Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Health and Safety Authority

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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579. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if additional resources, that is, staff and funding will be needed for the Health and Safety Authority with respect to the reopening of businesses as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted; if so, the exact number of staff and additional funding that will required; the number of full and part-time staff employed in the HSA in each of the years 2016 to 2019 and to date in 2020, by staff according to civil service grade and other staff; and the breakdown of funding allocated to the HSA in each of the years 2016 to 2020, in tabular form. [5997/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, I launched the national “Return to Work Safely Protocol” Saturday, 9 May 2020.

From 2016 to date the HSA has had about 100 inspectors in the grade. Some of these are involved in the management and scheduling of inspections, and others are involved in carrying out a range statutory activity including market surveillance of products (including PPE) and chemicals and investigations into workplace fatalities and accidents, so not all of these inspectors can be deployed in the field at the same time. However, the HSA is currently deploying all its available inspectors across sectors to carry out both spot checks and other inspections to check compliance with the Protocol.  The HSA inspectorate will be supplemented significantly by deploying other inspectors from across the system who already have an environmental health, agriculture or other workplace/business inspection responsibilities.  While details such as Service Level Agreements etc. are currently being finalised, I can say that the numbers of additional resources working with the HSA will be in the hundreds, from across the system.  These will be specialist officials who already have sectoral business inspection or monitoring responsibilities.  Compliance with the Covid Return to Work Safely Protocol will become part of their normal inspection regime.  It will start shortly with some 200 or so officers from the Environmental Health Service, and this number will increase steadily as officials from other parts of the system, with varying sectoral inspection and oversight responsibilities are brought on board, in line with the Government Roadmap.  I can assure you that the Government will not be found wanting in resourcing this important work.

As we have seen with the general public health measures over the past two months, most people are complying with the rules. We can expect the same from employers and workers, most of who want to get back to work, and want the workplace to be safe, for them and for the families that they are returning to in the evenings.

I am expecting employers and workers, in line with what is set out in the Protocol, to actively and jointly take responsibility for applying the clear measures set out in the Protocol, for the health and safety of all concerned.

Even with the enhanced cohort of inspectors available to the HSA, they cannot be expected to go into every business in the country. That would be entirely unrealistic and unachievable. What they will do is a mix of unannounced inspections, along with providing advice and information through the HSA Workplace Contact Unit email and phoneline. wcu@hsa.ieand Tel: 1890 289 389.

Information on the current resources of the Health and Safety Authority is attached in tabular form.

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