HSA publishes Annual Report 2021 as it gets set to expand significantly with a renewed emphasis on occupational health hazards.

07 June 2022

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has today, Tuesday 7th June, published its Annual Report 2021 highlighting the broad scope of work activity carried out during the year, including its range of tools and supports to enable enterprises, employers and employees to meet their statutory obligations for the goods they manufacture or import, while ensuring they keep themselves, and their workplaces healthy and safe.  In this, the final year of its strategic cycle, the Authority also laid the groundwork in 2021 for its next strategy, which will see the organisation grow significantly to deliver an additional focus on occupational health hazards, in particular those associated with psychosocial and ergonomic risks, and exposure to chemical and biological agents. 

Key highlights from the 2021 Annual Report include:

  • A total of 7,477 inspections were completed across all sectors in 2021, with a further 1,109 investigations completed on foot of incident reports and complaints received.
  • Of the 7,477 proactive inspections in 2021, 1,383 inspections were completed in relation to chemicals and of these 666 inspections were carried out in relation to carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR).
  • Market Surveillance activities resulted in 87 chemical product types being removed from the Irish market and an additional 61 products being removed from sale to the general public due to non-compliances with labelling and packaging requirements. A total of 970 chemical products and 150 industrial products on the Irish market were assessed for compliance with technical requirements.
  • The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) awarded 18 new accreditations with a further 342 decisions on re-accreditation being made. 23 new applications for accreditation were also received by INAB in 2021, with 166 applications for extension to scope received from existing accredited clients.
  • In 2021 INAB developed a future-focused strategy for accreditation 2022–2026. This is the first such strategy statement for accreditation in Ireland and has been developed to recognise the role accreditation will play in supporting Government, enterprise, regulators and consumers now and in the future.
  • 2021 saw a welcome reduction in work-related fatalities, with a total of 38 reported compared to 54 in 2020, a decline of 30% and the lowest recorded since the Authority’s formation in 1989.
  • A range of free Enterprise, Employer and Employee supports continue to draw significant engagement and in 2021 alone there were:
    • 125,364 downloads of the HSA’s COVID 19 checklists and templates.
    • There were 8,672 new registrations on BeSmart.ie, bringing the total number to 86,834.
    • 56,804 online courses were taken on hsalearning.ie in 2021.
    • The Choose Safety programme (2020/21) was delivered to 27,494 students in 564 post-primary schools and higher education institutions.

Welcoming the HSA Annual Report 2021, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD, said, “Although the Health and Safety Authority saw a lower work-related fatality figure of 38 in Ireland last year, their continued focus is vital in areas such as farming, healthcare and construction where there is higher risk of occupational injury or illness. The HSA has been very successful in promoting use of their many free online tools, courses and supports and I’d encourage all employers and workers, including the self-employed, to avail of them.”

“Earlier this year I welcomed the Authority’s new Strategy Statement 2022-2024 and I look forward to seeing the Authority expand its workforce in order to deliver on its broad remit, working in collaboration with employers and employees, towards safer and healthier workplaces in Ireland.”

In addition to developing its next Strategy Statement, the Authority also progressed the establishment of a new division, with an emphasis on occupational health. This development, which will see significant scale up in staff numbers over the coming months, will allow the Authority to structure and organise itself for the future delivery of its wide mandate.

In delivering the HSA Annual Report 2021, the Health and Safety Authority’s CEO, Dr Sharon McGuinness stated, “In 2021 we set out to achieve tangible outcomes across our mandate which includes occupational safety and health (OSH), accreditation, chemicals, and market surveillance. In delivering our strategic objectives from 2019-2021, the Authority continued to encourage and support enterprises in taking responsibility for their compliance, taking appropriate and proportionate enforcement action when needed. We also worked closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on legislative developments and proposals.

Looking ahead, the Authority will continue to serve an ever-changing work environment in Ireland and it is important that the organisation evolves in parallel to achieve best outcomes. As we continue to prioritise our goals to promote, regulate, accredit, and influence the areas across our mandate, the Authority is expanding its workforce and re-organising its structure to introduce a new Occupational Health division. This new division will centre its focus on various safety and health concerns in Irish workplace including the impacts of the pandemic in accelerating the move to remote/hybrid working, the continued growth of the ‘gig economy’, the particular needs of vulnerable workers and migrant groups, and the impact of psychosocial issues in the workplace.”

On review of the year 2021, the Authority’s Chairman, Tom Coughlan, said, “There was significant collaboration between the Authority, various government agencies, and employer and employee groups in 2021 in the development of a wide range of supports, including coordination of the cross-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We also welcomed significant outputs from the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee in publishing its latest Action Plan for 2021-2024 and the Constructions Safety Partnerships’ Action Plan 2022-2024. The Authority will continue to collaborate and partner with these groups in order to successfully raise further awareness of our key strategic priorities. We also encourage enrolling Safety Representatives in workplaces to ensure employers and employees work in collaboration to ensure safe and healthy work practices.”

Read or download the HSA Annual Report 2021 / Tuarascáil Bhliantúil 2021  

Read or download the latest HSA Strategy Statement 2022-2024