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Introduction

National strategies are vital policy instruments to enhance the effectiveness of an OSH system by defining the key priorities and actions for improving workers’ health and safety.

The Commission called on the Member States to update and draw up their national OSH strategies in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 - in cooperation with social partners - to ensure that the new measures are applied on the ground.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is responsible for securing OSH at work, including compliance with consultation procedures. The HSA is a state-sponsored body, established under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, which has since been replaced by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and it reports to the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail under delegated authority from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). It is responsible for every type of industry, workplace and type of work both in the public and private sectors. This ranges from micro enterprises and SME’s, to large organisations with multiple locations and thousands of employees.

Basic Information

The current strategy document is the Health and Safety Authority (2022), Statement of Strategy 2022- 2024[1]. This strategy statement is the sixth strategy statement prepared under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 by the Authority and was developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and through public consultation.

Former strategies are:

  • Health and Safety Authority (2019), Statement of Strategy 2019- 2021[2]
  • Health and Safety Authority (2016), Statement of Strategy 2016- 2018[3]
  • Health and Safety Authority (2012), Statement of Strategy 2013- 2015[4]
  • Health and Safety Authority (2010), Statement of Strategy 2010- 2012[5]

 

Main characteristics and objectives of the OSH-strategy (activity plan)

The Authority’s strategy for the period 2022-2024 has been developed in the context of rapidly evolving external factors:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic which effects a wider infectious disease prevention and control and a trend towards remote/hybrid working.
  • The UK exit from the EU and the consequences on Irish enterprises.
  • The changing demographics of the Irish workforce, including an ageing workforce, as well as increasing numbers of vulnerable workers and migrant workers.
  • Changes in the structure of the economy at sectoral level, including in the construction and agriculture sectors.
  • The trend towards remote/hybrid working arrangements.

During the strategy development process, the Authority engaged in an extensive programme of external stakeholder feedback and public consultation. The consultation process suggested a positive overall assessment of the previous strategy as well as the extent of inherent collaboration. The tripartite approach involving employers, employees and government was seen as a strength. A high priority should be given to maintaining and building on the strengths of the previous strategy. Stakeholders outlined their belief that significant progress has been made in the priority areas, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the previous strategy made progress in ensuring that workers were protected from occupational injury and illness. It was also agreed that the main priorities outlined in the previous strategy remain relevant.

Vision: Healthy, safe, and productive lives and enterprises

The Authority’s vision looks further than the three-year period of the strategy. They want, in the longer term, to realise a safe and healthy working life for people in Ireland and to foster environment where businesses can grow and prosper.

Mission: We regulate and promote work-related safety, health, and welfare and the safe use of chemicals and products. We provide the national accreditation service.

Mandate:

  • To regulate the safety, health, and welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities.
  • To promote improvement in the safety, health, and welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities.
  • To regulate and promote the safe manufacture, use, placing on the market, trade, supply, storage, and transport of chemicals.
  • To act as a surveillance authority in relation to relevant single European market legislation.
  • To act as the national accreditation body for Ireland.

The CORE values of the Authority are:

Collaboration: to listen, consult and collaborate with employees, employers, stakeholders and partners.

Openness: To embrace diverse perspectives while striving to be inclusive in all that they do. To encourage open and honest communication.

Responsiveness: To adapt to changing circumstances and drive continuous improvement through innovation. To use data to inform what they do, and to evaluate and share learnings.

Ethics: To uphold the highest professional, governance and ethical standards. To earn trust by being accountable and delivering their services in a fair, independent and transparent manner.

Details of the strategy and activity plan

Priorities:

Five strategic priorities are defined in the strategy to deliver on the vision:

Imagen
Strategic priorities

Regulate: Increase focus on compliance through risk-based legislation, inspection, surveillance, and enforcement

Promote: Support, educate and raise awareness to prevent incidents, injuries and ill health

Influence: Partner and collaborate to deliver our mandates and achieve our vision

Accredit: Deliver the National Strategy for Accreditation

How HSA works: Continuously improve and transform the way we work through people, processes, technology and innovation

Expected outcomes are:

Regulate:

  • Effective holding to account of those who fail in their duties under legislation enforced by the Authority.
  • Continued downward trend in rates of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health.

