Dáil Éireann - Volume 423 - 07 October, 1992
Written Answers. - EC Safety, Health and Welfare Legislation.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
444. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Labour if he will clarify the position that will arise after 31 December 1992 in respect of the application and administration of EC safety, Health and Welfare legislation with specific reference to EC Directive reference L393/2 Annex I and II; in particular, (1) whether he has a list of all the premises likely to come within the ambit of the European Community Directive (2) the way in which he can ensure that the enforcing of the requirements of either Annex I or II will not impose financial, legal and administrative constraints that could hold back the creation and development of small and medium size undertakings that would in themselves be contrary to Article 118a  of the Treaty of Rome (3) whether he has attempted to estimate the cost of compliance with the Directive (4) whether the cost to either the fire authorities or the Health and Safety Authority of administering the Directive has been established (5) if, in view of the fact that all places of work under the new Directive require that a risk assessment and emergency plan be prepared, provisions have been made by the Government to guarantee that: (a) the means for fire fighting including water supplies at the premises are adequate, (b) employers are sufficiently trained to take proper action in the workplace in case of fire and are familiar with the procedures to be followed in its evacuation in case of fire by them and by any other person present and (c) arrangements for calling for assistance of the fire brigade and informing them of any special risks have been made (6) the emergency plans, if any, which will be deemed adequate in small premises (7) whether it is envisaged that maintenance and construction work will be supervised and (8) the provisions, if any, which will be made to give an opportunity to aggrieved persons to have the right of appeal against any improvements of notices issued in connection with the proposed fire safety regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen): I presume that the Deputy is referring to Council Directive 89/654/EEC of 30 November 1989 concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace (commonly called the Workplace Directive), as published in the Official Journal No. L393 of 30 December 1989 which is due for implementation by member states by 31 December 1992.
The Health and Safety Authority is currently developing proposals for Regulations to give effect to that and several other EC Directives. I understand that the Authority is engaged in widespread consultation and discussions with a range of organisations and bodies in relation to its draft proposals and I expect to receive the Authority's proposals in respect of  the “Workplace” Directive during the coming months.
The Workplace Directive applies to all workplaces “intended to house workstations”, i.e. essentially to all buildings where work is carried out. Therefore workplaces which by their nature are not in buildings (i.e. means of transport used outside the undertaking, workplaces inside means of transport, temporary or mobile worksites, extractive industries, fishing boats, and in agriculture and forestry, fields, woods and other land situated away from the undertaking's buildings) are specifically excluded from the Directive's provisions. However, further specific Directives are being developed by the EC in respect of those areas.
The Workplace Directive as adopted by the EC Council is already based on the criteria set down in Article 118A of the EEC Treaty and the Directive states that the obligations laid down in the Annexes to it apply wherever required by the features of the workplace, the activity, the circumstances of a hazard. These are the criteria which will apply in the enforcement of the Directive.
All workplaces to which the “Workplace” Directive will apply are already subject to the general duties in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, and many of the Directive's requirements are implicitly required under the general provisions of that Act. In addition, all factory premises which are subject to the provisions of the Safety in Industry Acts, 1955 and 1980, as well as various Regulations made under those Acts, are already expected to comply with a substantial part of the Workplace Directive's requirements. Furthermore, those provisions of the Directive which relate to the general issue of fire safety are already substantially covered by existing legislation in the fire and building control areas.
A twofold approach is provided for in the Directive. As regards workplaces used for the first time after 31 December 1992, and workplaces which undergo modifications, extensions and/or conversions after that date the provisions of  Annex I of the Directive are to be applied. In the case of any workplace already in use before 1 January 1993, the provisions of Annex II of the Directive must be applied at the latest by 1 January 1996.
I understand that, in developing its proposals for Regulations to give effect to the Directive, the Authority may propose a slightly modified approach to take account of the current situation under our national law.
As far as the cost of enforcing the Directive's provisions are concerned, it should be noted that many of the requirements are already expected and achieved in workplaces under earlier legislation.
The preparation and revision as necessary of adequate plans to be followed in emergencies and the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision of workers as is necessary are already provided for in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, both in terms of the general duties and in the context of the Written Safety Statement required under the Act. I understand that further elaboration on those requirements is intended in the proposals for Regulations being developed by the Health and Safety Authority to give effect to the “New Framework” Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.
As regards the final part of the question, I would point out that legislative provision already exists under the Fire Services Act, 1981 whereby a person on whom a fire safety notice has been served may appeal to the District Court against it on prescribed grounds.
Dáil Éireann 423 Written Answers. EC Safety, Health and Welfare Legislation.