THE HEALTH & SAFETY AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORT 2022 – A SUMMARY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION SECTORJanuary 2024
In mid-2023, the Health & Safety Authority (“HSA”) published its annual report for 2022 (the “Report”).
The HSA is the Irish statutory body responsible for ensuring protection from work-related injury and illness. As a regulator, the HSA monitors, inspects and enforces, and also promotes, advises, encourages, supports and educates. 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 high-risk construction sector, in enabling a pro-active approach to harm prevention. The Report is the first to issue under the HSA’s Strategy Statement 2022 – 2024 which sets out continued goals to promote, regulate and influence the culture of safety and health in the workplace.
The following points are of particular interest to employers in the construction sector seeking to address risk factors within their business and to ensure compliance in the event of an HSA inspection.
In 2022, 27 people were killed in work-related accidents. This compared to 38 in 2021 and represents the lowest figure since 1989. Of these, 7 occurred in the construction sector, a reduction on the 10 recorded in 2021.
INSPECTIONS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND STATISTICS
The HSA conducted 11,148 proactive and reactive inspections and investigations across all economic sectors throughout 2022, which represented a significant increase on 10,295 conducted in 2020 and 8,586 in 2021. Of the 11,148 inspections and investigations, 303 resulted in an improvement notice or direction, 343 in a prohibition notice and 7,462 in written advice being given to an employer. There were 16 prosecutions during 2022, resulting in fines totalling €1,268,250. One of the larger fines was imposed on an employer who failed to obtain an appropriate assessment and design from a geotechnical engineer prior to the construction of a temporary road in a high-risk area of peatland, so as to eliminate the risk of a landslide. A person suffered personal injury and death in the subsequent landslide.
POINTS OF NOTE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
- A construction safety inspection campaign was carried out in October and November 2022. The focus of the campaign was working at height. Over 500 inspections were carried out and over 430 written enforcements were issued by inspectors during the campaign. Over 50% of the written enforcements issued during the campaign related to issues of working at height, principally scaffolding and roof work. A summary of the campaign findings was communicated to the Construction Industry Federation.
- Two quarry safety campaigns were conducted. The first was in conjunction with the Irish Concrete Federation in March and focused on machinery safety. A total of 65 inspections were carried out and the main findings related to guarding and periodic checks on safety equipment. The second was held in October and focused on vehicle and pedestrian safety. There were 128 inspections carried out and the main findings related to traffic management plans and measures to segregate vehicles from pedestrians.
- A Standardised Risk Assessment and Method Statement and associated guidance documents for the construction industry were developed and approved by the Committee. This was launched at the Construction Industry Federation Summit in May.
- Information leaflets on silica dust were developed for employees and published online. The documents raise awareness about the hazards and appropriate controls measures for situations where silica dust may be generated.
- The HSA carried out a review of the duties of clients as set out in the Construction Regulations 2013. Current Irish legislative requirements impose a duty on clients to appoint in writing both a Project Supervisor Design Process and a Project Supervisor Construction Stage. This legislative requirement places a significant regulatory burden on many small scale construction projects and does not necessarily result in significant improvements in safety standards on sites. Amendments to the Construction Regulations are being considered to address this issue.
- Inspections were carried out on a selection of auction houses and machinery hire companies supplying construction and lifting machinery to the market. A total of 994 statutory reports of examination of machinery, pressure equipment and lifts were reviewed. 18% required follow up action.
Stakeholders continue to utilise the BeSMART online portal for business support and there were over 8,000 new registrations for this support tool during 2022.
The report highlights the continued effort of the HSA to develop its advisory offering and market surveillance programme, 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.Download PDF