the Second Stage and Committee Stage with which we are dealing today. The case was put forward by Irish Congress of Trade Unions that the number of employees in subsection (1) should be reduced from ten to five. The amendment proposed is designed to accommodate this point so I think there should be no objection to it.
Amendment No. 33 in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 61 and 71 are related and may be discussed with amendment No. 33.
I move amendment No. 33:
In page 11, subsection (2), line 36, to delete "applied." and substitute
(d) a dock, wharf, quay or warehouse mentioned in section 86 (1) of the Principal Act.".
Again this amendment arises out of discussions with the interested bodies. The purpose of the amendment put forward by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is to extend the scope of the section to docks, wharves, quarys and warehouses. Two consequential drafting amendments are necessary, one to section 36 (6) and the other to section 37 (9). I do not foresee any objection.
I move amendment No. 35:
In page 11, before line 37, to insert the following new subsection:
"(3) Where two or more factories or premises of a class or description mentioned in subsection (2) of this section are—
(a) situate on the same parcel or contiguous parcels of land, and
(b) occupied by the same occupier, and
(c) used for or in connection with the same business,
the factories, premises, factory and premises or factories and premises, as the case may be, shall for the purposes of this section be regarded as being a single factory.".
This amendment arises out of discussion with both sides of industry. In this instance the case was put forward by the Irish Employers Confederation for a special definition for the purposes of the section to encompass firms which had several physically separate premises in a single location, that provision of canteen facilities and so on should not be required for every one of these premises since they are situate in the same location making one canteen sufficient. The amendment is reasonable and designed to accommodate that point.
Deputy Mitchell to move amendment No. 36a.
I shall not move amendment No. 36a. I do not think it is sufficiently relevant.
The Deputy need not worry. Legally it does not matter; it is merely a style in drafting.
The Minister to move amendment No. 41. Amendment No. 42 is cognate and maybe discussed with amendment No. 41.
I move amendment No. 41:
In page 12, line 24, before "machine" to insert "steam boiler, steam receiver, air receiver, lifting machine, or other".
These are drafting amendments. Their purpose is to add to the general word "machine" the various kinds of machine included in the definition of "machine" which occurs in section 32 (2) of the Factories Act, 1955, inserted by section 17 of this Bill.
I move amendment No. 42:
In page 12, line 29, before "machine" to insert "steam boiler, steam receiver, air receiver, lifting machine, or other".
Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 are related. The Minister to move amendment No. 43 and we will discuss amendment No. 44 with it.
I move amendment No. 43:
In page 12, lines 41 and 42, to delete ", or with the knowledge and consent of, such person" and substitute "such person, or by some other person, being a person standing for the time being designated for the purposes of this section by the occupier, either with the knowledge and consent of the person who is to clean or is cleaning the machine or after that other person has taken such steps as are appropriate to ensure that it is safe to restore such supply".
These amendments arise out of discussions with the interested bodies. It was put forward by the Irish Employers Confederation—and I have some sympathy with the point—that, having established the safety of the cleaners or other persons who might be in contact with the machinery, then some other person should be clearly empowered to restore power to a machine in cases where, for example, the cleaner of the machinery might not be available at the time and where the decision to restore power to or restart the machinery had to be made. The knowledge of the cleaner might not be sufficient to make such a decision because, for example, maintenance men might be involved also. These amendments are designed to cater for such a situation by enabling either the cleaner to restore power to or restart the machine, or some other person designated to do so by the occupier. That person cannot take any action unless with either the knowledge or consent of the cleaner concerned or unless he has taken appropriate steps to ensure that it would be safe to do so.
I move amendment No. 44:
In page 12, lines 53 to 55, to delete "cannot be put in motion without the prior knowledge and consent of the person cleaning the machine" and substitute "may only be put in motion either by the person cleaning the machine, or by some other person, being a person standing for the time being designated for the purposes of this section by the occupier, either with the knowledge and consent of the person cleaning the machine or after that other person has taken such steps as are appropriate to ensure that it is safe to put the machine in motion.".
