Dáil debates

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Other Questions

Health and Safety Regulations.

3:00 pm

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Question 98: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of deaths and injuries arising from workplace accidents generally and specifically in regard to the construction industry for 2006; the way these figures compare with 2003, 2004 and 2005; the figures for 2007 to date; the additional steps he will take to reduce such accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8322/07]

Photo of Tony KilleenTony Killeen (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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In 2006 there were 50 recorded fatalities in Ireland as a result of work-related accidents, compared to 74 work-related deaths in 2005, 50 in 2004 and 68 in 2003. There were 12 construction-related fatalities in 2006 compared to 23 in 2005, 16 in 2004 and 20 in 2003.

In the period 1 January to 5 March 2007, 19 workplace fatalities were reported to the Health and Safety Authority. These comprised one in agriculture, seven in fishing, two in mining and quarrying, six in construction, one in real estate renting and business activity and two in public administration and defence.

To date, a total of 7,935 non-fatal accidents, resulting in absence of more than three days from normal work, were reported to the authority across all sectors in 2006. Of these 1,685 were related to the construction sector. This compares with in 8,240 in 2005, of which 1,644 were in construction, with 8,461 in 2004, of which 1,501 were in construction, and with 7,177 in 2003, of which 1,108 were in construction. The level of accidents reported to the Health and Safety Authority, however, only shows part of the picture in regard to non-fatal accidents. For example, the most recent figures available from the Central Statistics Office quarterly national household surveys for 2003 and 2004 show non-fatal occupational accident numbers of 21,900, of which construction accounted for 5,300 in 2003 and 21,840, of which construction accounted for 5,820, in 2004. In the period 1 January to 1 March 2007, 723 non-fatal accidents were reported to the Health and Safety Authority, including 191 in construction.

There are more than 200,000 workplaces in Ireland and a total workforce of more than 2 million. In 2007, in order to make best use of its resources, the Health and Safety Authority is once again prioritising a number of sectors for attention. These include the high-risk sectors of construction, agriculture and mines and quarries, as well as the health services, local authorities and process industries. The focus in these sectors will include the publication of a code of practice relating to safety statements tailored to those employing three or fewer in the construction sector; the management of a promotion and training support programme following the distribution in late 2006 of the code of practice for the agriculture sector; the publication of a similar code of practice for the fishing sector; an extensive inspection programme targeting key risks; and an inspection and information programme which targets the public sector.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

To improve health and safety standards on construction sites and to ensure maximum benefit from the improved legislative basis provided in new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations which I introduced in 2006, as well as building on the successful seminars organised by the authority for the construction industry, the authority is committed in 2007 to carrying out a focused programme of 7,000 construction site inspections covering appointment of competent designers, project supervisors and contractors, safety and health plans and safety statements, work at heights, traffic management and reversing vehicle safety, welfare arrangements, and slips, trips and falls on a level; carrying out 100 inspections of designers concentrating on design risk assessments for work at a height and the provision of slip resistant floor surfaces; assisting designer professional bodies in the development of competence for their members; contributing to the implementation of the construction safety partnership plan; contributing to the implementation by FÁS of the Claritas recommendations on the Safe Pass and construction skills certification schemes; enforcing and providing information on the construction and work at height regulations; publishing and promoting a code of practice on safety statements for employers of three or fewer in construction; commencing research on the safety and health implications for non-English speaking workers in the sector; preparing draft guidance on construction-specific aspects of work at a height and progressing draft codes of practice on pre-cast construction, concrete anchors, scaffolding, underground services and roof work, and developing guidance on client best practice; developing safe system of work plans, SSWP, for local authorities, implementing a development plan for the SSWP, a new initiative aimed at simplifying the safety message for both English and non-English speakers; running a hard-hitting campaign to change attitudes to construction safety.