Compliance is Essential for Success – Don’t get “Court” out!
Having learned the lessons of the past, health and safety in the workplace is a vital issue nowadays, especially on modern construction sites. After all, construction remains one of the riskiest sectors in which to work. According to Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority, a large percentage of fatalities in the workplace over the past eight years have been in the construction industry. Figures clearly demonstrate that more stringent health and safety regulations have resulted in decreasing the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries, but that doesn’t mean we should become complacent – there are still improvements to be made.
Compliance with health and safety regulations is essential for any construction company and in some instances, guidance or the Code of Practice will require that a specific syllabus or level of training is undertaken to carry out a operation or deal with a specific hazard. Regulatory compliance presents a challenge to the construction industry because the number and reach of the regulations involved is extensive and covers such diverse areas as the health and safety of the workforce, the efficacy of the materials and products used, and the legality of construction contracts.
Despite the challenges, companies have no choice but to comply as there are powerful inspection and enforcement processes that have the full weight of the law behind them. Tough penalties are handed out to those who fail to comply, and the onus is on construction companies to manage their regulatory obligations and ensure compliance to avoid falling foul of these laws.
With SMEs accounting for so many construction companies, the very nature of these smaller businesses means that they are particularly vulnerable to adverse health and safety incidents. This is a serious issue as it’s been discovered that SMEs are less likely to comply with health and safety regulations due to fears that compliance will adversely affect their economic performance.
Nothing could be further from the truth – non-compliance brings with it the risk of hefty fines which often lead to liquidation for small companies. Statistics demonstrate that it’s is more economically viable to remedy non-compliance than it is to face the direct and indirect consequences of an accident in the workplace. The direct costs are visible and include insurance, compensation and medical charges. Indirect costs are non-visible and include lost labour time, cost of repairs and costs of replacing injured workers.
The main legislation that provides for the health and safety of those in the workplace here in Ireland are the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005 and 2010. These laws apply to all employers, employees and self-employed people in their workplaces and can easily be accessed from the Health and Safety Authority’s website.
The Health and Safety Authority employs Inspectors who have the power to enter any place of work at any reasonable time. The Inspector will check the Safety Statement and any company found to be non-compliant will face legal action. This is the case whether an accident has occurred or not – the main aim of this legislation is to prevent accidents from occurring, rather than to prosecute companies after an accident has happened.
This is the reason why it’s vital for construction companies to ensure that they remain compliant with legislation, ensuring that equipment is safe to use, that a proper risk assessment is carried out before work commences and that all team members have been adequately trained to use the equipment and carry out the work at hand. The penalties for non-compliance are based on the financial status of the company involved – larger companies with a higher turnover are facing heftier fines. This is because, in the past, some large corporations have found it cheaper to pay fines than to comply with legislation. With the lives and livelihoods of employees involved, this unacceptable situation had to be addressed in some way.
If you want to make sure your construction company complies with current health and safety at work legislation, making sure that you and your workforce are adequately trained and knowledgeable on current legislation is a vital responsibility. This type of training shouldn’t interrupt your day to day operations which is why we offer one day courses designed to help you make sure your company complies with all current legislation.