Don’t Break the Law

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Don’t Break the Law

Manual Handling Course Protects Employers from Criminal Prosecution

As an employer in Ireland you are legally bound to “provide information, instruction, training and supervision regarding safety and health to all employees”.   It does not matter how many people you employ, in what sector you employ them in, or what their duties are.  In fact, an employee that works in an office environment where they may lift something no heavier that a ream of photocopier paper, is also covered under the legislation; Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.  As an employer, failure to meet these obligations can result in fines, imprisonment, your business being closed down or significant impact on your business insurance.

Workplace injuries and deaths are on the rise*.  Already in 2016 there has been a staggering 11 lives lost to accidents at work. This is against a backdrop of 56 fatalities in 2015 and 55 in 2014.  Health and Safety is key when it comes to avoiding such tragic incidents.  According to the European Union’s Statistics Office, Ireland ranks above the European average for fatal accidents in the workplace.

Of late, Health and Safety case law shows that faults by employers are more and more leading to the criminal prosecution of employers as individuals.  Under section 80 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, employers can be held liable and prosecuted if safety and health is managed inefficiently.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

This act puts duties of care on employers to manage and conduct their undertakings so as to be safe for employees.  In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health the employer is required, among other things, to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe workplace which uses safe plant and equipment
  • Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk
  • Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
  • Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees
  • Appointing a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer

In the event of an incident occurring with an employee there is an onerous obligation on the employer to demonstrate to a court that they carried out all that could be reasonable expected of them under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

Therefore in the current climate it is vital for senior management and health and safety managers of companies to have a vigorous and proactive attitude to managing safety and health at work. These issues cannot simply be dealt with as they arise. They need to be fully aware of the standard they must meet in order to avoid or defend a prosecution under Section 80., it has arguably never been more important for directors and senior management not only to comply with the law but also to protect themselves and their organisation from criminal prosecution.

Gross Breach of Duty of Care

In tragic circumstances a businessman was due to stand trial in 2015 for the unlawful killing of one of his employees at a caravan park more than three years ago.  An expert who spoke at an inquest said that the employer had provided inadequate health and safety training before the caravan collapsed on the worker and crushed him to death.  According to an environmental health officer who was investigating the incident; there was no risk assessment carried out, nor were safe systems of work in place when the employee was killed. The married site worker was attempting to put a jack in place before changing a wheel when the ageing mobile home fell on his back in February 2012.

The businessman was accused of corporate manslaughter through a “gross breach” of its duty of care and a failure to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.

The accused pleaded guilty to charges of corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety regulations in that there was a failure to “ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees”.

Blended Manual Handling Course

At we provide a blended Manual Handling Course, which has an interactive and self-paced theory element that encourages greater long-term memory retention.

This leaves a FETAC Level 6 qualified trainer to focus their attentions on assessing the risk for the individual in the workplace, the performance of the individual in the workplace and to conduct a physical invigilation of that employee with regards to manual handling.

Don’t be reactive, Act now!  Contact us here.

We hope you enjoyed reading our blog today on “Manual Handling Course Protects Employers from Criminal Prosecution”.

If you would like to read further on this subject, “avoid accidents and get compliant with just click here.

*Irish Times, Charlie Taylor.  “Firms seeking safety training as workplace fatalities increase”.