16 May 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould TD has called on the government to “urgently ensure that the Health and Safety Authority is given the tools it needs to monitor workplaces effectively as we begin reopening our economy.”
The Cork North Central TD was speaking following an outbreak of the virus in Cork a meat processing factory this week.
Mr Gould said;
“The HSA has been given a critical role in ensuring that workplaces are safe, employees are protected and that the reopening of our economy moves forward.
“The tools that HSA requires to do the job are additional power and funding. The agency must be given everything it needs so that it can police and enforce the back to work health guidelines effectively.
“The latest figures we have, show that in 2019, the Health and Safety Authority had 104 full-time equivalent staff employed in the inspector grades who work across all sectors in the economy.
“This is going to need to be significantly increased, given their additional responsibilities now during the Covid-19 pandemic, and clarity on extra funding is needed.
“Sinn Féin has asked Minister Heather Humphreys to also ensure that the HSA has strong enforcement powers for those businesses that refuse to comply with safety guidelines.
“In many cases, businesses may need additional assistance and advice on how best to implement the safety measures and this need will have to be catered for too.
“We have to ensure that the HSA is not toothless when it comes to enforcement so that we can be confident that workers are protected and our hard-won progress is not jeopardised.”