Author Archives: ASM Group

Companies must REACH Deadline by 31st May

Irish chemical companies have until 31st May 2018 to meet the deadline date of the EU’s final REACH registration, which addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.

Irish chemical companies who have pre-registered substances that they manufacture or import from outside the EU above one tonne, but not greater than 100 tonnes per year, and who have not yet registered them, are being strongly urged by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to roll out their preparations for registration now.

A registration dossier must be submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). REACH requires that all companies registering the same substance must work together as a group (the so-called SIEF), and to be part of a joint submission for the registered substance. In the SIEF, a lead registrant is appointed on behalf of all the members. The lead registrant submits the lead registration dossier, which contains certain information which must be submitted jointly by all the registrants.

Following that, each member registrant can then submit his own member dossier, which will contain information which is relevant for him that he must submit separately. It is important to remember that completely separate registrations outside of the joint submissions are not allowed – registrants must be all part of the same joint submission.

The Voice of Authority
As data sharing negotiations within the SIEF can take some time, the Health and Safety Authority is advising companies to begin this work as soon as possible to ensure they have their registration in place by May 2018. Registration involves contacting other companies registering the same substance, appointing a lead registrant, agreeing data and cost sharing, evaluating the available data, risk assessing uses and preparing and submitting dossiers through the ECHA IT submission tools.

ECHA has documented the various steps involved in registration with a view to simplifying the process for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), who may be registering in 2018 for the first time. Information, guidance and an accompanying webinar are available for each step on ECHA’s REACH 2018 website.

Companies that have just started manufacturing or importing a substance from outside the EU over one tonne, but not more than 100 tonnes per year, are advised that the may have a last chance to pre-register up until the end of May 2017. Companies who have pre-registered may continue their activities whilst working towards registration in 2018, and those who have not pre-registered must have a valid registration in place before they can manufacture or import
over one tonne per year.

Code of Practice Avoiding Danger from Overhead Lines

The draft revision of the ESB Network COP on Overhead Lines is now gone for public consultation. This Code of Practice (COP) has been prepared by ESB Networks with the assistance of the Health and Safety Authority.

The aim of this COP is to improve the level of safety of work near overhead electricity lines and, in doing so, to assist those who are involved in working in the vicinity of overhead electricity lines in avoiding the inherent dangers. The COP is intended to provide practical guidance to Clients, Designers, Planners, Project Supervisors (Design Process and Construction Stage), Contractors, Safety Representatives and any personnel who are involved in carrying out work where they are at risk from overhead electricity lines.

This COP gives recommendations and practical guidance on how to carry out work safely in the vicinity of overhead lines. The COP primarily covers construction related activities, which includes building and construction site works, road construction and resurfacing works, use of cranes, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), concrete placing booms, lorry mounted cranes and other high reach plant, excavation equipment and the transporting of high loads by road.

The COP includes:

  • Dangers of working close to overhead electricity lines.
  • Role of the client / occupier
  • Role of the PSDP & Designers.
  • Role of the PSCS, the contractor, the employee and others.
  • Role of the electrical network owner/operator.
  • Construction site where an overhead electricity line presents a hazard.
  • Operating cranes and similar high reach plant near overhead electricity lines
  • Road strengthen and resurfacing works
  • Work on eircom telecommunication overhead services.
  • Transporting of high loads by road.

The draft revision is available at this link: The HSA requests that comments on the draft are submitted to before close of business on Wednesday, 18 April 2018. Could you all bring this to the attention of interested parties.

ISO 45001 Published in March

The new international standard for occupational safety and health, ISO 45001, which went through a long and somewhat torturous development process, was finally published on March 12th.

According to the ISO, the new standard, which will replace OHSAS 18001, is the first global standard giving organisations “a universally accepted framework for improving employee health and safety, reducing workplace risks and creating healthier, safer workplace conditions”. Speaking about the new standard, IOSH’s head of policy and public affairs, Richard Jones, said it is great news.

