Health And Safety Authority Concerned Worker Safety Threatened By Budget Cuts
March 14, 2013 by Michael B. Stack
Budget and Staff Cuts Cause Serious Reservations
Citing a fear for the safety of many Irish workers, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions recently expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the capacity of the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) to deliver on its program of work, in the face of ongoing budget and staff cuts.
Esther Lynch, Congress Legal Affairs Officer and Health & Safety Authority board member, noted that recent financial cuts were eroding the Authority’s capacity to “undertake basic oversight of working conditions with workplace inspections falling from 16,000 to 13,700.” She called on Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation to reconsider the ongoing cuts.
Lynch was speaking ahead of last month’s launch of the Authority's Strategy Statement 2013-2015 and Program of Work, 2013-2015, by Minister Bruton.
Operating on ¾ of budget of 2008
According to Lynch, “The authority is now operating on ¾ of the budget it had in 2008 and more cuts are forecast. Staff numbers are already down from 197 (in 2008) to 170 and are due to fall to 155. Preventative unannounced inspections are key to safe and healthy workplaces, it should not take a fatality before the Authority turns up.
As Lynch pointed out, deaths normally dip in a recession as a result of reduced activity in the economy but there were 43 fatalities in 2009 compared to 54 in 2011 and 47 last year – despite reduced numbers at work.
“What these statistics don't show is the devastating loss to the families of these workers. They are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to work related deaths in Ireland,” Lynch continued. “Health and safety is not an unnecessary, regulatory burden. Both workers and industry benefit from strong regulation and enforcement which help keep fatalities, injuries and sickness absence rates down.”
The question now is, will Ireland’s politicians and safety officials heed the call to act before another major workplace injury or fatality?
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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