Health & Safety in Ireland

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out the main provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of people at work. The law applies to all places of work regardless of how many workers are employed.

Employers are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace including hazard identification and risk assessment. Work activities are to be managed and conducted to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of people at work.

Employees also have duties to cooperate with their employer with regard to safety, health and welfare at work, to comply with relevant laws and to protect their own, and others, health and safety.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 came into operation on the 1st November 2007. These regulations replace, simplify and update 25 existing sets of regulations and orders and implement the EU Amended Use of Work Equipment Directive.

Areas covered by these regulations include:

  • The workplace
  • Use of work equipment
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Manual handling
  • Display screen equipment
  • Electricity
  • Work at height
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Vulnerable workers
  • Explosive atmospheres

Lifting Equipment

The regulations have requirements for the thorough examination of lifting equipment. The frequency of thorough examination is either 6 monthly or 12 monthly, dependent on duty and, where immediate withdrawal from use of lifting equipment is specified, a copy of the report of examination has to be forwarded to the Health and Safety Authority.

Certain types of equipment are exempted from thorough examination and these include: escalators, conveyors, platform lifts up to 1.2m, bottle jacks, pallet trucks.

Load testing requirements are specified for lifting equipment after alteration or repair, excavators used as lifting equipment and mobile cranes at 4 years and tower cranes at each erection.

Pressure Vessels

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application)(Amendment) Regulations 2012 have added part 10 to the 2007 regulations covering pressure vessels, effective from 1st January 2013. The existing Boiler Explosions Acts and the relevant parts of the Factories Acts 1955 have been repealed. Specific requirements are included for the design, construction, safe operation, examination, testing, reporting and maintenance of pressure equipment.

Employers who are owners or users of pressure equipment are required to ensure the following:

  • Pressure equipment is properly designed and constructed and suitable for use
  • Safe operating limits have been established
  • Suitable instructions and information are provided to operators
  • A maintenance file is kept for each pressure system
  • A competent person is consulted before significant repairs are undertaken
  • New pressure equipment is examined by a competent person prior to use
  • Periodic examinations are carried out when due
  • Reports of examination are kept
  • A register of pressure vessels is maintained
  • Pressure vessels are properly marked
  • Information is passed on if pressure equipment is sold

Examination requirements for pressure vessels containing a relevant fluid are specified at 14 month intervals for steam generating boilers and 26 month intervals for other pressure vessels although these frequencies can be varied by a written justification from a competent person.

There are exceptions to the regulations including, transportable pressure equipment, refrigeration systems < 25kW, engines, turbines, compressors, hydraulic systems except accumulators and small, low pressure vessels.