H&S Unit including Asbestos Management


This Unit’s objectives are:

  • H&S policy development and monitoring on behalf of the OPW;
  • H&S training programme in house and providing training services to other Government Departments;
  • Asbestos programme management;
  • Asbestos register update and maintenance (this is a core specialist service to all Government Departments).
Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005

The most significant primary legislation in this area is the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 which contains the general framework of rules aimed at preventing accidents and ill-health in the workplace. This legislation is in turn supplemented with a range of regulations aimed at specific issues or activities e.g. construction, chemicals, noise, vibration etc.

The importance of this legislation is evident when the human cost of accidents at work are considered. In Ireland each year, about 60 people die from accidents in their workplaces and this figure does not take into account deaths from work-related illnesses such as exposures to dangerous substances (e.g. asbestos). A further 15,000 people suffer serious injuries at work and it is estimated that over 1,000,000 work days are lost annually due to absences related to accidents and ill-health.

The purpose of the legislation is therefore to place an onus on employers to ensure that they have done everything `"reasonably practicable" (the 2005 Act actually gives a definition of this standard) to reduce the level of risk to their employees, contractors and members of the public. The essence of the employer's response to this legal requirement is the workplace or activity risk assessment. The important point to recognise with the 2005 Act is that the general duties it imposes cover all occupational safety and health risks.

The 2005 Act is further supplemented by specific regulation in areas of high risk, such as chemical exposures, biological agents etc. and in high risk activities such as construction. The most comprehensive set of regulations is the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 which set out specific requirements in a range of work activities (e.g. work equipment, work at height, exposures to noise and vibration etc.)

The H&S Unit can offer services and advice on a range of issues;

  • Preparation of workplace safety statements
  • Organising and devekloping workplace safety training
  • Construction safety and health plans
  • PSDP and PSCS roles
  • Design hazards and risks
  • Method statements
  • General hazard identification and risk assessment
  • Health and safety management systems
  • Safe system of work plans


H&S Newsletter Summer 2012

Visiting Skellig Michael - A Safety Guide