ISO 45001 is based on the ISO’s Annex SL, the new high-level structure that brings a common framework to all standards. This will allow organisations to align their health and safety management system with other management systems, such as quality, environment and energy.

One of the new elements in ISO 450001 is the focus on leadership. The standard sets specific requirements for top management, requiring them to demonstrate leadership, commitment and to promote a positive health and safety culture. There is also an increased focus on worker involvement, which should fit in with the HSA’s focus on promoting the role of safety representatives. However, the ETUC has expressed concerns about the new standard, fearing it could lead to reduced levels of protection and a focus on certification, rather than real indicators of a strong safety system.

Speaking to HSR, Stephen Fulwell, of the Magnolia House Consultancy, who is well-known in Ireland for his role as a safety management auditor, says the new standard will, because of the SL base, allow health and safety to be aligned with other standards. The process, Fulwell says, will be an ongoing one which will promote continuous improvement. His experience is that senior management are buying into ISO 45001.

Impact of Data Protection Regulation

Six months remain until the EU General Data Protection Regulation comes into force and it will affect health and safety practitioners through accident reports, the use of CCTV, biometric testing, private investigators and insurance claims files.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU 2016/679) will, when it comes into force on May 25th, 2018, repeal and replace the 1996 EU Data Protection Directive and supersede the Irish Data Protection Act 1988 (as amended by the 2003 Act) and regulations made under the Irish Act.

Though there is no need for Irish legislation, as the GDPR becomes law directly in all EU member states, the Irish Government has published the heads of a Data Protection Bill. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has launched an awareness-raising campaign, which includes a dedicated website on the regulation,

The Commissioner has also issued a 12-step guide, The GDPR and You (download here). The guide makes it clear that the main concepts and principles of the GDPR are much the same as those in current Irish legislation. However, the GDPR introduces new elements and significant enhancements. The new and enhanced elements include:

  • Fines of up to €20m or 4% of global turnover for breaches of the Regulation;
  • The right of data subjects to access and to require the data controller to provide copies of data free of charge and in electronic format. This has been described as “a dramatic change”;
  • The right to be forgotten after the data is no longer relevant to the original purposes for which it was obtained.

The Commissioner advises that organisations should immediately start preparing for the implementation of the Regulation. While the responsibility for this will fall on the organisations’ data controllers, as is clear from the Commissioner’s annual reports over the years there are areas where data protection impacts on the health and safety function. Over the years the Commissioner has issued decisions on insurance claims files, private investigators, CCTV, accident report forms.

Speaking at an IOSH event in 2012, the former Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, spoke about the application of data protection to health and safety. Among the issues Mr Hawkes spoke about were CCTV monitoring, taking photos, health data, drug testing, tracking devices in vehicles and information for insurers.

Relevant Provisions of the GDPR
Responding to queries from HSR regarding the impact of the GDPR, the office of the Data Protection Commissioner advises that Mr Hawkes’ remarks remain relevant. It also draws attention to some provisions of the GDPR, which it believes health and safety advisors should be aware of.

Data protection officer
Article 37 outlines the circumstances under which an organisation may be required to appoint a data protection officer (DPO). The Commissioner advises that safety advisors liaise with DPOs to get advice on data issues that arise. It should, the Commissioner points out, be noted that if there are breaches, reporting to the Data Protection Commissioner will be mandatory. For example, if a safety advisor misplaces records containing personal data while out on an inspection, this will become a reportable breach unless the company can be sure it is unlikely to result in a risk to employee’s data protection rights.

Record keeping
Under article 30, many organisations will be required to maintain records of their data processing activities. Where safety advisors are keeping records containing employee personal data (e.g. routine safety checks or training records), they should be aware that this type of data processing needs to be included in the overall data processing record.

The GDPR emphasises the importance of transparency. The Commissioner advises that where personal data is processed for health and safety reasons, data controllers should make sure adequate information is provided to employees.

