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'Shocking and dangerous': HSA funding for workplace safety initiatives cut by almost a half

The number of inspections carried out by the HSA have taken a sharp decline in recent years.

FUNDING FOR WORKPLACE safety initiatives through the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been cut by 47%.

Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has described the cut as “shocking, short-sighted and dangerous”.

The estimated spend on safety initiatives has been cut from €1.77 million in 2015 to €957,000 in 2016. This 47% cut makes no sense.

HSA expenditure

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the HSA said it’s aiming to “do more with less”.

We are committed to delivering efficiencies and achieving more with less and will continue to implement our programme of work on that basis.

The Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said, “Clearly the HSA are being forced to make business-level decisions that will affect their level of work based on below-adequate funding from the department.”

The HSA said, “The budget of the Health and Safety Authority is allocated in a way that maximises our ability to regulate and promote the safety, health and welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities.”

shutterstock_30309448 Source: Shutterstock/Jim Helmes

However, Collins said, “56 people lost their lives in 2015 as a result of workplace accidents” adding that “the best way of reducing these unnecessary losses is through educating people working in dangerous circumstances”.

Drop in inspections

The Minister of State for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen also revealed that the number of inspections carried out by the HSA have taken a sharp decline in recent years.

Figures show the number of inspections and investigations fell from 15,340 in 2011 to a low of 10,719 in 2014, increasing to 10,880 last year.

HSA inspections

The Minister said the falling inspection rates can be attributed to the loss of inspection staff.

The HSA lost 12 inspectors between 2011 and 2015, there are now 62 inspectors compared to 73 in 2011.

However he said the programme of inspections has been increased for this year and will continue to target areas with the highest risk.

Most inspections target construction, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, mines, quarries, transport of dangerous goods by road or the chemical sectors.

He added, “The Authority’s 2016 Programme of Work set a target of 11,165 inspections and investigations and its performance is currently on target.”

Read: County by county breakdown: 55 people died in Irish workplaces last year>

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