Tuesday, 20 October 2020
Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment
Health and Safety Authority
132. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment if the allocation of €4 million in budget 2021 for Health and Safety Authority pay is for pay restoration; if it is additional and new moneys; if so, the measures the funding will be used for; the number of additional HSA inspectors it will be used to take on; and the permanent standing HSA workforce expected after the funds have been used by grade group and category. [31292/20]
The additional budget allocation of €4m to the Health and Safety Authority is an additional pay allocation to increase the staff available to the Authority, including the recruitment of additional inspectors, to deliver on its mandate.
The 2021 funding being made available to the Health and Safety Authority will enable the Authority to assist businesses to comply with workplace health and safety obligations as well as assisting businesses to plan for a changed regulatory landscape post-Brexit especially in relation to chemical usage, product safety, market surveillance and accreditation.
The Health and Safety Authority will use the additional funding to establish a new Occupational Health Division to support occupational health responses to COVID-19. However, the determination of the potential number, grades and roles of new staff which can be best utilised with this additional funding is an operational matter, in the first instance, for the Health and Safety Authority.
Officials of my Department will discuss this further with the Health and Safety Authority to establish their preferences for the utilisation of the additional funding.
The establishment of an Occupational Health Division will ensure that the Health and Safety Authority will be in a stronger position to meet the demands being placed on it for increased inspections and to provide a suite of supports to businesses, workers and public health officials in the context of COVID-19. Any investment in a new Occupational Health Division would also represent a long-term investment by the State in worker health leading to a reduction in workplace injuries and absences which contributes, in turn, to an improvement in the productivity and competitiveness of Irish businesses and a reduction in the cost to the State of illness benefits.
While the Health and Safety Authority will continue to be to the forefront in helping employers and employees to deal with the challenges of COVID-19 in the workplace it is also important to bear in mind that other workplace health and safety risks across many sectors of the economy, including high-risk sectors of construction and farming, will remain a priority for the Health and Safety Authority.