Responding to the Government’s proposal to absorb the Health and Safety Authority (HSA ) in a new Business Inspection and Licensing Authority (BILA ), the National Irish Safety Organisation (NISO ) is instead proposing the establishment of a national safety authority covering occupational, road, rail, aviation, maritime, fire, farm and public safety to create efficiencies without negating the role of various health and safety agencies.
Speaking at the NISO annual general meeting, the organisation's president, Pauric Corrigan, said NISO is seeking a meeting with the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton, to voice concerns about the proposed BILA.
The present Government is proposing merging the HSA, National Employment Rights Authority (NERA ), the Equality Authority, and the National Consumer Agency. Mr Corrigan said that NISO was opposed to the merger as it had been with the earlier McCarthy report when it was proposed that the HSA merge with NERA.
Harry Galvin, honorary secretary of NISO, added that changes to save an estimated €5 million must be looked at in the context of overall safety costs which have been estimated to cost the economy €3.6bn. He said NISO’s concern about the proposed merger arises from the “danger of industrial relations matters becoming confused and in some cases used in the safety arena”. When this happens “scarce resources could be deployed to resolve industrial relations matters, which would better be directed towards improving safety in the workplace.”
Mr Galvin has suggested a merger of different agencies into a national safety board which would have divisions for occupational, road, rail, maritime, aviation, fire, farm and public safety. A national safety board would have great flexibility in dealing with all forms of safety. It would have the advantage of bringing expertise together under one leadership. The experts could be used to support each other in the promotion of health and safety and accidents investigations.