I move amendment No. 45:
In page 12, after line 55, to insert the following new subsection—
"(3) In this section and in section 32 of this Act (inserted by section 17 of the Safety in Industry Act, 1979) `lifting machine' has the meaning assigned to it by section 35 (10) of this Act (inserted by section 29 of the Safety in Industry Act, 1979).".
Section 29 of the Bill contains a new definition of "lifting machine". The purpose of this amendment is to apply that definition to section 18 and to section 17, where the term "lifting machine" also occurs.
I move amendment No. 45b:
In page 13, line 9, after "employed" to add "whether constantly or occassionally directly involved in the process".
This amendment is to provide for a situation where people are delivering or communicating constantly with a process but are not directly involved in it. Such a situation should be covered. There could be a situation where a person would be working in a room and somebody else could bring materials to him and thus expose his eyes, for example, to danger.
As was the case with the Deputy's amendment to section 13 on noise, I am happy to advise him that the point he has raised about eyes has already been covered in regulations made in 1979 under the Factories Act—the Factories (Protection of Eyes) Regulations, S.I. No. 280 of 1979, which provide for the protection of eyes of persons employed on a process, including those occasionally employed on it, and of persons employed nearby, where the process is specified as one which may constitute a hazard to eyes. The Deputy will see that in this area there are continuing regulations being made which will give an indication of my and my Department's commitment constantly to update and improve safety regulations.
I move amendment No. 45c:
In page 13, line 23, after "premises," to insert "or any person visiting, with the employer's knowledge, the premises for any reason whatsoever,".
This amendment is to provide for persons visiting a place of employment. Persons visiting a factory or premises where there is danger of one kind or another should be covered. An employer should be expected to make some provision for the safety of such persons visiting with his knowledge.
The focus in both the Factories Act and the Safety in Industry Bill is to secure the safety, health and welfare of persons in employment. It is because this legislation is concerned with worker protection that it comes within the area of responsibility of the Minister for Labour. The question of extending that protection to persons other than those employed in factories or specified premises goes beyond the scope and intention of this Bill. That question needs to be considered in a much broader context than that afforded by section 20, taking into account other hazards additional to those which might be caused by dust and fumes for which protection is given under the Factories Act and regulations made under that Act and for which protection is proposed to be given by this Bill. It is a question to which the projected working party on occupational safety and health might perhaps address themselves. Even if the reasons which I have just mentioned for not accepting the Deputy's amendment did not exist I would still decide against it on the grounds that it is too wide. Persons visiting a premises with an employer's knowledge might not be going to the danger area or it is possible that they may go elsewhere than originally arranged with the employer thus causing the employer, through no fault of his own, to be in breach of the legislation.
There is a problem with people visiting premises for whatever reason. If the Minister is prepared to have it studied by the working party I am happy.
Amendments Nos. 45e and 45f are related and may be discussed with amendment No. 45d.
I move amendment No. 45d:
In page 14, subsection (1) (b), line 3, to delete "a person" and substitute "two persons".
I am proposing there should be two persons outside a particularly dangerous work area. I could imagine there would be difficulties if the persons outside were, for example, holding ropes and could not move to raise a wider alarm.
When paragraph (b) of this subsection was being drafted account was taken of the fact that in many cases it would not be necessary to have more than one person outside the confined space. For that reason the term "a person" was constantly used on the grounds that its use would not require more than one person to be outside the confined space. There is flexibility under the paragraph to tailor the number of persons outside to suit individual circumstances. If I accepted amendment No. 45d there would have to be two persons outside in all cases whether they were necessary or not or there would be a breach of the legislation. I prefer to leave paragraph (b) as it is drafted at present. As to the two further amendments, if the Deputy wishes me to comment now I will.
