Maurice Quinlivan raised his concerns with Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys | PICTURE: MICHAEL COWHEY
LIMERICK TD Maurice Quinlivan says the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) need more powers and funding to ensure people can return to work safely.
The Sinn Fein TD, who is his part’s spokesperson on workers’ rights, was speaking with thousands potentially returning to offices, shop floors and other workplaces in the weeks to come as Covid-19 restrictions are loosened.
After raising the issue with Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys, he said: “The HSA have been given a huge task to monitor and enforce compliance with the public health advice, for employees returning to their place of work. It’s essential this agency is provided with extra funding, as this is an enormous task on top of their usual workload.”
In 2019, figures show the HSA had 104 full-time equivalent staff, something Mr Quinlivan says needs to be increased.
He also warned the HSA cannot be “toothless” when it comes to clamping down on safety breaches.
“I also questioned Minister Humphreys on whether she is satisfied the HSA has strong enough enforcement powers for those businesses who cut corners and do not comply with safety guidelines. Strong powers are needed, not just to enforce the regulations, but also as a deterrent to those thinking of cutting corners. In the vast majority of cases these powers will not be required, as employers will do their utmost to ensure the safety of workers,” he said.