Council safety record praised

The level of work accidents concerning council staff in Westmeath is well below the national average, according to a report presented to councillors this week.

In 2010 to date 12 minor accidents have been reported by council staff, with the main causes being slips and falls, manual handling, and one case where an employee was struck by a falling object. The majority were minor injuries, with the most serious resulting in one person remaining in hospital overnight.

Figures for the previous three years reveal there were 23 incidents concerning staff in 2009, 16 in 2008, and 15 in 2007. Westmeath County Council’s safety officer Enda Hanniffy also confirmed that the reporting of minor accidents and incidents is improving.

While 11 inspections have been carried out by the Health and Safety Authority so far this year, no prohibition or improvement notices have been issued to the council. The HSA has on occasion complimented the staff and the council on the high standard of health and safety systems and culture, while of course emphasising the need for continuous improvement.

Nationally, there have been 35 council staff fatalities at work this year to date, including fatalities at a water treatment plant and on the M7 construction.

Mr Hanniffy assured councillors of his intention to provide ongoing health and safety training and to improve staff awareness of hazards and risks.

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