Promote:

  • Employers actively engaged in managing occupational safety, health and welfare.
  • Workers actively engaged in protecting themselves and their colleagues at work.
  • Increased awareness of how to avoid and manage the risks to health arising from specific industrial products and chemicals.
  • People and organisations proactively engaged and satisfied with Authority programmes, tools and services.

Influence:

  • National interests represented during proposals for and transposition of EU directives and regulations.
  • Active engagement by and collaboration with other organisations in supporting the work of the Authority, including through memoranda of understanding and service-level agreements.

Accredit:

  • Accredit Increased awareness and use of INAB accreditation services to promote business excellence and sustainability, and to support regulation in essential areas.

How HSA works:

The Authority to be a high-performing organisation, evidenced by high levels of staff engagement and motivation, an ability to adapt to the changing environment, the optimal use of state resources and positive stakeholder relationships.

Programme of work

The Authority will deliver the strategy through the development and implementation of annual programmes of work, which will be submitted to the Minister for approval. These programmes will specify the actions and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will support the achievement of the strategic goals. Progress on the annual programmes of work that implement this strategy will be monitored using a range of qualitative and quantitative measures. In setting metrics, the Authority will focus not just on measurement of activities but will also look to measure the expected strategic outcomes.

The work programme defines five key actions in detail:

  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Chemicals
  • Market Surveillance
  • National Accreditation Body
  • Operational Effectiveness

The annual programme of work 2023 will focus on the strategic priorities and mandates as follows:

  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Chemicals
  • Market Surveillance
  • Accreditation
  • Competent and Designated National Authority Functions
  • Inspections/Investigations
  • Employers, Workers and Enterprises
  • Future of Workers and Work
  • EU Policy Input
  • Support the Minister and DETE
  • Enterprise and Employee Support
  • Stakeholder EngagementCorporate Governance and How We Work

Actors and stakeholders

Occupational safety and health policy at national level is determined by a twelve-member, tripartite Board, with nominees from the social partners and other interests concerned with safety and health in the workplace.

Because safety is everybody's responsibility there is always wide consultation with employers, employees, and their respective organisations. During the strategy development process, the Authority engaged in an extensive programme of external stakeholder feedback and public consultation. The overall stakeholder engagement process involved interviews, surveys and invitation of submissions from a wide range of internal HSA and external stakeholder groups, including employer, employee and sectoral representative bodies, government departments and agencies, and the general public, in addition to Authority staff.

HSA has in place more than 20 memoranda of understanding bi-lateral arrangements or protocols with other state bodies. HSA also leads or participates in a number of advisory groups (agriculture, construction, healthcare, workplace transport, technical and scientific, regional) that bring together representatives from industry, unions, other state agencies, local authorities and third-level institutions to meet their strategic goals and their vision of healthy, safe and productive live.

    Resources and timeframe

    The period of the Authority’s Strategy Statement runs from 2022–2024. The Authority will deliver this strategy through the development and implementation of annual programmes of work, which will be submitted to the Minister for approval.

    These programmes will specify the actions and key performance indicators that will support the achievement of the strategic goals. They will focus resources to deliver on the outcomes and make the most impact.

    Evaluation/lessons learned

    An analysis of the goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for the 2019-2021 strategy shows strong evidence of achievement of overall goals under each of the main strategic priorities. However, existing challenges which were identified in the 2019-2021 strategy remain, including safety in agriculture and construction, and long-term occupational health risks such as work-related stress.