Information to data subjects
Employers, as data controllers, should ensure employees are fully informed where personal data is processed in accordance with a health and safety policy or procedures.

HSA Programme of Work 2018 signals the H&S+Wellbeing era

The plans detailed in the HSA’s Programme of Work 2018, which has been published recently, suggest that 2018 will be a busy year for the Authority, which intends to carry out nearly 10,500 planned inspections, 1,000 investigations and host about 20 events.

HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran writes that the Programme of Work is the third during the period covered by the Authority’s Strategy 2016-2018. The foreword to the programme states that there will be particular emphasis on workplace health, new and returning workers, safety representatives and a focus on sectors, such as accommodation and retail. The detailed inspections plan indicates there will be an increase of 50 inspections in the accommodation sector and 30 in the retail/wholesale sector.

Sectors that will remain at the forefront of the Authority’s work during the year are agriculture, construction and healthcare. Topics the Authority will be focusing on are occupational health, work-related vehicle safety, small business support, chemicals and a relatively new one, the provision of a national accreditation service. The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is now a committee under the auspices of the HSA.

Occupational Health and Wellbeing
Picking up on Mr O’Halloran’s words that “occupational health remains a high priority”, the stress on wellbeing is notable. Towards the end of April or in early May, the Department of Health is expected to publish two reports on workplace health and wellbeing, as part of the Government’s National Healthy Ireland Framework.

In November, the Authority plans to hold a wellbeing event to address the hazards and targets set out in the Strategy 2016-2018 document. It will be interesting to see how the reports from the Department of Health and the Authority’s focus on wellbeing relate to one another.

In a report on the future of work published by the British Safety Council and co-authored by Professor Cary Cooper, the impact of work on employee health, safety and wellbeing is considered. For OSH professionals the current emphasis on wellbeing suggests the profession may well become the safety, health and wellbeing profession. Another straw in the wind is Ibec’s KeepWell Mark. So when the Authority’s inspectors visit your workplace, expect to be asked how your organisation is complying with the statutory requirements to protect workers’ health from risks such as exposure to noise or dust, questions about the use of the Authority’s Work Positive tool and mental health, and workers’ wellbeing.

Inspections under OSH Legislation
Of the planned 10,435 inspections, 9,150 will be carried out under health and safety legislation (OSH inspections) and 1,285 under chemicals legislation.

The Authority will carry out:

  • 4,000 construction sector inspections, with the focus on small construction companies and the self-employed – tucked away under the chemicals legislation programme, which means it could be missed on a quick read of the Programme of Work, is that specialist support will be provided to construction inspectors, which suggests those inspectors will also be looking at asbestos, other carcinogens, legionella, the use of respiratory equipment and safety data sheets;
  • 2,000 farm sector inspections, of which 1,200 will be carried out during inspection campaigns, with the focus on livestock, vehicle and work-at-height safety;
  • 800 manufacturing plant inspections, which will be risk-based and concentrate on OSH management systems;
  • 450 wholesale/retail sector inspections, which will focus on management systems, workplace transport and load securing;
  • 250 accommodation/food sector inspections, which will concentrate OSH management systems;
  • 250 transport/storage sector inspections, targeting driving for work, workplace transport and load securing risk management;
  • 240 mines and quarries inspections, which will focus on vehicle movements and management systems;
  • 140 healthcare sector inspections, focusing on manual and patient handling;
  • 130 sewerage, waste water and refuse sector inspections, covering OSH management, vehicle risks, workplace transport and load securing;
  • 100 inspections in the public administration/defence sector, focusing on OSH management systems;
  • 50 forestry and 50 fishing industry inspections, with the focus in fishing on safety statements and in forestry on the Code of Practice for the sector.

The Authority plans to carry out 690 inspections in sectors such as electricity/gas, water, financial services, insurance, real estate, ICT, education and administrative services.

