Occupational health and safety laws are essential for protecting your employees, customers and the wider public from workplace dangers. In 2019, 9,335 non-fatal injuries were reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), with 47 fatal work-related accidents recorded in the same year, an increase from 2018’s record-low figure of 39. However, the HSA did find that the amount of work-related injuries recorded for 2018 was below the five-year average. The CSO‘s Labour Force Survey module data found that 620,800 days were lost due to work-related injuries in 2018, down from the five-year average of 709,544. In addition, 822,300 days were lost due to work-related illnesses, a figure lower than the five-year average of 938,521. To continue lowering and preventing workplace injuries and fatalities, your organisation must adhere to vital health and safety legislation that applies to your industry. Implementing an occupational health and safety management system that meets internationally recognised ISO 45001 standard can help your business ensure compliance with workplace health and safety regulations.
Essential health and safety legislation
Health and safety legislation protects employees, customers and the public from workplace dangers. It is important that you understand your legal responsibilities as an employer. Key workplace health and safety legislation includes:
- Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (SHWWA) – the act covers areas such as general employer’s duties, protective and preventive measures, regulations, codes of practice and enforcement.
- Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 – these regulations provide detailed health and safety information for employers. These range from regulations about doors and gates, room temperature, and changing rooms and lockers. It covers work equipment, PPE, and display screen equipment.
- Chemicals Acts 2008 and 2010 – acts responsible for enforcing EU chemical regulations in Ireland.
Additional health and safety legislation for Ireland includes:
- Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
- Safety, Health, and Welfare (Offshore Installations) Act 1987
- Safety in Industry Act 1980
- Dangerous Substances Act 1972
- European Communities Act 1972
- Factories Act 1955
- Other health and safety Codes of Practice
Employer’s responsibilities for occupational health and safety
The SHWWA 2005 outlines your general duties as an employer, including:
- Conducting everyday work activities that ensure the safety of your employees.
- Preventing improper conduct or behaviour in the workplace that could put an employee at risk.
- Providing relevant information, instructions, and training to your employees, so they have adequate knowledge of your organisation’s health and safety policies.
- Determining if new or additional measures are required to further safeguard employees.
- Reporting accidents and dangerous incidents to the relevant authority.
- Implementing necessary measures when potential hazards are identified and completing a corresponding risk assessment.
Why health and safety at work is important
Improving your occupational health and safety standards – such as through the use of an ISO 45001 certified occupational health and safety management system – can have several benefits in addition to controlling the risk of harm to staff.
Complying with health and safety laws
Complying with current regulations means your organisation can avoid hefty penalties. This means keeping your health and safety standards under constant review and improving where needed. This helps your organisation prepare for a health and safety audit. HSA inspectors complete annual health and safety compliance audits to check organisations are adhering to health and safety laws. Failure to comply with the SHWWA 2005 legislation may result in an improvement or prohibition notice. Serious breaches may incur legal action, which may result in fines or prison sentences.
Implementing an occupational health and safety management system could reduce business insurance premiums and any potential compensation claims as a result of workplace accidents. Actively investing in protective measures, equipment, and training could reduce costs for your organisation in the long run, as you’ve invested in ensuring that your health and safety management systems are updated and adequate for your business needs. Additionally, decreasing employee absentee rates can increase overall productivity and reduce costs associated with downtime, wastage and less efficient operations.
Read our guide on how to reduce your energy costs with ISO 50001.
Boost employee morale
Showing that your business cares about employee welfare can positively impact the overall morale and safety culture within an organisation. Employee morale can be enhanced if staff understand how your organisation actively takes steps to protect health and safety.
Boosted business reputation
Poor health and safety standards may result in high absentee rates and legislative breaches, such as action by authorities or legal claims made by employees who have been harmed. These incidents may damage your organisation’s image and reputation with customers and result in lost business. On the other hand, your organisation can enhance its reputation with proactive occupational health and safety measures. Your organisation’s reputation could increase further if you gain certification in occupational health and safety standards such as ISO 45001. Some large corporations and government bodies require certification in ISO 45001 to apply for a business tender or contract.
ISO 45001 certification can help you achieve an internationally-recognised standard in occupational health and safety. We offer a globally recognised ISO 45001 certification. ISO 45001 shows that your organisation has a robust and effective occupational health and safety management system in place that can:
- Deploy appropriate measures that improve your organisation’s health and safety performance.
- Minimise the likelihood of risks occurring in the workplace.
- Identify existing or potential hazards and act on them swiftly with appropriate measures.
- Reduce employee absentee rates.
Our expert assessors will help your organisation audit your occupational health and safety management systems to determine whether it meets the required standards for ISO 45001 certification. Contact our team for a free, no-obligation quote that matches your occupational health and safety requirements.