28th April 2019
Minister Pat Breen TD urges all employers to ensure a safe working environment
Sunday 28th April marks Workers Memorial Day which is an international day to remember people who have been killed and injured at work and, in particular, to remember those left behind to mourn them.
In Ireland, Workers Memorial Day is organised on a collaborative basis by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Congress), the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Ibec and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
Speaking at a commemorative event in Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum to mark the day Pat Breen TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection commended the organisers and said that “a safe and healthy working environment is a basic legitimate expectation for all workers and it is an expectation that must always be met”.
Minister Breen stated that “while Ireland has, at this stage, what can be regarded as an advanced economy in parallel with a well-established worker health and safety regime, people are still losing their lives at work. Behind the statistics there are families, children and friends struggling to deal with grief, loss and changed circumstances. Our thoughts are with them today”.
Minister Breen said “Establishing a safe system of working does not have to be costly or complicated for a business but a fatality or an injury caused by a work activity will indeed be costly on many fronts. There are simply no excuses for poor safety standards. The Health and Safety Authority has a wide range of advisory, educational and support tools available to all businesses to help them meet their obligations and to put in place safe systems of work whatever the nature of the business might be”.
The Minister said that while the Irish economy is performing strongly, with the highest levels of employment in years, Ireland needs to continue to develop as an innovative economy and be capable of coping with international technological changes and emerging trends and opportunities. He highlighted the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland (#futurejobsireland) initiative which is a framework of objectives to develop Ireland’s medium-term economic agenda.
Minister Breen pointed out that one of these objectives is to increase participation in the labour force. Attracting and retaining people will, amongst other things, require adherence to the highest standards of safety in the workplace. Prevention of fatalities is paramount, of course, but life-changing injuries and illnesses bring their own negative long-term consequences for workers. Resultant work absences also take their toll on the productivity and competitiveness of a business, especially SMEs and micro-enterprises, and put a financial burden on the State’s social security system.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department also has a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.
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