Health and Safety - Health & Safety Act 2005, Act No. 10 of 2005 

August, 2005 -

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 was signed into law by the President on the 1 July. It will not come into force, however, until the 1 September. The new Act makes it easier to impose criminal liability on directors, managers, and other similar officers who control the operations of employers. It increases the penalties in the District Court and the maximum fine in the Circuit Court is €3,000,000. The duties of employers in relation to the preparation of Safety Statements are expanded with significant emphasis on risk assessments and regular reviews of safety procedures. Employers are required to have a “competent person” available to advise them on health and safety issues. The onus of demonstrating compliance with health and safety obligations remains with the employer. Special codes of practice are to be developed for particular industries or sectors, which are intended to be of particular benefit to small businesses, the farming sector, and others who find it difficult to comply with their health and safety obligations. The Act provides greater protection for employees against penalisation and dismissal, and the safety representative, who can be appointed by employees, will have wider powers. In addition employees are put under an explicit obligation not to show up for work under the influence of alcohol or drugs and employers are entitled to test for the presence of such substances where it is reasonable. A statutory instrument will be required to bring this aspect of the legislation into force and it is expected that the Order will authorise testing in “safety critical” sectors of employment only. An employee must now also tell an employer if he or she is suffering from any disease or illness such as to make it difficult for them to perform their job. The Act places increased duties on designers and manufacturers. The Authority, previously known as the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, is being formally renamed the Health & Safety Authority, the name by which it is commonly known in any event.


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