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Health and safety ‘gone mad’ as council workers suspended over filling pothole

A spokesperson from the HSA said that the issue wasn’t one of “red tape and bureaucracy”, but of safety.

File photo
File photo
Image: A hole in the road via Shutterstock

Updated 11:50

THREE COUNTY COUNCIL workers have been suspended after filling a pothole in what was viewed to be an unsafe manner.

The suspensions were announced yesterday at a meeting of Cork County Council.

In attendance at the meeting was Fine Gael councillor Tim Lombard, who told TheJournal.ie that the suspensions represented health and safety “gone mad”.

The councillor explained that the workers – having returned from a job in the Crosshaven area of the county – had come across a pothole in the Carrigaline area and, having the materials with them to fill it, began work.

They were observed by an inspector from the Health and Safety Authority, who reported them. The decision to suspend the men was taken by the county council, however.

“They are being punished for showing initiative,” Lombard said. “People are looking for a more economic local authority and then you have this happen to three diligent men who were just doing their job,” he added.

If they did break the law, they did so while trying to do their best for people. Now we have a scared workforce who are paranoid to do anything unless all the paperwork is in place.

“Every member that spoke on the floor [of the county council meeting] yesterday was concerned about the knock-on effect of this action,” the councillor said.

Health and Safety

A spokesperson from the Health and Safety Authority told TheJournal.ie that the decision to suspend the three men was taken by Cork County Council.

“There is no regulation that specifies the number of people required to fill a pothole. The regulation is that the work has to be carried out in a safe manner,” he said.

He went on to say:

It’s not about red tape and bureaucracy. It’s about common sense and taking reasonable safety precautions. Three different people from three different local authorities [Cork, Waterford and Kildare] have been killed in similar circumstances in the last 18 months.

Read: Varadkar urges local authorities to focus on road maintenance >

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Paul Hyland

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