Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, the Health and Safety Authority has overall responsibility for the administration, enforcement and promotion of occupational health and safety. The day to day function of the authority is to deal with matters arising from this responsibility.
While any workplace fatality is one too many, worker fatality rates have been steadily falling to the extent that the rate per 100,000 workers is now 45% lower than in 1995. Over the same period, there has been a reduction of 26% in the rate of claims for occupational injury benefit.
The authority's work programme for 2004 includes a wide range of actions to improve safety performance in the high risk sectors of construction, agriculture, mining and quarrying. The authority will be working closely with other bodies in these sectors such as the IFA, Teagasc, CIF, ICTU and IBEC to fulfil its role of encouraging and enabling best practice in occupational safety and health and, where necessary, enforcing compliance with the relevant legislation.
There is still a major challenge to reduce workplace accidents that lead to injuries and death. There are also responsibilities on the main participants in the workplace — the workers and employers. All parties must work together to make the workplace safer.