I know of a case where the person outside could not move because he was holding a rope and could not raise a wider alarm. Some people died as a result. They were caught inside and were gassed to death. There was nothing the person could do. He did not know they were gassed because he was holding on to the rope for dear life. There was nobody else to raise a wider alarm. I admit that prescribing that there should be two persons all the time could be unnecessary but there is a volume of opinion which thinks all safety measures are unnecessary until there is an accident.
I move amendment No. 45g:
In page 14, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
"(f) the Minister may by regulations prescribe the manner in which examinations and tests under this subsection are to be carried out.".
This is designed to give the Minister power to prescribe by regulation the manner in which examinations and tests are carried out under the subsection.
I am happy to advise the Deputy that his proposed insertion of the additional paragraph is unnecessary because there are adequate provisions under section 71 of the Factories Act. I appreciate the Deputy's intention but it is not necessary.
I move amendment No. 46:
In page 14, subsection (1), line 28, after "the Principal Act" to insert ", as amended by section 7 of this Act,".
This is a drafting section. The section relates to section 45 of the Factories Act 1955. It will be recalled that section 7 (b) of this Bill proposed to delete subsections (18) and (19) of section 45 of the 1955 Act. It will be more precise in this section to refer to section 45 of the 1955 Act as amended by section 15 of the Bill.
I move amendment No. 47:
In page 14, subsection (1), line 30, to delete "in" and substitute "from".
This amendment is merely a drafting one. Its purpose is to insert the correct preposition after the word "deleted".
I move amendment No. 47a:
In page 14, subsection (2) (a), line 40, after "committed" to add "except where the application was made within the preceding 7 days".
I can imagine the situation where an accident happens, someone quickly makes an application and is exempt from prosecution and is covered by this subsection. It would be reasonable to add "except where the application was made within the preceding 7 days".
What the Deputy has just said seems to conflict with our interpretation of this amendment. It would be unreal to expect that an application submitted after the fire or the event took place would be acceptable. I do not believe a prosecution should be taken under this section, once the application for a certificate concerning the means of escape in case of fire has actually been made. Perhaps there is no difference between us here. It is the aim of the legislation to require the occupier to make that application. Where he has made the application that should be sufficient to satisfy the requirements placed on him by the legislation. The question of precisely when the application was made by him is not relevant. Should it so happen that he thinks his premises might possibly be inspected by an inspector within seven days and this possibility causes him to send off his application, so much the better; the threatened or expected visit of the inspector has prompted him to do something. The important thing is that he has been motivated to comply with the requirement, to have applied for a certificate. I see no good reason to make compliance an offence, even if the motive for compliance is selfpreservation. There is also the consideration that there might conceivably be some quite legitimate grounds for the occupier having made the application in the preceding seven days—for example, in the case of a newly opened factory. In view of the foregoing, I am not persuaded to concede the Deputy's amendment.
There may be a loophole here and we should be closing loopholes, where possible. The paragraph reads:
Provided that where an application has been made for a certificate under this section, then for so long, but only for so long, as the certificate is neither given, refused nor deemed under subsection (3A) of this section to have been refused an offence by reason of the occupier not having in force any certificate shall be deemed not to be committed.
That reads to me as if a person might immediately apply, after an accident, for a certificate and so long as that application was extant, or not decided upon, he was covered, even though the offence occurred before the application was made. The Minister might look at this again to see if there is a loophole.
The Deputy should be reassured that there is no loophole in that respect. If, however, he would be happier, I have no objection to being absolutely sure that there is no loophole on Report Stage. However, the Deputy can take it that there is no loophole there. This is in relation to the inspection situation, rather than the accident situation.
I move amendment No. 48:
In page 15, subsection (4), line 16, to delete "such period" and substitute "period of six months or in every such shorter period".
The purpose of this amendment is to provide for a minimum twice yearly examination and testing by a competent person of the means of giving warning in case of fire in advance of any regulations being made about more frequent examination and testing in cases where it would be appropriate to have these undertaken more often than twice a year.
