Keywords: inspection, investigation, enforcement, inspector,health, safety, authority,appeals, powers, prosecutions, advice.
Inspectors of the Health and Safety Authority carry out reactive and pro-active inspections of workplaces. Reactive inspections may arise following an accident, incident or complaint. Pro-active inspections may be routine or targeted.
The purpose of an inspection is to assist the HSA in carrying out some of the general functions assigned by Section 34 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and include:
- Monitoring the implementation of, and compliance with, statutory health, safety and welfare requirements
- Enforcing any relevant statutory provisions set out in safety, health and welfare legislation
- Promoting, encouraging and advising employers and employees in relation to health and safety training
- Promoting and encouraging measures aimed at the prevention of accidents, dangerous occurrences and personal injury at work
- Providing information and advice on matters relating to safety, health and welfare
- Promoting and encouraging the implementation of best practice methodologies and processes.
Section 64 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 gives specific powers to inspectors and these are detailed in the section Powers of Inspectors.
Actions taken by Inspectors
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 allows the Health and Safety Authority to take actions where statutory contraventions are observed or where there is a risk of serious personal injury. These actions include
- The issuing of an Improvement Direction in relation to activities to which the inspector considers may involve risk to safety or health of persons. An employer is required to respond with an Improvement Plan
- The issuing of an Improvement Notice stating the inspectors opinion that a duty holder has contravened a provision of an Act or Regulation, and requiring that the contravention be addressed within a certain time period of not less than 14 days
- The issuing of a Prohibition Notice where an inspector is of the opinion that an activity is likely to involve a risk of serious personal injury to any person. This notice takes effect immediately from when the person, on whom the notice is served, receives the notice.
- The issuing of an Information Notice requiring a person to present to the HSA any information specified by the notice.
- The taking of summary proceedings in the District Court in relation to an offence under any of the relevant statutory provisions.
- The preparation of evidence so that the Director of Public Prosecutions can initiate proceedings on indictment for hearing in the Circuit Court in relation to an offence of the relevant statutory provisions.
- To apply ‘ex-parte’ to the High Court to seek an interlocutory Order under Section 71 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to restrict or prohibit work activities at part or all of a workplace.
If a person is aggrieved by an Improvement Notice, Prohibition Notice, or Information Notice then they have a right to appeal and information on the appeal procedure can be accessed here.
It should be noted that the information above is for general guidance and should not be seen as a legal interpretation of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 or any other statutory provisions relating to safety, health and welfare at work.