    The anticipated outcomes from the 2019-2021 Strategy Statement were:

    • Reduced rates of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health.
    • Employers actively engaged in managing occupational safety, health and welfare.
    • Workers actively engaged in protecting themselves and their colleagues at work.
    • Increased public awareness of how to avoid and manage the risks to health arising from applicable products and chemicals.
    • Increased awareness and use of INAB accreditation services to promote business excellence and sustainability and to support regulation in essential areas.
    • People and organisations proactively engaged and satisfied with Authority programmes, tools and services.
    • National interests represented during proposals for and transposition of EU directives and regulations.
    • The Authority to be a high-performing organisation evidenced by high levels of staff engagement and motivation, an ability to adapt to the changing environment, optimal use of state resources, and
      positive stakeholder relationships.
    • Active engagement by other organisations in supporting the work of the Authority through memoranda of understanding and service-level agreements.
    • Effective holding to account of those who fail in their duties under legislation enforced by the Authority.

    In its Annual Reports, the HSA will evaluate and appraise the implementation of each year of the strategy and will focus not just on measurement of activities but also look to measure the expected strategic outcomes.

    Key Performance Indicators 2023[6]

    Key Performance Indicators

    2023 Target

    Proactive inspections (OSH)

    10,000

    Proactive inspections (Chemicals Act and Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road)

    920

    Reactive inspections

    600

    Market Surveillance assessments (Chemical Products)

    1500

    Market Surveillance assessments (Industrial Products)

    500

    New users of BeSMART

    7000

    Scientific opinions prepared for ECHA Committees

    5

    New proposals to harmonise the classification and labelling of substances

    2

    Accreditation decisions (new)

    15

    Accreditation decisions (renewed)

    380

    Relationship to EU Strategic Framework

    Important considerations for the strategy include all key objectives of the EU Strategic framework. The three key objectives of the EU Strategic Framework are covered by the five strategic priorities and the key actions. Some examples:

    Key objective 1 of the EU Strategic Framework (Anticipating and managing change) is covered by the strategic priority and related key actions:

    Occupational Safety and Health

    Focus on the specific health hazards and risks associated with psychosocial and ergonomic issues, biological agents and chemical agents including process-generated chemicals (e.g. silica dust)

    Key objective 2 the EU Strategic Framework (Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents) is covered by the strategic priority

    Occupational Safety and Health and Chemicals

    • Promotion of new EU occupational exposure limit values;
    • Development of proposals for new EU occupational exposure limits for lead and asbestos
    • Deliver a programme of intervention including 7,500 inspections within construction, health and social care, agriculture, transportation and storage along with other risk sectors with specific focus on:
    • biological, physical and chemical agents, psychosocial and ergonomics,
    • working at height, livestock safety, machinery safety, violence and aggression, passenger lifts, workplace transport operations,
    • appointments of Safety Representatives, Project Supervisors for Design Process and Construction Stages, and
    • vulnerable workers and migrant workers

    Key objective 3 of the EU Strategic Framework (Increasing preparedness – responding rapidly to threats) is covered by the strategic priority and mandates:

    Occupational Safety and Health and COVID-19

    • Address the changing needs of worker protection brought about by new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Addressing public health considerations in the workplace, as well as wider infectious disease prevention and control.
    • Farm Safety Partnership Action Plan and the Construction Safety Partnership Action Plan.
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
     

     

     

       

       

       

      References

      [1] Health and Safety Authority (2022), Statement of Strategy 2022- 2024. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/corporate/strategy-statement-2022-2024.pdf

      [2] Health and Safety Authority (2019), Statement of Strategy 2019- 2021. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/corporate/hsa_strategy_statement_2019-21.pdf

      [3] Health and Safety Authority (2016), Statement of Strategy 2016- 2018. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/corporate/hsa_strategy_statement_2016.pdf

      [4] Health and Safety Authority (2012), Statement of Strategy 2013- 2015. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Corporate/Strategy_Statement_2013.pdf

      [5] Health and Safety Authority (2010), Statement of Strategy 2010- 2012. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/corporate/strategy_statement_2010-2012.pdf

      [6] Health and Safety Authority Programme of Work 2023. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/corporate/programme_of_work_2023.pdf

       

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