The Authority plans to hold two one-week construction inspection campaigns. The first will be from June 11th to 23rd and will focus on occupational health. The second will be between October 23rd and November 3rd. The theme for the campaign is excavators

The Authority currently has 17 items under review in its legislation and codes of practice programme. Given the length of time it takes for draft legislation coming from the Authority to be legally vetted and enacted, this must (though they do not say it) be a source of frustration for the Authority’s officials and inspectors drafting proposed legislation.

Of the 17 items under review, five – Quarries, Mines, Diving, Offshore/Onshore Drilling and the use of Work Equipment (General Application) Regulations – are with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for legal settlement. These are the regulations closest to enactment. Eight regulations are being reviewed, or, as it is put in the Programme of Work, “the Authority is providing technical and drafting assistance to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation”. Three of the items are intriguing: a proposal to review the SHWW Act 2005 and amendments to the Construction and Quarries Regulations. Some detail on what is being considered would be useful.

Four Codes of Practice are being reviewed:

  • the Codes on Avoiding Danger from Overhead Lines
  • Rider Operated Fork Lift Trucks
  • the Chemicals Agents Regulations
  • the Code of Practice on Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work; at the request of Minister Breen.

One of the most valuable contributions the Authority makes in its efforts to assist employers and safety advisors is the seminars and conferences it organises. This year, over 20 are planned. Apart from the major health event, in November, the annual Farm Safety Conference and a series of ergonomic seminars will be held in October.

Change in the HSA
The programme is the last in the current three-year strategy. Currently the Authority is working on its strategy for the three-year period 2019-2021.

With Brian Higgisson having already left the Authority and Martin O’Halloran due to leave at the end of June, it will be interesting to see if any new ideas emerge and if those ideas will give an insight into the incoming chief executive’s approach – although many themes will be carried over from the current strategy in any case.
Given that there is a requirement for photographic identification on cards, the judge held it was reasonable for SOLAS to place a time limit on the duration of a card. However, once an updated photo is provided, it does not mean that SOLAS can refuse to renew a card on its expiry.

Then, turning to SOLAS’s right to require a person renewing a card to be reassessed or self-certify, he held that a FETAC (SOLAS) shotfiring card is akin to a university degree or other qualification: it is recognition that a qualification was obtained and that Mr O’Connell or persons in a similar situation have a continuing entitlement to a registration card.

In the course of the judgment, Mr Justice Humphreys made the following points:
 He rejected the idea that the Quarries and Construction Regulations had only one purpose, the promotion of safety. They were also intended to give effect to the EU Directive on the Recognition of Qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) and so facilitate the free movement of people within the EU. Enforcement of the Quarries and Construction Regulations is primarily a matter for the HSA.

There is nothing in the regulations which makes qualification dependent upon post-award on-going experience, self-certification, auditing or continuing assessment and such a requirement would be a restriction on the rights of a qualification holder. There is no basis in the statute to hold that on-going assessment should be carried out by SOLAS, as opposed to the HSA. Qualifications are separate and distinct from ongoing competence. Qualifications are a matter for SOLAS and competence is a matter for the HSA.

Download the HSA Programme for Work 2018

European Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2018-2019

The theme for the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2018-19, organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), is ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks posed by dangerous substances in the workplace and to promote a culture of risk prevention to eliminate and, where that’s not possible, effectively manage these risks.

Many workers across Europe are affected by exposure to dangerous substances. In recent decades some substances, such as asbestos (which causes serious and in some cases fatal lung diseases) have been banned, restricted or subjected to strict regulatory control. However, dangerous substances continue to be a major safety and health issue in some workplaces.

For the purposes of this campaign, a dangerous substance in the workplace is any substance, in gas, liquid or solid form, including aerosols, fumes and vapours, that poses a risk to workers’ health or safety. This includes manufactured chemicals, process-generated substances, such as diesel exhaust or silica dust, and naturally occurring substances used in work processes such as crude oil or flour dust.

