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World Day for Safety and Health at Work

International Workers’ Memorial Day

There seems to be a day for everything!! International ???? Day!!  Some would argue that they are trivial, and you could agree, but some of these days require us to stop and think.  A good rule of thumb is to focus on the days recognised by the United Nations. The UN says “International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.” A day worth pondering is 28th April each year – World Day for Safety and Health at Work and it is also International Workers’ Memorial Day.

The annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work promotes the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.  International Workers’ Memorial Day is to remember dead and injured workers and is organised worldwide by the trade union movement, since 1996.  The slogan for this year’s International Memorial Day is “Workplace health and safety – it’s your right”.  

Workplace Health and Safety – It’s Your Right

Health and safety in the workplace is a right!!  It is not just about compliance.  It is about ensuring that everyone gets home safely to their families each day. We should not feel nervous going to work thinking that our safety is going to be compromised in any way – that is both our physical safety and our mental safety. We should not be asked to condone and carry out unsafe work practices nor should we be exposed to unreasonable deadlines, and stress, due to bullying practices.  

The past year has brought a great deal of stress on businesses and their employees. Businesses have struggled to stay open, and some have not been able to open at all e.g., wet pubs. Now that we are preparing, hopefully, for a reopening of society in the next few months, the pressure is going to be on businesses to be prepared for their customers i.e., the people who, ultimately, pay the wages.   However, in the midst of this turmoil, the health and safety needs of employees cannot be overlooked.  Health and safety legislation has been in place since 1989 to protect employees in the workplace. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 stipulates that employers have a duty of care to provide a safe place of work as far as is “reasonably practicable”.  

Safety Statement Review

Businesses should be constantly reviewing their Safety Statement.  It should be a living document and not something that sits on a shelf to get dusted every so often. Risk assessments should be written, and constantly reviewed as jobs change. The need for a safety statement and written risk assessments is a legal requirement under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work 2005. If you, as an employer, are not compliant, you need to start the process immediately to get your Safety Statement and associated policies and procedures compiled and your risk assessments developed. 

Importance of Good Health and Safety Practices

Some businesses resist looking after health and safety thinking it is expensive and time wasting.  In fact, good health and safety saves money for businesses as good practices result in less accidents.  Sadly, last year there were 53 work related deaths in Ireland and this year, to date, there have been 9 deaths. That is a total of 62 people, in the last 15 months, who went to work and never came home.  Workplace health and safety was their right but, sadly, this right was not met.

If you want to know more about compiling a safety statement, policies, procedures, and risk assessments, please visit our website www.emsandassociates.com.  You can also go to the Health and Safety Authority www.hsa.ie and check out www.besmart.ie which is a free Safety Statement tool.  

In the meanwhile, think of those that didn’t make it home and light a candle in their memories.

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