Protected Disclosures and the Health and Safety Authority
The Protected Disclosures Act 2014, as amended by the Protected Disclosures Amendment Act 2022, (the Act), makes provision for the protection of workers, from the taking of action against them, in respect of the making of certain disclosures.
The CEO of the HSA has been prescribed as a recipient of protected disclosures in relation to ‘All matters associated with legislation enforced by the Health and Safety Authority, and accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies through the Irish National Accreditation Board within the Health and Safety Authority’.
The Board and the senior management team of the HSA are committed to this procedure and confirm that processes are in place to ensure the protection of reporting persons.
The following workers are protected:
- Employees or former employees
- People working under a contract for services
- Independent contractors
- Agency workers
- People on work experience
- Unpaid trainees
- Board members
- Job applicants
Relevant wrongdoings include:
- Commission of criminal offences
- Failure to comply with legal obligations
- Breaches of certain European Union law
- Endangering the health and safety of individuals
- Damaging the environment
- Miscarriage of justice
- Misuse of public funds
- Oppressive, discriminatory, grossly negligent or grossly mismanaged acts or omissions by a public body
- Concealment or destruction of information about any of the above wrongdoing or any attempt to conceal or destroy such information
Work related context means current or past work activities in the public or private sector through which, irrespective of the nature of these activities, the reporting person acquires information concerning a relevant wrongdoing, and within which the reporting person could suffer penalisation for reporting the information.
What is a Protected Disclosure?
A Protected Disclosure:
- Is a disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of a worker, tends to show one or more relevant wrongdoings, and
- it came to the attention of the worker in a work-related context, and
- it is disclosed in the manner prescribed in the Act
In order to gain protection under the Act when making a protected disclosure to the HSA:
- The discloser must be a worker and the information must come to their attention in connection with their employment, and
- The information disclosed must tend to show one or more ‘relevant wrongdoings’, and
- The discloser must believe that the information is substantially true and comes within the categories of matters for which the CEO of the HSA is a prescribed person, and
- The disclosure must be in the manner prescribed in section 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 of the 2014 Act
What is not a Protected Disclosure?
- An interpersonal grievance or a complaint exclusively affecting a reporting person is not a relevant wrongdoing for the purposes of the Act
- Workplace complaints that are not protected disclosures should be reported via our complaints form
What if the HSA is not the appropriate organisation for your Protected Disclosure?
For any wrongdoing not relevant to the work of the HSA, please refer to the list of prescribed persons.
How to make a Protected Disclosure to the HSA
- It is preferable that a protected disclosure be made in writing; however, it can be made verbally
- While we accept anonymous protected disclosures, we may be restricted in our ability to investigate them. It should be noted that a reporting person cannot obtain redress under the Act without identifying themselves as part of the process of seeking redress
Protected disclosures may be made to the HSA by email, post, telephone, or via a physical meeting on request:
- Health and Safety Authority, Metropolitan Building, James Joyce Street, Dublin 1, D01 KY08
- Email: ExternalPD@hsa.ieindicating protected disclosure in the subject line
- Phone: 0818 289 392
What to provide in a Protected Disclosure
- Confirmation that the disclosure is being made as a protected disclosure
- Discloser’s name, position in the organisation, place of work and confidential contact details
- Date of the alleged wrongdoing (if known) or the date the alleged wrongdoing commenced or was identified
- Whether or not the alleged wrongdoing is still ongoing
- Whether the alleged wrongdoing has already been disclosed and if so, to whom, when, and what action was taken
- Information in respect of the alleged wrongdoing (what is occurring/has occurred)
- Name of the person(s) allegedly involved in the alleged wrongdoing (if a name is known and the discloser considers that naming an individual is necessary to expose the wrongdoing disclosed); and
- Any other information that the discloser believes relevant.
How your protected disclosure will be dealt with
- We will acknowledge receipt of the protected disclosure within 7 working days
- Where the protected disclosure does not relate to a matter for which the HSA is prescribed, the HSA will transmit the protected disclosure to the relevant prescribed person. We will inform you of this within 14 working days
- Where the protected disclosure relates to a matter for which the HSA is prescribed, we will inform you within 14 working days that it has been assigned for investigation
- We will provide feedback to you on the steps taken or planned to be taken within three months, or six months in duly justified cases
- We will communicate with you as regards the outcome of any investigation
- While feedback will be provided, the need to maintain confidentiality may prevent us from providing specific details of the investigation and/or any actions taken and the outcome
Protection of Identity
The HSA has a legal obligation protect the identity of the discloser and of any person referred to in the protected disclosure. All reasonable steps will be taken to protect the identity of a discloser and persons concerned and to ensure the disclosure is treated in confidence in line with the provisions of the Act. There are exceptions to this, as outlined in the Act. If a decision is taken which may identify the discloser, they will be informed that this may occur in advance, unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.
Records will be maintained in compliance with relevant confidentiality requirements. Any personal data collected will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018, Regulation (EU) 2016/679, Directive (EU) 2016/680 and Regulation (EU) 2018/1725.
Protection from Penalisation
Workers are protected from penalisation or punishment as a result of making a protected disclosure. Further information on redress for employees is available on the Citizens Information Website.
Reviews of decisions
Areview of the outcome of the Authority’s investigation or of this process can be requested by a party affected by any of the following processes:
- The conduct or outcome of any follow-up actions by the Authority, including an investigation
- Any decision to disclose the identity of the discloser (except in exceptional cases)
Requests for a review, including details as to why the review is sought, should be submitted in writing to ExternalPD@hsa.ie within four weeks of receipt of confirmation of the outcome of the investigation.
The HSA publishes their Protected Disclosures Annual Report on its website. None of the information provided in the HSA annual report of protected disclosures will be provided in a form that enables the identification of the persons involved.
- Independent and confidential advice is available through the 'Speak Up' helpline for anyone considering making a protected disclosure. The helpline can be accessed at 1800 844 866, Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on their website speakup.ie.
- The Transparency Legal Advice Centre (TLAC) provides free legal advice to anyone who wants to disclose wrongdoing under the Act (as amended). This can be accessed through the Speak Up helpline.
- Information on rights and entitlements under employment legislation can be obtained from the Workplace Relations Commission.