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2021 appears determined to continue what 2020 started . There is however some reason to hope that the most immediate pressing concern for all of us may become more manageable in our society and our workplaces. With that in mind it is useful to look at the more normal drivers of injuries and deaths in our workplaces. The Health and Safety Authority recently released its analysis of the causes of injury and it may be found here. Key takeaways include the continued danger which more "normal" mundane tasks pose in the workplace. Manual handling and slips trips and falls continue to be the two biggest drivers of workplace accidents (29% and 24% respectively). Continued focus on the fundamentals within all workplaces seems not only to be required but also to be the most rewarding. The Health and Safety Authority's Biological Agent Code of Practice has also been updated to take account of Covid 19 and may be found here. This code of practice applies to activities in a place of work where exposure to a biological agent may occur and therefore has applicability to all workplaces in the current environment. The Health and Safety Authority has created a number of resources and tools to aid employers in the management of Covid 19 within their workplaces. These may be found at this link. In standards news the wiring guidelines were introduced in March 2020. A series of informative webinars have been prepared by Safe Electric and may be viewed on their Youtube page. These are mainly focused at contractors and electrical designers but they provide useful information for those commissioning maintenance, refurbishment or upgrade works on electrical installations.

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Mar 30, 2020 Egan Safety Solutions (0)

COVID 19 has placed unprecedented stress on employers, employees and those attempting to manage safety. Given the nature of the pandemic and the speed at which it is evolving responding is more similar to dealing with an emergency than normal hazards within the workplace. Initially all employers must consider how their current work practices align with the restrictions which are advised. Each employer will need to revise all risk assessments and SOPs to incorporate the risk posed by COVID-19 and to reflect public health guidance. These risk assessments will need to consider the following control measures:

  • The removal from the workplace of as many non-essential personnel as possible.
  • The consideration of measures necessary within the workplace to adhere to social distancing.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures necessary to ensure that contact points are cleaned on a more frequent basis and the recording of same.
  • The implications that complying with HSE guidance may have on other hazards present within the workplace and the means by which these will need to be managed during this period. Such hazards may include
    • Increased potential for lone working (social distancing and reduced numbers in the workplace)
    • Provision of first aid ( How this is to be done, measures if a person becomes symptomatic at work)
    • Transport within the workplace or to the workplace ( use of park and ride facilities, use of communal work vehicles, employees ride sharing)
    • Provision of welfare ( toilets, portaloos, drying rooms etc..)
    • Staggering of breaks etc.
    • Areas where increased interaction is likely ( Smoking areas, water coolers etc..)
    • Management of contractors ( Revision of RAMS to take account of COVID-19, essential versus non-essential works, contractors gaining access to the site)
    • Manual handling  ( Reduced ability to carry out two person lifts, alternatives during this period)
The above list is by no means exhaustive and will vary significant depending on the nature of your workplace. The review of existing work practices in light of COVID 19 should be documented and communicated to those affected by the revised control measures. In arriving at control measures useful guidance is available on the Health and Safety Authorities website on dealing with Biological Agents . Where your employees are working from home there is also good advice available on what employers should do during this time.

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European Safety week commences on the 21st to the 25th of October. There are five broad topics being covered which include,

  1. Mental Health and Wellbeing in Construction
  2. Working Safely with Electricity
  3. Working Safely at Height
  4. Vehicle Risk & Safety in Lifting Operations
  5. Working Safely with Hazardous Substances

Take time next week to consider whether you are exposed to any of these hazards and to consider whether more could be done in your workplace.

More information is available at https://cif.ie/safety-week/

 

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In advance of storm Lorenzo which may strike Ireland this week it is worthwhile carrying out a review of "normal" activities in light of what are expected to be entirely abnormal weather conditions.

Areas which may be affected by this storm are likely to include,

  • Driving to, from and for work.
  • Movement of materials  stored externally and which may be affected by weather.
  • Areas of your work locations which are partially constructed and which may be affected by high winds.
  • The effect of interruptions on utilities to your business and in particular on safety critical aspects of your business.
  • Working in remote locations or areas which are elevated.  

Forecasts are preliminary at this point but the expected periods of high winds and rain are expected Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th. Most up to date forecasting can be found at https://www.met.ie/

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The Health and Safety Authority has announced that it is participating in a European-wide enforcement campaign to assess the presence of restricted chemicals in jewellery, glues and adhesives. The chemicals cadmium, nickel and lead are banned in jewellery while benzene, chloroform and toluene are banned in glues and adhesives. The campaign is part of an inspection drive led by the European Chemicals Agency. The aim is to ensure these consumer products comply with the REACH Regulation, which is designed to improve chemicals safety in the European Union. Inspectors from the Authority have been checking for the presence of restricted chemicals in jewellery articles, glues and adhesives sold on the Irish market. Yvonne Mullooly, Senior Inspector with the HSA said: “This campaign involves checking jewellery, glues and adhesives to see if these banned chemicals are present. Importers, manufacturers and distributors of jewellery and glue products should already be aware of the legal requirements within the REACH Regulation and retailers selling such products should check with their suppliers to ensure their existing stock is compliant. All non-compliant stock should be removed from the shelves.” Importers, distributors and retailers are encouraged to check the weekly EU RAPEX alert system which identifies the list of goods found to be not compliant with EU requirements. For more information on REACH restricted chemicals see the HSA website at http://www.hsa.ie/eng/Your_Industry/Chemicals/Legislation_Enforcement/REACH/Restriction/

