In the last 10 years 500 Irish workers have died as a result of workplace accidents, more than the number that died during the Easter Rising. Many thousands more have been badly injured. Last year, an average of more than one person each week died in a work-related accident.
So today is not just about remembering; it is also about taking positive steps to reduce risk and further improve safety into the future. It is about ensuring that future deaths and injuries are avoided.
Thankfully we have made enormous progress and the standards and practices now upheld in Irish workplaces are among the best in the world. Greater awareness of safety and health issues, combined with more robust legislation and standards, have made Irish workplaces safer. As a result, the number of workers who have died each year in their place of work has fallen by more than half over the last 25 years. This is an important achievement, but we have to constantly work to reduce this figure even further.
Ibec and our member companies are committed to playing our part in further reducing the numbers of fatalities and accidents at work.
Employers are aware of their obligations and duty to promote safety and health awareness and best practice. Nobody wants to see fatalities or accidents at work where the human impact of such incidents is deeply harrowing for everyone concerned. A safe workplace provides a positive and productive working environment; accidents diminish the quality of working life and also have a severe economic impact on the people and companies affected.
Workers Memorial Day is a chance for all of us to re-focus on health and safety issues in the workplace. All employers and workers must place their own, and their colleagues’ personal safety, health and welfare at the centre of their thinking. Better workplace safety demands a relentless and meticulous focus that is embedded in an organisation’s culture, its work practices and is supported by the right procedures and management. It must be a priority at the very highest level.
By working together and promoting the practice of safety and health in workplaces throughout Ireland we can achieve a further significant drop in these unacceptable numbers.
We all have a responsibility to make sure that happens, and employers have an important role to play. Worker safety is everyone’s business – for all organisations, employers and workers.
Wednesday, 27 April 2016