Congress encourages workers to take on Health & Safety Rep Role

28 Nov 2017

Health & Safety Health & Safety

At the National Safety Representative Conference hosted by the Health & Safety Authority in Croke Park on 28 November 2017 over 250 delegates heard that worker participation is the key to safe and health workplaces, and that those organisations with active safety representatives tend to be safer and healthier places to work.

Frank Vaughan of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions welcomed the conference on behalf of Congress, saying:

“The evidence is clear that workplaces with active safety representatives, selected by the workers, are safer and healthier. Congress wants to encourage more people to take on the role in all sectors and to work constructively with employers to ensure that everyone gets home safe and well after their day’s work.”

Delegates heard that in 2015 an estimated 41,247 workers in Ireland suffered from a work-related illness and over 912,595 working days were lost.  The two largest categories of work-related illness are musculoskeletal disorders, and stress, anxiety and depression, which combined accounts for 68 per cent of work-related illnesses in Ireland.

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of HSA said: “Safe and healthy workplaces don’t just happen, they’re created through the commitment and dedication of workers and employers.

"Our inspectors see first-hand the difference an effective safety representative can make in any organisation. The best way to get workers to follow safe work procedures is to get them involved in the development and review of those procedures.

"If workers feel that their opinions are valued and considered, they are much more likely to follow the processes when they are being implemented."

He added: “In many workplaces, the focus has traditionally been on physical safety but with the growth in occupational illnesses there is a need to broaden that mind set and include the area of work-related illnesses.

"The Health and Safety Authority has lots of information and guidance to help.”