Written Answers. - Health and Safety Regulations.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

68 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of deaths and injuries reported during 2000 as a result of accidents in the construction industry; the number of deaths and injuries reported to date in 2001; the progress made to date in ensuring improved safety standards in the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7105/01]

Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, the national authority for occupational safety and health, known as the Health and Safety Authority, is the State body charged with overall responsibility for the administration, enforcement and promotion of workplace safety and health. Matters arising from this responsibility are, therefore, a day-to-day function of the authority.

Statistical information concerning the number of fatalities and injuries in any work sector is collected by the Health and Safety Authority and is therefore obtainable directly from the authority.

I have been informed by the authority that there were 23 construction-related fatalities in 2000, while two fatal accidents have been reported to the authority this year to date. The number of accidents in the construction sector, resulting in more than three days absence from work, reported to the Health and Safety Authority to date, for 2000, is 989.
The management of health and safety in all sectors of employment is based on the principles of legislation, enforcement, information and awareness-raising coupled with a partnership approach. There is a strong legislative base by which safety standards in the construction sector can be managed and this legislation is enforced in a pro-active manner by the Health and Safety Authority. The additional resources, both financial and staffing, which I have secured for the authority, are being put to good effect in the construction sector through targeted inspection, enforcement and awareness-raising activities.
However, both I and the authority are of the firm belief that for greater health and safety improvements to be brought about in the construction sector, a strong partnership approach – by all the parties at all levels in the sector – to the issue of safety must be adopted. This partnership approach was further developed and strengthened in 2000 in the context of the Construction Safety Partnership – CSP – which includes representatives of the CIF, ICTU and SIPTU.
The report of the CSP sets out a detailed three-year partnership plan to improve occupational safety, health and welfare standards in the construction industry, and the parties to the plan have made a number of wide-ranging commitments which they have undertaken to implement over that period of time.
The recommendations of the partnership plan cover measures to improve safety consultation and safety representation, safety training, introduction of safety management systems and increased inspection activity by the Health and Safety Authority. Work will continue throughout this year on implementing the recommendations of the plan and it is proposed to publish a report recording progress over the first year by the end of the first quarter of 2001.