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A ceremony for the Workers' Memorial Day was held in the Garden of Remembrance today Leah Farrell/RollingNews
workers' memorial day

INMO call for Health and Safety Authority resources to protect healthcare staff from danger

INMO President Karen McGowan spoke on behalf of healthcare workers at a Workers’ Memorial Day event at the Garden of Rememberance.

LAST UPDATE | 28 Apr 2023

THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for the Health and Safety Authority to be better resourced to enhance the safety of nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers on Workers’ Memorial Day.

Today marks the international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled and injured in the course of their work.

INMO President Karen McGowan spoke on behalf of healthcare workers at the memorial event the Garden of Remembrance which began at 10:30 this morning.

“Workers’ Memorial Day in Ireland is an important opportunity to honour and remember workers who have lost their lives or suffered injuries while on the job, and to advocate for safer workplaces and better protection of workers’ rights,” she told the event.

Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Neale Richmond TD and Interim CEO of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Mark Cullen, were in attendance.

“The Health and Safety Authority must act on the unsafe conditions our healthcare workers are working in and patients are presenting to. The HSA has done phenomenal work in transforming workplace safety in the construction and agriculture industries – if given the resources it must do the same in healthcare.”

McGowan highlighted the danger healthcare workers faced during the pandemic and the attacks on staff that occur each day.

Over 63% of all incidents of assault that occur against HSE workers are levelled against nurses and midwives.

Between January 2021 and October 2022, there were 5,593 reported assaults against nursing and midwifery staff and 9,075 assaults were recorded on staff and patients within the healthcare sector during the same period.

The INMO has stated that this figure does not include assaults against nurses and midwives in Section 38 facilities, and that there are at least ten assaults against nurses and midwives every day.

In February, paediatric nurse Sylvia Chambers told the Oireachtas Health Committee that she is regularly verbally abused at work, has had objects thrown at her and was threatened that when she would be stabbed when she left work.

Interim CEO of the HSA, Mark Cullen, told the Garden of Remembrance event that the HSA’s new Occupational Health Division was now operational and would have 100 staff.

“We’re now positioned to give even greater focus to occupational health hazards such as those arising from exposure to chemical and biological agents, and from psychosocial and ergonomic risks.”

The division will focus on tackling burnout, work related stress, depression and anxiety, as well as bone, joint or muscle problems and violence and aggression in the workplace.


McGowan’s speech noted that healthcare workers had put their own safety at risk everyday during the pandemic.

“I am a healthcare worker, I’m an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in a hospital not far from where we stand today. Every day, we care for patients and provide vital services to our communities.”

“As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, I believe it is important to look back. 23 healthcare workers tragically lost their lives because of Covid-19. We think of them and their families today.”

“Thousands of healthcare workers contracted what was an unknown virus in the line of their work. Hundreds of my healthcare colleagues are still paying the price as they continue to deal with the symptoms of Long-Covid.

“We put ourselves in a situation where we did not know the outcome in order to put our patients first. As we reflect on workplace injuries today, many of my colleagues and I will ask ourselves, knowing what we know now would we do it again? Can we say that our safety in the workplace has improved?”

Today’s event commemorated the 461 people who were killed in work-related incidents over a ten-year period from 2013-2023.

Eight people have died in work-related incidents so far this year. 

There were 2,162 reported work-related injuries or illnesses in this same period, according to the HSA.

The HSA’s data also showed that the sectors with the highest number of reported injuries and illnesses in 2022 included human health and social work, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, the repair of vehicles and construction.  

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