Amendment No. 49 proposes a new section which would delete section 23. If this amendment is accepted, amendment No. 49a cannot arise.
I move amendment No. 49:
In page 15, before section 23, to insert the following section:
23.—The following section is hereby substituted for section 48 of the Principal Act:
`48.—(1) Effective steps shall be taken to ensure that all persons employed in a factory are familiar with the means of escape in case of fire and its use and with the routine to be followed in case of fire.
(2) Fire drill, that is to say the procedure to be followed in evacuating premises in case there is an outbreak of fire or another emergency, shall be held in every factory—
(a) in case there is for the time being in force in relation to the factory a notice under this section, in accordance with the notice,
(b) in any other case, at least every six months,
and in addition to the foregoing fire drill held in pursuance of this section shall, in relation to a factory as regards which the manner in which it is to be carried out is not for the time being specified in such a notice, be held throughout the factory at the same time.
(3) (a) The Minister may by a notice in writing served on the occupier of a factory require fire drill, that is to say the procedure referred to in subsection (2) of this section, to be held in the factory at such intervals or in such circumstances or manner as may be specified in the notice.
(b) A notice under this subsection shall remain in force until it is withdrawn by the Minister by a further notice in writing served on the occupier concerned.
(4) A record containing the prescribed particulars shall be kept of fire drill held in pursuance of this section and such record shall be attached to the general register.' ".
This amendment arises again out of discussions with interested parties which took place between Second Stage and Committee Stage. The easiest way to accommodate the points raised by the ICTU and the IEC was to delete the existing section and substitute a new one for it. This new section will meet the points raised in the following way: the provision concerning familiarity with the means of escape in case of fire and fire drill will now apply to all factories, as opposed to those where more than 20 persons are employed, or buildings forming part of a factory containing explosives or highly imflammable materials. As a consequential amendment, subsection (3) of section 48 of the Factories Act, 1955 is deleted. Obligatory fire drill involving evacuation of the permises will have to take place every six months, as opposed to every two months, which was considered excessive. Fire drill, where continuous or similar processes are concerned, will take place in accordance with the terms of the notice from the Minister served on the occupier concerned, in cases where such a notice is in force. The existing provision about records of fire drill has, of course, been retained.
The main purpose of my amendment No. 49a, which is being discussed in conjunction with this, was to get away from the idea of having fire drill every two months, or every fixed period. In my experience as a fire marshal if you fix a day everybody is ready for the fire drill. It is unreal because when a fire occurs everybody will not be ready. The thing is not to have this fire drill at fixed intervals. Having an element of surprise in the fire drill is important because when a fire occurs there is always an element of surprise.
The amendment has not been moved, Deputy.
It can be moved at this stage and it cannot be moved if the new section is accepted.
I see. Deputy Mitchell's amendment would leave open the possibility that four times per calendar year could mean that it could happen four times in two successive days—morning, afternoon, morning, afternoon.
I acknowledge the difficulty. The Minister could say have a fire drill on 1 December and 1 May every year. The Minister has power to make regulations in that regard, has he not?
That is correct.
Perhaps he would make provision for my point that it not be a fixed day in the year.
I move amendment No. 50:
In page 16, subsection (1), line 2, to delete "(as extended and amended by sections 7 (a) and 22 of this Act)".
This again is a drafting amendment. What we are doing here is proposing a necessary deletion. Our intention is to bring section 24 into operation before section 7 (b) and section 22. The reference to 7 (a) is incorrect. Further, where operative, section 7 (b) and section 22 will apply to section 24. This is merely a drafting amendment to tidy up the cross-reference.
I move amendment No. 51:
In page 16, subsection (1), line 11, to delete "(a)" and substitute "(b)".