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Expert knowledge around farm safety and health was shared with agricultural workers during an event hosted and funded by IOSH Ireland Branch and its Rural Industries Section. More than 120 people gathered at Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co Galway, to hear advice from industry leaders and watch live demonstrations of best practice around a variety of common agricultural tasks. Hints and tips on the correct use of chainsaws and tractors, as well as livestock management, farm building maintenance and slurry safety, were all offered up by experts from the college, Teagasc, Coillte, Height for Hire and IOSH. The event also included an interesting and poignant input on farm safety by Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). IOSH Ireland Branch Chair, Liam Howe, too spoke about the necessity of ‘cultural change’ and ‘state of mind’ positioning, leading to behaviour change in the farming workplace. Liam said: “The practical demonstrations aimed to provide workers with useful knowledge that they could take away and apply back on their farms. “We also wanted to get them thinking about what they could do to promote occupational safety and health more widely among their communities.” The event on 16 November was the second of its kind to be staged by the branch and Rural Industries Section. They previously worked with IOSH Northern Ireland Branch to put on a similar event in 2015 at Teagasc’s Ballyhaise Agricultural College, in Co Cavan. It is part of a concerted effort by IOSH’s branches in Ireland and Northern Ireland to promote farm and farmer safety, and support the work being done around the issue by both the HSA and Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI). IOSH would like to thank Teagasc, Mountbellew Agricultural College and its Principal Tom Burke for the use of the college’s facilities and staff on the day. Caption: One of the farm and farmer safety demonstrations staged during the IOSH event at Mountbellew Agricultural College.

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Minister Nash launches Health and Safety Authority “Strategy Statement 2016-18”


Wednesday 27th January

  • Increased focus on work-related health risks
  • Safe use of chemicals in the workplace and by the general public a key goal
  • Continued prioritisation of high risk farming and construction sectors
Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash TD, this morning (Wednesday 27th January) launched the Health and Safety Authority’s new Strategy Statement 2016-18. The new strategy focuses on ensuring that workers and those affected by work activity return home safely and that everyone is protected from the harmful effects of chemicals. The strategic priorities for 2016-18 are: Health: Increase the focus on work-related health risks. Safety: Maintain and develop the advances achieved in the management of work-related safety risks. Chemicals: Focus on the risks to human safety and health arising from chemicals used at work and by the general public. Accreditation: Provide an impartial, internationally recognised accreditation service, responsive to market demands through the Irish National Accreditation Board. How We Work: Continue to change and transform the way we work. Launching the strategy, Minister Nash said, “Every worker in the country is entitled to a safe and healthy place of work and to return home to their families safe and well. We’re now in a phase of strong economic growth, businesses are rapidly expanding and new jobs are being created on a daily basis. It’s vital that we continue to prioritise the safety and health of all workers in a way that promotes business growth, aids competitiveness and protects workers. A safe and healthy workforce is an essential component of any successful enterprise. “I particularly welcome the Authority’s focus on small and medium-sized businesses. These businesses, the backbone of the economy, need simple tools and guidance that will help them effectively manage workplace safety and health. The Authority has been at the forefront in meeting this challenge with the introduction of, for example, its free e-learning portal and BeSMART online tool. This is the type of innovation that makes a difference and helps enterprises in a very practical way.” Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said, “Our strategy has been developed for a period where we expect to see the continued recovery of industry sectors that were badly affected by the recession. It’s important that this recovery is not jeopardised by poor standards of workplace safety and health. We will continue to work with all our partners and stakeholders to support economic growth, meet our goals and deliver effective use of our resources.” Michael Horgan, Chairman of the Health and Safety Authority said, “A strong focus on innovation and the optimal use of State resources was a key factor in the development of this strategy. The concept of the Authority working smarter was a cornerstone of the Board’s contribution to the strategic planning process. I’m confident that this strategy lays a strong foundation for a more agile organisation that will help in the achievement of our noble purpose of healthy, safe and productive lives.” Download the report here >>

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55 People killed in work-related accidents in 2015

Agriculture fatalities down by 40% Figures released by the Health and Safety Authority today (Wednesday 6th January) show that 55 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2015. This is exactly the same number of fatalities that occurred in 2014. Fatalities in agriculture were down by 40%, with 18 deaths reported compared to 30 in 2014. However, construction fatalities increased from eight in 2014 to 11 in 2015 and the fishing sector also saw an increase from one in 2014 to five in 2015. Incidents involving vehicles were the main cause of fatal accidents in the workplace, accounting for 21 of the total. Fifteen people were killed as a result of falls from height, the second most common cause of death. Two-thirds of work-related deaths (37 of 55) occurred in businesses with fewer than 10 employees, mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing. There were four child fatalities in 2015, all of which occurred in agriculture. The county with the highest number of fatalities in 2015 was Cork with 10 reported, followed by Donegal with six. Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016: “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change. There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.” Brian Higgisson said that along with the agriculture and construction sectors, there will also be an emphasis on work-related health risks in 2016: “We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016.” Click here for a full breakdown of fatalities by sector and county.

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