Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (210)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

214 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34670/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 makes provision for the safety, health and welfare of persons at work, for the enforcement of the statutory provisions and the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. The Act imposes duties on employers, employees, and persons in control of places of work as well as general duties on designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers or articles and substances. For any employer who undertakes work activity it is that employer's responsibility to ensure that they have a safety statement and risk assessment that addresses the relevant risks associated with their work.

Within the Act protective and preventative measures are identified. These are central to the proper management of health and safety to protect employees at their place of work. Section 19 of the Act requires every employer to identify the hazards in the place of work under his or her control, assess the risks presented by those hazards and to document this process in a written risk assessment. Under Section 20 of the Act every employer must prepare or cause to be prepared a Safety Statement based on the risk assessment carried out under Section 19 and specifying the manner in which the safety, health and welfare of his or her employees is to be secured and managed. In relation to occupational health and safety, the legislation applies to all work enterprises and includes the self-employed.

Under the aforementioned 2005 Act, the Health and Safety Authority has a range of functions relating to occupational health and safety. In delivering its statutory mandate, the Authority has prioritised those sectors which are known to be the highest risk to employee safety and health. This risk based approach to its interventions is targeted to ensure that the standard of health and safety management is improved and appropriate controls implemented in these high risk sectors. In addition, the Authority also prioritises serious occupational accidents for investigation, and all occupationally related complaints are addressed.

The relevant economic sector relating to the management of apartment complexes is that of ‘Real Estate' (NACE Code: L). An assessment of the accident and injury statistics for this economic sector as published in the Authority's "Summary of Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics 2010-2011" indicated the following:

The Real Estate Sector has the second lowest rate of injury resulting in any days lost, and the second lowest illness rate per 1,000 workers based on the most recent CSO figures (2010).

There is a duty on employers to report workplace injury which results in an employee being unable to perform their normal work for more than three consecutive days. In 2011 the Authority received 6,956 such notifications, of these less than 0.1% related to the Real Estate Sector.

An analysis of the fatal accident incidents from 2008-2011 shows that there were no fatalities recorded within this sector.

On this basis the work activity associated with the management of real estate cannot be assessed as high risk. In fact, the statistics would indicate that the sector is one of the lowest risk sectors and has not therefore been prioritised for proactive inspection within the Authority's programme of work. However, the Authority also carries out "reactive" interventions based on accident notification or receipt of complaints. In 2011, the Authority received 37 such complaint contacts relating to employers involved in the management of real estate, all of which were addressed. In addressing these complaints the Authority had to engage with 24 employers through inspection or investigation. In this limited degree of interaction, 65% of employers had prepared a Safety Statement as required and 92% of the employers were aware of their duties under the legislation.

In conclusion, I should stress that it is for employers, employees and those in control of workplaces in the first instance to ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy for all workers. The Health and Safety Authority provides advice and assistance to all involved in workplace health and safety to help them meet their obligations. The Authority also undertakes investigations and enforcement actions where appropriate. If the Deputy has concerns regarding the health and safety aspect of any workplace, he or any constituent can make a complaint to the Authority's Workplace Contact Unit (tel: 1890 289 389, email: wcu@hsa.ie) and the Authority will examine the issues raised and determine the appropriateness of follow-up action.