The campaign will be formally launched in April 2018 but introductory material can be accessed on the campaign website now.  For any further details about the campaign theme, European Safety Week or how to get involved, please contact

Newsbites April 2018


Trim Circuit Court has fined a company €125,000 after an industrial accident which left an employee with four fingers amputated. Judge Michael O’Shea made the decision to issue the fine to Kilsaran Concrete ULC, after the company had previously pleaded guilty to the breach of safety regulations.

The court heard that, on 15 May 2014, employee Tomas Moran was cleaning the dosing section of a machine involved in the manufacturing of concrete products when he had four of his fingers amputated. An investigation from the Health and Safety Authority found that there was no safe system of work in place to clean the machine involved in the accident. An employee of the company was killed in September 2011 while working on the same machine. Earlier this year, the Court of Criminal Appeal increased the fine handed down to Kilsaran for that incident from €125,000 to €1 million.


New figures from the Health and Safety Authority show that there were 47 fatal accidents last year, up one from 46 the year before. Of the 47, 24 deaths were recorded in the agriculture, making it the eighth year in a row that the sector had the highest number of deaths.

Elderly farmers are the most at risk group, with 14 killed last year while working. ”We have seen fourteen elderly farmers killed this year, many of them working alone at the time of the accident,said HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran. “Finding supports for elderly farmers or farmers working alone is something that needs to be addressed. The Health and Safety Authority will continue to do its part through inspection, awareness raising and education but safe farming has to happen every day, not just after an inspection.” he said.

After agriculture, the construction and transport sectors had the highest number of fatalities, with six deaths each. Five people died in the public administration and defence sector, making it the fourth most at risk group. Across all sectors, accidents involving vehicles accounted for 21 of all deaths last year. A total of six people died from falls from height, making it the next most common cause. The majority of deaths (28) involved 18-65-year-old men. Dublin, Mayo and Cork recorded the highest number of deaths, with six each.

We have over 2 million people at work and this is a positive development. However, this will lead to increased traffic and movement of vehicles in workplaces creating hazards that must be managed,” said O’Halloran. “Regardless of the sector, where we have people and vehicles moving in close proximity, the danger is elevated.


For everyone with an interest in the safety, health and welfare of people at work, April 28th is an important date. It’s the date every year when trade union and employer groups worldwide, as well as individual organisations, remember those who have been killed or injured in work-related accidents.

Colleagues from Congress, Ibec, the Health and Safety Authority and Construction Industry Federation will come together to mark the occasion with a programme of joint awareness raising initiatives.  To mark the day there are a range of initiatives that your organisation should consider including:

Get involved by using the national Workers’ Memorial Day Ireland logo on your website, social media presence, presentations, email signatures, displays and in offices and workplaces

  • In-house training sessions or a toolbox talk
  • Website/Social Media/Newsletter content
  • Guest speaker presentation to your staff
  • Press release to your local/national media marking your event / the day.

Worker safety and health is everyone’s business and can only be tackled through a collaborative approach. April 28th presents an important opportunity to remember and to consolidate everyone’s focus around a single day. Please mark the date in your calendar and make the commitment to contribute to this most important challenge.

Health & Safety Week

ASM completed a safety standard down on our projects in Danone Wexford this morning to mark Health & Safety week. We completed a workshop with the contractors on relevant focus topics which included

  • Plant & Machinery
  • Working at heights
  • Occupational Health – Dust
  • Mental Health




ASM Project Spotlight – Harvey Norman New Flagship Store, Tallaght

ASM Group were involved as PSDP on a new flagship store for Harvey Norman in Tallaght Dublin. This project was a fit out installation of an existing warehouse to the required specification from the client. It involved some complex design and installation of mezz flooring within the space. The design team included J E Keating & Associates Architects, Lohan & Donnelly Consulting Engineers as structural engineers and RM Breen Associates as Mechanical and Electrical Engineers. The project duration was 3 months and the store opening 4 weeks ago.

