Written Answers - Health and Safety Regulations.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 680 No. 4

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  208.  Deputy Brian Hayes  Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if his Department requires schools to produce a safety statement for each school here; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some schools pay specialist companies to provide such a statement at considerable cost to the school budget. [16041/09]

Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The requirement for a Health and Safety Statement for the work place is governed by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. This Act, which is regulated by the Health and Safety Authority, sets out the [922]main provisions for securing and improving the safety, health and welfare of people at work which includes the control of safety and health at work, the management and organisation of systems of work necessary to achieve these goals and the responsibilities and roles of employers, employees and others.

Under the Act, school authorities are responsible for managing safety, health and welfare in schools and for having a safety statement in place in their schools, to identify possible hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and put appropriate safeguards in place. In practical terms, individual school authorities are best placed to assess the detail of their own health and safety requirements and there are many information sources such as Codes of Practices, guidelines, legislation and standards available to support them in this task. It is a matter for schools to decide whether or not to employ an expert to carry out this work on their behalf and to meet the cost of so doing.

My Department is currently involved in developing health and safety guidelines to support post-primary schools in meeting their obligations under the prescribed legislation. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Health and Safety Authority, the State Claims Agency and the School Development Planning Initiative. The aim of the guidelines is to reduce the administrative burden on schools by assisting them in:

The planning and operation of an effective health and safety system

The evaluation of current policies and practices according to the highest standards of health and safety

Writing or up-dating their safety statements.

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