Safety body warns on cutbacks
The Health and Safety Authority has written to Government warning that additional cutbacks at the agency will lead to “preventable increases in the number of deaths and serious accidents and illness in the workplace”.
The warning is contained in a letter sent by HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran to secretary general of the Department of Jobs and Enterprise John Murphy last week. It is a reply to a letter from Mr Murphy imposing a cap of 151 employees at the authority.
In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Irish Times, Mr O’Halloran said the authority and its staff were “devastated at the accelerated and additional cut in resources proposed”.
HSA chairman Michael Horgan has also sought an urgent meeting with Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton.
Mr O’Halloran argued the decision would have a serious impact on the work of the HSA at national and EU level, and would leave it unable to adequately represent the Irish chemical industry on EU competition issues. In an appendix, the HSA argued the proposals would mean its total workforce has been cut by 11 per cent this year.
“There is deep concern that the [HSA] has experienced disproportionate cuts relative to other agencies,” it is stated.
Fianna Fáil enterprise spokesman Dara Calleary said last night he would pursue the matter vigorously in the Dáil. “The HSA is not known for flights of fancy and it warns of increased risk of accidents and fatalities”.
A spokesman for the department said last night the HSA had an excellent record in recent years despite the reduction in resources, with workplace fatalities down in 2012 (to 47 from 51 in 2011).