HSA Reports Lowest Number of Fatalities Since 2009

During 2017 forty-six* people were killed in workplace accidents and 8,381 injuries were reported to the HSA, who during the year carried out 10,477 inspections and accident investigations which resulted in formal enforcement action being taken in 790 cases and written advice notes being issued in 4,301 cases.

The figures are revealed in the HSA’s Annual Report 2016 and Authority’s Summary of Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics 2015-2016 reports which were published this morning.

The number of fatalities reported is the lowest since 2009 when 43 people died in workplace accidents. The number of four day plus injures reported is the highest since the year 2000 when 9,108 injuries were reported.

Twenty people were killed in farm accidents and nine in construction accidents. The majority of those killed (51%) were self-employed, while 42% were employees, five percent were members of the public and 2% trainees. Four people died in accidents in the industrial sector (mining/quarrying, manufacturing, gas/electricity and water supply/waste). Four died in fisheries accidents. Two were killed in both the wholesale/retail and administrative support sectors, with one each in transport/storage, health/social work, forestry and other NACE categories.

Non-Fatal Injuries and Illnesses

Of the 8,381 injuries reported to the HSA manual handing at 33% topped the list of causes, followed by falls on the same level (slips/trips/falls) at 20%, aggression/shock/violence 6%, body movement with no physical stress 6%, falls from height 5% and loss of control of transport or equipment 4%. The injuries suffered were to the back (23%), finger (9%), leg (8%), hand (7%), shoulder (7%), arm (6%) and ankle (6%).

The Statistical Report includes figures gathered by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in Quarterly National Household Survey. These figures relate to 2015. During 2015 a total of 16,905 people reported being out of work for four days plus because of a work-related injury, while 18,454 reported being absent because of a work-related illness.

The CSO figures for workdays lost relate to all injuries and illnesses reported, whether the absence was for more or less than four days. The figures show a total of 1,723,104 workdays were lost because of injuries and illnesses (810,899 because of injuries and 912,595 because of illnesses). Figures from the Department of Social Protection’s Occupation Injury Benefits scheme show that during 2016 a total of 631,988 workdays were lost (see HSR. January/February 2017, pg3). The average duration of OIB claims was 60 days.

Inspections and Enforcement

The Authority carried out a total of 10,477 inspections and accident investigations, of which 9,362 were inspections and 1,115 were investigations because of accidents, dangerous occurrences or complaints. Of the 9,362 inspections, 8,156 were carried out under OSH legislation and 1,206 under chemicals legislation.

Practically 45% of the OSH inspections (3,664) were construction inspections and over 25% (2,151) were farm inspections. Of the remaining 30% of OSH inspections 669 inspections were carried out in manufacturing sector, 398 in the wholesale/retail sector, 242 in mines and quarries, 195 in healthcare, 187 in transport/storage, 123 in waste collection and 120 in the public sector. Under chemicals legislation 616 occupational hygiene, 328 transport of dangerous goods/ADR/TPE and 101 COMAH inspections were carried out.

According to the Annual Report enforcement action was taken in 10,202 cases. The term enforcement action can be divided into two categories: formal, which has a statutory legal basis and informal.

The Authority issued 413 prohibition notices and 369 improvement notices/directions. The report does not state how many prosecutions were initiated. However only 17 were completed, one more than in 2015 when 16 were completed, which is the lowest number on record in the modern era. This is not necessarily the fault of the Authority and may be due to court delays and the limited resources of the DPP’s office, as well of course the long-term impact of the cutbacks on the HSA’s resources during the recession.

While described as enforcement actions, written advice and verbal advice is guidance issued to help and prompt employers to take action to improve safety. The Authority issued 4,301 written advice notes and delivered 5,111 verbal advice messages.

The reports have been published on the Authority’s website,* In the Statistical Report, the number of fatalities is recorded as forty-five. After the report was produced an ongoing investigation determined that a fatality was work related, though previously it had not been deemed to be so.