Cabinet discusses HSA powers - should have power to inspect, shut down & fine
Keelings & the meat factories should be top of the list for inspections
Workers should elect safety committees as per 2005 act
Press Statement Friday, May 1, 2020
Responding to reports that the cabinet today will finally consider the calls to empower the Health & Safety Authority to inspect workplaces and enforce the Covid-19 guidelines, Paul Murphy TD said:
“Hopefully today the government will give the HSA the powers they need to tackle companies who are making workers work without proper physical distancing measures. Keelings and the meat factories should be top of the list to be inspected.
“For weeks now we have been in a twilight zone where we’ve been reporting companies breaching the guidelines to the HSA, but they have been refusing to actually inspect the sites. The government today should issue a ministerial order, giving them the power to inspect the sites, fine companies breaking the rules and shut down non-essential workplaces.
“Reports indicate the government are considering inspections and orders to shut, but so far have not considered fines. There cannot be one law for ordinary people and another for businesses. If you walk 2km from your home, you face fines and even jail. Bosses breaking the guidelines must face similar sanctions.
“Workplaces should also be encouraged to elect safety representatives and committees, to make sure bosses don’t cut corners and put workers at risk. And we must make sure everyone knows that workers are legally entitled to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, and cannot be punished for that.”
Note: Section 25 of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 provides for the election of safety representatives in work wth powers to inspect any part of the workplace, investigate dangers and complaints and link in with other workplaces and with health and safety inspactors.
Section 27 allows workers to refuse to work in unsafe conditions with fear of penalisation.