Budget cuts may compromise workers’ safety

Ireland’s four-year budget plan could put the safety and wellbeing of workers at risk as managers look to cut costs, Ireland’s leading professional health and safety body has warned.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH ) Ireland Branch fears proposals to cut public sector jobs and the minimum wage could result in excessive working hours, ageing equipment, and lack of training — the “hidden dangers” of budget deficit reduction.

The Government is aiming to save €15 billion from 2011 to 2014 in tandem with its bailout worth €85bn. “We do not wish to enter into the political debate, but we would urge hard-pressed managers in both the public and private sectors to at least maintain health and safety standards and consider the impact of any changes on their staff and business,” said IOSH Ireland Branch chair Declan Gibney.

“When looking to meet savings targets, corners can end up being cut when it comes to properly safeguarding the health and safety of staff.

“The dangers posed by cost-cutting to people involved in delivering or using public services are hidden behind all the talk of how fast and by how much our country’s budget deficit is reduced.

“We want the Irish Government to think about the implications of impending cutbacks on the safety, health, and wellbeing not only of employees, but of the people who use services.”

The chartered body called on the Government to ensure its managers are well-trained and follow sensible health and safety guidelines as they look at where and how to cut costs.

Mr Gibney added: “In 2009, 43 people were killed at work and in 2008 an estimated 17,900 people suffered an injury that forced them to take more than three days off work.

“These statistics are too high, but by setting out clear advice to managers about how savings can be made without putting people at greater risk of stress, injury and illness, the Government will avoid adding to this terrible toll.”

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