67 active HSA inspectors not enough – ‘Cop On’ is not a policy

18 May 2020
  • Proactive inspection regime with more staffing needed

Responding to the revelation on Today with Sarah McInerney this morning that there were only 67 active HSA inspectors in the country, and the call from the Minister for Health for collective ‘cop on’, Labour Employment Affairs spokesperson Ged Nash said:

“With construction sites reopened and over 150,000 workers returning to those sites today, alongside the reopening of many other workplaces we need a proactive inspection regime to ensure safety.

“The news that there are only 67 active Health and Safety Agency inspectors available this week is not good enough, and for the Minister for Health to urge collective ‘cop on’ is not a realistic policy to protect workers. The hands off policy from Fine Gael is not good enough.

“It is also not clear whether HSA inspectors are only responding to complaints rather than proactively going out into the community and looking at what social distancing and protective measures are in place for workers.

“I’ve been flagging this issue for weeks now and I am deeply concerned at the hands off approach to date from the Minister for Business, and the laissez faire attitude of the Minister for Health.

“Last Thursday in the Dáil I raised this directly with the Minister for Business, saying that there had to be urgent attention to ensure social distancing is enforced, and that employees can work in a safe environment.

“It is not clear why the HSA has not been directed to hire more staff when there are approximately only 100 inspectors in total.

“Enforcement will only succeed with enough inspectors on the ground. We know there have already been 200 complaints over breaches of Covid-10 guidelines but none seem to have resulted in workplace inspections.

“Workers also need to have confidence that they can make a complaint without fear of later being victimised by their employer. That’s why the Minister also needs to give direction on how she intends to protect complainants from potential victimisation by their employers?”

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