Again this is a drafting amendment, the purpose being to insert the correct reference to paragraph (b) of section 7. The incorrect reference occurs also on line 2 of subsection (1) of this section but is included in the phrase which has been deleted by the first amendment I have moved in this section.
I move amendment No. 53:
In page 16, subsection (1), line 50, to delete "messroom, washroom and cloakroom" and substitute "washroom and sanitary convenience provided in pursuance of section 17 of the Principal Act and accommodation provided in pursuance of either section 15 of this Act or section 54 of the Principal Act".
The subsection requires rain or any other wet or damp to be excluded from certain places in any premises. The purpose of the amendment is to extend the list of those places to include toilets and accommodation for taking meals and for clothing.
I move amendment No. 53a:
In page 17, line 41, after "premises" to insert "at any given time".
The subsection would now read:
Subject to subsection (4) (a) of this section the Minister may, as regards factories and specified premises generally or factories and specified premises of a prescribed class or description, make regulations requiring that suitable means be provided to alert the local fire brigade in the case of an outbreak of fire and that an adequate number of persons employed at the factory or other premises at any given time are familiar with its use.
The intention is to provide that some of those qualified would always be present as long as there was work going on. There would be no use in having all the trained fire-fighters in the early shift if a fire occurred during the late shift.
The point made by the Deputy is implicit in section 27 (3) as drafted at present but I shall have the subsection examined further between now and Report Stage to see if I might then move an amendment designed to make more obvious what is already implicit in the subsection. That should meet the Deputy's point.
I move amendment No. 53 (b):
In page 17, lines 49 to 53, to delete subsection (5).
This is in line with what I have been doing elsewhere in my amendments. I am seeking to take away this discretion as far as possible so that we shall close loopholes. The subsection reads:
Subject to subsection 4 (a) of this section, the Minister may by regulations provide for the exemption from the requirements of subsection (1) of this section of any prescribed class or description of factory and specified premises or place either absolutely or subject to conditions.
On reflection, I think the subsection is reasonable enough and I do not press the amendment.
Deputy Mitchell has three amendments down and the Minister proposes to delete section 28 altogether. The Chair suggests that we discuss the section and the amendments without moving them.
Section 28 concerns itself with any asphyxiant or any other substance which is a toxic, corrosive or highly flammable substance. The provisions of section 28 were included in the text of the Safety in Industry Bill because at the time it was being prepared the Dangerous Substances-Act, 1972, had not been brought into force. I am now in a position to propose the deletion of section 28 of this Bill given that the steps I took some months ago by way of bringing forward amending legislation enabled the Dangerous Substances Act to be brought into operation and in that connection paved the way for the promotion of appropriate measures concerning dangerous substances.
Agreed to delete section.
I move amendment No. 54:
In page 19, paragraph (b), line 22, after "training" to insert ", and section 32 (1) of this Act (inserted by section 17 of the Safety in Industry Act, 1979) shall be construed and have effect subject to the provisions of this subsection".
The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the provision of subsection (7A) which prohibits a person under 18 from operating a lifting machine driven by mechanical power unless that person is under adequate supervision for training purposes will not conflict with the provisions of section 17 concerning training and supervision of persons working at machines.
I move amendment No. 55:
In page 19, paragraph (b), line 24, to insert ", other than a lifting machine which is a computerised stacking machine or a lifting machine which is similar to a computerised stacking machine and which, in either case is remotely and automatically controlled in relation to an automatic loading, unloading or transporting process," after "power".
This amendment arose out of discussions with interested bodies that took place between the two Stages of the Bill. It was put forward by the Employers' Confederation that automatic warehousing systems should be exempted from the section as regards visibility and signals since the lifting of loads by such systems would be remotely controlled and employees would not therefore be directly involved in the operation.
I move amendment No. 55a:
In page 20, between lines 45 and 46, to insert the following:
"(iii) It shall be of suitable and safe material, and shall be subject to regular examination by a competent person, whose qualifications will be laid down by the Minister.'.".