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A wide range of occupational health and safety legislations and associated codes of practice are administered and enforced by the Health and Safety Authority. The European Construction Industry Federation along with Irish acts forms the current legislative requirements for health and safety in Ireland
As the construction industry has one of the worst occupational safety and health records it is important to take on this topic and research it with a broad perspective in relating to legislations and the importance of safety in the construction industry.
In relation to Health and Safety in the construction industry, carried out under section 19 of the Safety statement, every employer shall identify the hazards in the place of work under his or her control, assess the risks presented by those hazards and be in possession of a written assessment (to be known and referred to in this Act as a "risk assessment") of the risks to the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees, including the safety, health and welfare of any single employee or group or groups of employees who may be exposed to any unusual or other.
Section 19 in the Safety statement is based on the risk assessment which should be carried out by all employers including small contractors. Regardless of what size the company is, most aspects of the regulations are relevant to all contractors and must be complied with by all to ensure the safety of all persons including employees and the general public.
In General, Small Contractors (consisting of 20 or less employees) will comply with the following in relation to Health and Safety in their industry.
Provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and do likewise for all machinery and equipment
Manage work activities to ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees
Ensure that risks are assessed and a safety statement is prepared and updated
Provide and maintain decent welfare facilities for employees
Prepare and update procedures to deal with an emergency situation
Provide training and information to workers in a format and language that is appropriate
Report serious accidents to the Health and Safety Authority
5.1 Historical background on Health and Safety legislation
The first European directives on health and safety at work were agreed on the basis of the general market organisation provisions. This was due to a lack of an clear legislative competence in the agreement in the field of health and safety at work until the mid-1980s. Until then occupational health and safety was seen as an addition to market agreements and the economic policies of the European Economic Community.
The Single European Act 1987 was a major step forward in that it introduced a new legal provision on social policy to the settlement aiming at improvements, especially in the working environment, as regards the health and safety of workers. By inserting this provision into the agreement, the importance of safe working conditions was made evident. Furthermore, the new Social Chapter authorised the European Commission to promote social negotiation between employers and labour representatives at a European level.
The European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work (Directive 89/391 EEC) adopted in 1989 was a substantial milestone in improving safety and health at work. It guarantees minimum safety and health requirements throughout Europe while Member States are allowed to maintain or establish more stringent measures.
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On the 12th of June 1989 an introduction of measures was brought about to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work - "Framework Directive".
In 1989 some provisions of the Framework Directive brought about considerable innovation including some of the following:
The Directive aims to establish an equal level of safety and health for the benefit of all workers (the only exceptions are domestic workers and certain public and military services).
The Directive obliges employers to take appropriate preventive measures to make work safer and healthier.
5.2 General Duties of the Contractor regarding legislation
Workplace health and safety is the combined effort of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work. For the contractor in the construction field to have a successful project, it can be based on healthy employees working in a supportive environment. The contractors health and safety policy should influence all your activities, including the selection of people, equipment and materials, the way work is done and how you design and provide goods and services. A written statement of your policy and the organisation and arrangements for implementing and monitoring it shows your
staff, and anyone else, that hazards have been identified and risks assessed, eliminated or controlled. The contractors duties should include:
(a) - co-operate with the project supervisor for the construction stage
(b) - provide a copy of any relevant safety statement prepared which is likely to affect the safety, health or welfare of any person at work on the construction site
(c) - provide the project supervisor for the construction stage with information in relation to any accident or dangerous occurrence of which the contractor is required to give notification or to report
(d) - promptly provide the project supervisor for the construction stage, in writing, with all relevant information necessary to prepare the safety file
(e) - comply with directions given under these Regulations by the project supervisor for the design process or by the project supervisor for the construction stage
(f) - bring to the attention of the employees any rules applicable to them contained in the safety and health plan
(g) - comply with the safety and health plan and any rules in the plans that are applicable to the contractor or to the contractor's employees
5.3 Safety awareness and skills certification
Every contractor or other person under whose direct control persons work on a construction site shall ensure that each of those persons
is in possession of a valid safety awareness registration card
is in possession of an appropriate valid construction skills registration card
has received site-specific safety induction instruction
On the date upon which a worker first starts work on a construction site, the contractor shall
ask to see the appropriate valid registration card
furnish to the project supervisor for the construction stage written confirmation that the worker is in possession of -
(i)Â Â Â Â Â Â the valid registration card
(ii)Â Â Â Â Â other relevant certificates and documentation required under the relevant statutory provisions.
The relevant contractor shall ensure consultation on the construction site with the contractor's employees, their safety representative and the site safety representative in relation to the requirements of these Regulations taking account of the need, whenever necessary, for co-operation and co-ordination among -
the safety representatives of the different contractors
the site safety representative
with a view to promoting and developing measures for protecting safety, health and welfare of persons at work on the site.
Health and Safety is everyone's business. As a worker you have legal duties designed to protect you and those you work with. You have to obey the following rules -
Co-operate with an employer or other people to ensure that the health and safety law is implemented
Don't engage in improper conduct that will endanger you or anyone else
Attend health and safety training and correctly use any equipment at work
Use protective clothing and equipment provided (safety helmet, harness or any other personal protective equipment provided for the person's safety and health)
Report any dangerous practices or situations that you are aware of to an appropriate person
Don't interfere or misuse any safety equipment at your workplace
The new law places "safety statements" at the heart of the proper health and safety management system. Under the new Act, every employer must prepare a safety statement which:
Identifies hazards in a work place, as well as the level of risk and identifies the measure to eliminate or control those risks
Outlines the procedures that exist to deal with an emergency situation
Highlights the duty of employees to so-operate with health and safety practices in the workplace
Is updated regularly to take account of changing circumstances
5.7 Conclusion to Safety Legislations
A contractor responsible for a construction site shall take all appropriate precautions to ensure that the site is safe and without risk of injury to the safety, health and welfare of persons at work, taking into account numerous risks associated in such areas as
Site safety and access to construction sites
Emergency routes and exits
Doors and gates
Traffic routes and danger areas
Stability and solidity
Protection from falling material and protective safety helmets
Loading bays and ramps
Installations, machinery and equipment
Lighting of work places
Prevention of electrocution
Projecting nails and loose material
Construction of temporary structures
Avoidance of danger from collapse of structure
Floors, walls, ceilings and roofs of rooms
Windows and skylights
Freedom of movement at the workstation
Under EU directives, employers have responsibilities for the safety and health of their workers. Directive 89/391 provides the general framework for health and safety management and risk assessment. Â
Employers are required to assess risks and take practical measures to protect the safety and health of their workers, keep accident records, provide information and training, consult employees and co-operate and co-ordinate measures with contractors.