Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 22 November, 2000

Written Answers. - Health and Safety Regulations.

122. Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of deaths and injuries reported to date in 2000 as a result of accidents in the construction industry; the progress made to date in 2000 in ensuring improved safety standards in the sector; [976] and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26580/00]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. T. Kitt):Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, known as the Health and Safety Authority, is the State body charged with overall responsibility for the administration, enforcement and promotion of workplace safety and health. Matters arising from this responsibility are, therefore, a day-to-day function of the authority.

Statistical information concerning the number of fatalities, injuries and inspections in any work sector is collected by the Health and Safety Authority and is, therefore, obtainable directly from the authority.

I have, however, been informed by the authority that there have been 22 construction related fatalities up to 17 November. So far this year, 798 accidents resulting in more than three days absence from work have been reported to the Health and Safety Authority.

The management of health and safety in all sectors of employment is based on the principles of legislation, enforcement and a strong partnership approach. There is a strong legislative base by which safety standards in the construction sector can be managed and this legislation is enforced in a pro-active manner by the Health and Safety Authority. The additional resources, both financial and staffing, which I secured earlier this year for the authority, are being put to good effect in the construction sector through targeted inspection, enforcement and awareness-raising activities.

However, both I and the authority are of the firm belief that for greater health and safety improvements to be brought about in the construction sector, a strong partnership approach – by all the parties at all levels in the sector – to the issue of safety must be adopted. This partnership approach has continued to be developed in 2000 within the context of the construction safety partnership, CSP.

The report of the CSP, which was launched earlier this year, sets out the conclusions and recommendations of the partnership plan. The partnership plan is a three year plan to improve occupational safety, health and welfare standards in the construction industry and all parties to the plan have made a number of wide-ranging commitments which they have undertaken to implement over that period of time.

The recommendations of the partnership plan cover measures to improve safety consultation and safety representation, safety training, introduction of safety management systems and increased inspection activity by the Health and Safety Authority. Work has continued throughout the year on implementing the recommendations of the plan and the parties to the partner[977] ship are meeting again on 4 December to review progress.

Question No. 123 taken with Question No. 86.