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Health and Safety in the Workplace

30 June 2023

Effective Health and Safety management in the workplace is an important element of every organisation. Every year, accidents at work cost the Irish industry billions of euros. The effects of the injuries sustained vary from minor to major injuries. In some cases, employees will be needing an extended period of time off work. In other cases they will never be able to work again. Unfortunately, in some cases they will receive injuries that would be fatal. The fact is, many of these accidents are avoidable and should have not happened.

Much of Health and Safety relies on ensuring that the appropriate risk precautions are in place. Additional information about workplace hazards are available in our blog entry from 21 April 2023 Workplace Accidents and Their Prevention. If individuals are aware of potential hazards and adopt safe working practices, they can control the risks and reduce the number of accidents and injuries.


Workplace Fatalities from 2017 to 2022

The work-related injuries include any injuries incurred by workers in the course of their work. These injuries can range from minor injuries to the most serious injuries that resulted in death. According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Health and Safety Statistics they publish, the following is workplace fatalities statistics for years 2017 – 2022:

  • 2017 – 47 fatalities.
  • 2018 – 39 fatalities.
  • 2019 – 48 fatalities.
  • 2020 – 54 fatalities.
  • 2021 – 38 fatalities.
  • 2022 – 26 fatalities.

There have been 230 fatalities in Ireland since 2017.

Health and Safety in the workplace is an important aspect of any organisation. All work related fatalities are preventable through vigilance and effective Health and Safety management. All employees and persons affected by business activities deserve to go home after their work day has ended.


Common Causes of Accidents in the Workplace

Whilst not all workplace accidents result in death, the majority of them will result in an injury. Common causes of accident in the workplace are often:

  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Poor lifting and carrying.
  • Being struck by vehicles or moving objects.
  • Falls from height.
  • Misuse of machinery.
  • Incorrect use of harmful substances.

Work related activities can also be responsible for diseases and ill health. These, in some cases, can have long term, irreversible effects. For example:

  • Hearing loss from noisy workplaces.
  • Stress
  • Skin disorders.
  • Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
  • Back pain.
  • Asbestosis and cancer as a result of asbestos exposure.
  • Work-related lung diseases and cancers.

These hazards can be controlled by assessing risks and putting in effective controls. Effective health and Safety practices will not only minimise the pain and personal consequences to individual employees, but also reduce the financial impact on employers and services funded by the taxpayer.


Business and Human Costs of Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace

The costs on the business for ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace can be significant:

  • Legal advice and insurance costs.
  • Legal action, possibly resulting in compensation.
  • Sick pay.
  • Lost production and sales.
  • Equipment and stock losses and damage.
  • Time and money spent on investigations and improvements.
  • Recruitment and payment of cover/replacement staff.

These, however, can fade into insignificance when weighed against the human cost:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Disability, possibly long-term.
  • Health care and rehabilitation.
  • Loss of earnings.
  • emotional and financial burden on family.
  • Potential loss of life.

Safe working conditions are a prerequisite for a healthy and productive workforce.


Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace – From the Press

The Health and Safety Authority reported on 26th June 2023 that the company was fined €750,000 after fatal fall from height in workplace. The fatal incident occurred when a worker stepped onto a fragile surface. The fragile surface that sealed a vertical service duct which gave way and the worker fell from a height.

Mark Cullen, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, commented, “Where there is a known risk in a workplace, in this case working from height, employers in control of that workplace have a duty to ensure that the appropriate precautions are in place. This will protect employees and others who may be carrying out work activity at the place of work under their control. Failure by the employer in this case has led to the tragic death of a worker. We urge employers to carry out risk assessments and engage with their employees and others to ensure that incidents like this one are prevented.


Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email