In Ireland, the main legislation providing for the health and safety of people in the workplace is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 . This Act consolidates and updates the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 1989. It applies to all employers, employees (including fixed-term and temporary employees) and self-employed people in their workplaces. The Act sets out the rights and obligations of both employers and employees and provides for substantial fines and penalties for breaches of the health and safety legislation.
The duties of employees while at work include the following:
- To take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and of other people in the workplace
- Not to engage in improper behaviour that will endanger themselves or others
- Not to be under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace
- To undergo any reasonable medical or other assessment if requested to do so by the employer
- To report any defects in the place of work or equipment which might be a danger to health and safety
The employer has a duty to ensure the employees’ safety, health and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable. 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 behaviour 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
The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcing health and safety at work in Ireland. It provides information to employers, employees and self-employed people on workplace health and safety.