Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Questions (92)

Thomas P. Broughan


162 Mr. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position with regard to the consultation with the social partners on proposals to increase penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation, especially in view of the ongoing level of death and injury being caused to workers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3775/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

Legislative proposals to repeal and amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 have been developed at departmental level and are presently the subject of legal drafting by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. These proposals are largely the result of a review carried out by the tripartite board, representing the social partners, of the Health and Safety Authority which had been requested to carry out a fundamental review of the Act with a view to identifying where changes and improvements could be made to the existing principal legislation.

The consultations between officials of my Department and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel are ongoing and I expect to be in a position to introduce a safety, health and welfare at work Bill in April. I intend to consult the social partners before publication of the Bill.

I am aware of the concerns raised by various interests about the delay in publishing the Bill. However, I emphasise that legislative proposals involve a detailed revision of the current legislative framework dealing with occupational health and safety. A revised and updated Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, will further strengthen the legislative base for workplace safety and will be of benefit to all sectors of employment.

I can confirm to the House that I intend to provide in the new Bill for the imposition of on-the-spot fines for certain defined breaches of the health and safety code. There will also be provision for increased fines on conviction in the courts.