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The Health & Safety Authority Annual Report 2021 – a summary for the construction sector

September 2022
Sarah Conroy and Conor Williams


In June 2022 the Health & Safety Authority (“HSA”) published its annual report for 2021 (“the Report”) to Damien English TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail.

The HSA is the Irish statutory body responsible for ensuring protection from work-related injury and illness. In its annual reports, the HSA analyses emerging trends in workplace safety and discusses the enforcement actions taken throughout the year. The Report acts as a useful guide for employers, especially those within the construction sector, which is deemed as “high-risk”, in enabling a pro-active approach to harm prevention.

The following points are of interest to employers seeking to address risk factors within their business to ensure compliance in the event of a HSA inspection and avoid the potential penalties that could follow.


The HSA worked with various Government departments and agencies in assisting enforcement of the Work Safely Protocol to assist in a graduate return to the workplace following lockdown. The HSA caried out 7,437 inspections to ensure compliance with the protocol across various sectors. An important aspect of this was the 377 inspections carried out in health and social care settings to assess the risk of Covid-19 exposure to staff. In addition, the HSA was made a designated body under the Indoor Dining Regulations, completing 2,402 inspections of premises with a focus on the system in place by operators to allow only those with EU Digital Covid Certificates entry indoors.


In 2021, 38 people were killed in work-related accidents. This compared to 53 in 2020 and represents the lowest figure since 1989. Of these, 10 occurred in the construction sector, a 38% reduction on the 16 recorded in 2020.


In 2021, the HSA completed 8,586 inspections and investigations, down from 10,295 in 2020. This continues the trend of falling numbers of inspections and investigations that has emerged even before Covid-19. Of this number, 246 resulted in an improvement notice or direction, 278 in a prohibition notice and 5,284 in written advice being given to an employer.  There were 18 prosecutions completed during the year, resulting in fines totalling €692,750. An example of an offence leading to of the largest fines was failure to ensure an employee possessed a Construction Skills Certification Card (CSCS) for Site Dumper Operation and failure to maintain plant and machinery to ensure that it was safe and without risk to health (€50,000).


Construction Sector

Throughout 2021, the HSA conducted 2,865 inspections or investigations into construction workplaces. There was a particular focus on inspections where employees were working from height, with 133 inspections, and investigations into manual handling training accreditations, with 33 investigations. The Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC), an advisory committee to the Board of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), also commenced development work on a new action plan for 2022 – 2024 which aims to reduce the level of fatalities, serious injuries and ill health in the sector.

Transport and Storage

668 inspections and investigations occurred with a focus on managing the risk associated with common transport operations, the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles and workplace traffic management.

Health and Social Care

446 inspections and investigations took place with a focus on actions taken to reduce the risk of occupational exposure to Covid-19, work-related violence and aggression, patient handling and slips, trips and falls.


Stakeholders continue to utilise the BeSMART online portal for business support and there are now 86,834 users with 8,762 new users registering throughout the year. The two largest groups of new users were classed as General Builders (846) and Project Supervisor Construction Stage (551), showing the continued interest of the construction sector in the resource. The platform assists business in completing Safety Statements and there were 3,463 Construction Sector Safety Statements completed in 2021. There were a further 838 Construction Safety And Health Plans completed.


The report highlights the continued efforted of the HSA to develop its advisory offering, alongside its traditional enforcement function. Employers could benefit from utilising these services to assess potential hazards and avoid workplace accidents, thus reducing their exposure to investigation.

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