Wednesday, 11 July 1973
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. O'Connell: asked the Minister for Labour the number of factory inspectors employed by his Department; if he is satisfied that this number is adequate; and if he will give details of their functions and workload.
Mr. M. O'Leary: There are 37 industrial inspectors at present serving in my Department. I expect to have six additional inspectors in service by September next and by the end of the year I hope to have 52 inspectors on the staff. Recruitment to this service is by way of open competition conducted by the Civil Service Commissioners.
It is the function of inspectors to visit factories, mines, quarries and building and construction sites in order to check on compliance with the general safety, health and welfare legislation. They investigate accidents and give evidence in court in cases of prosecutions. They investigate boiler explosions and they also check on compliance with certain aspects of the holidays legislation, the Conditions of Employment Acts and the Office Premises Acts.
Apart from their statutory functions, the inspectors provide a safety advisory service by way of advice on particular matters and lectures on wider aspects. They maintain close contact  with the National Industrial Safety Organisation.
I am satisfied that the workload of the inspectorate justifies the recruitment of the additional staff to which I referred. In addition to their existing duties, they will, in due course, have functions under the Dangerous Substances Act and I shall be keeping the whole situation under review.
Mr. J. Lynch: Perhaps the Minister has not got that information with him. Perhaps he would find out whether it is on the inspector's own initiative or does the Minister direct whether or not a prosecution should be taken?
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