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Health and Safety Law for Employers

Businesses and organisations across Ireland have a duty to protect the health and safety of employees, visitors and members of the public from harm.  The Health and Safety Authority is the national body responsible for workplace health and safety.  It is their role to monitor employer’s compliance with health and safety legislation, and where necessary, instigate enforcement proceedings.

From an employer’s perspective, the obligation to ensure the health and safety of individuals can be overwhelming if not managed effectively.  Depending on your specific industry and business type, you may have a number of additional health and safety obligations with which you must remain compliant, e.g. if you deal with chemicals, biological agents, asbestos, electricity, explosives, fire, heat, farm machinery, and construction sites.

If you require guidance in relation to drafting new health and safety policies and procedures, a claim for workplace injury, or a breach of health and safety law, Lavelle Partners are well placed to assist you.  Because of our cross-disciplinary expertise, we can collaborate with Solicitors in other departments to provide you with legal advice and guidance which meets your full needs.  Our employment Solicitors may, depending on your case, liaise with our personal injury experts, commercial law team, our litigation and dispute resolution lawyers, or any other domain specialists as needed.

What are the main workplace health and safety laws in Ireland?

The primary legislation which underpins workplace health and safety is the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005.  Section 8 of this act states that employers have a duty to employees to prevent ill-health and injuries, by:

  • Providing and maintaining a safe workplace
  • Preventing risks from the use of any article or substance
  • Preventing risks from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Preventing improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk
  • Providing health and safety training
  • Ensuring the provision of appropriate protective clothing and equipment

Other workplace health and safety laws which apply include, the:

  • Chemicals Acts 2008 and 2010
  • Dangerous Substances Act 1979 and 1972
  • Factories Act 1955
  • Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
  • Safety in Industry Act 1980

What is a workplace risk assessment?

Employers of all types and size must routinely undertake risk assessments across all aspects of their business, including car parks, offices, vehicles, premises, and warehouses.  For every health and safety risk they identify, they must implement control and mitigation measures to eliminate the danger, or if this is not possible, mitigate it as much as possible.

In order to control health and safety risks, employers have at their disposal a wide range of strategies including, creating policies and procedures to be followed across the business, staff training, providing protective equipment (e.g. eyewear and ear defenders), safety guards on machines, using clear signage to warn and remind staff of known risks, and rotating staff between roles to avoid over-use injuries such as vibration white finger or carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Behaviour Based Safety (BBS)?

The Health and Safety Authority promote BBS as an approach to managing health and safety in the workplace.  BBS is designed to work from the bottom-up within any business or organisation; i.e. starting with front-line employees and working up.  BBS is rather similar to traditional organisational behaviour analysis, and involves one on one, or group observations of work activity to spot risks and recommend ways in which such risks can be mitigated.  BBS is intended to be highly proactive, and follows the Antecedent, Behaviour, Consequences model, to identify the stimulus or event (antecedent), such as guides, goal setting, policies, which influences employee behaviour, and the consequences which occur as a result (and reinforce the behaviour) such as feedback, rewards, and recognition.

How Lavelle’s workplace health and safety Solicitors can assist you

  • Our team of health and safety Solicitors, headed by Senior Partner, Marc Fitzgibbon, have been assisting employers for over 30 years in relation to health and safety at work matters, and as a result, has developed a strong and enviable reputation nationally for achieving excellence in this area of law.
  • Marc is a former member of the Law Society of Ireland’s Employment & Equality Law Committee and European Employment Lawyers Association.
  • Lavelle Partners employment law team collaborate with our other specialist law departments where necessary to ensure your best interests are protected.
  • We understand the need to ensure health and safety is managed and controlled in full accordance with employment legislation and best practice, thereby protecting your business or organisation from the threat of a claim or reputational damage.
  • Our Solicitors will work alongside your in-house or external HR team, ensuring that your health and safety needs are fully managed with the minimum of demands on your resources.
  • You can be assured all aspects of your organisational health and safety will be handled with the utmost of professionalism and confidentiality.

Our partnership with Talbot Pierce

Lavelle Partners work with Talbot Pierce to provide a seamless service in respect of Human Resource Management.  Talbot Pierce are a team of specialist HR professionals who work with us on a range of matters including advice on and delivery of conflict/dispute resolution solutions, best-practice HR strategies, policies and procedures.

For further information on workplace health and safety law in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800.

Please get in touch with one of our specialists