Hayes highlights cost to State of unsafe workplaces

Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 01:00

THERE WERE “extraordinary costs’’ for the State associated with poor safety practices at work, Minister of State for Finance Brian Hayes told the Dáil.

“I refer to the terrible and horrendous injuries that can be caused to workers in the course of their duties,’’ he said. “The State must pick up the tab for this.’’ Mr Hayes said a working group would report on the matter by the end of the year. He noted next Saturday was an international day of action for safety and health at work.

“It is a memorial day the Government wishes to be associated with and I understand the Health and Safety Authority will be involved in marking the day here in Ireland,’’ he added.

The Minister was replying, on behalf of Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, to Sinn Féin TDs Jonathan O’Brien and Dessie Ellis.nMr O’Brien said the previous government had published the heads of a Bill that sought to introduce two new offences in that area.

One related to corporate manslaughter, while the other dealt with management causing death.

Mr O’Brien said Ireland was one of the few remaining EU countries that did not have legislation covering corporate manslaughter.

Mr Ellis said figures for workplace fatalities were increasing, despite construction figures being at an all-time low. So far this year, 14 people had died in the workplace.

“It should be worrying for workers and their families, trade unions, employers and the Government that unsafe practices have increased despite the economic climate,’’ he added.

Mr Ellis said that more stringent health and safety regulations were long overdue. “It is not unreasonable to assume that some employers may take a cost-benefit approach to the implementation of health and safety requirements in the workplace,’’ he added.