Date Released: 28 April 2014
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions said today (April 28) that workers’ health and safety was not a ‘luxury’ to be dispensed with when budgetary constraints dictated and called for full resourcing and strict enforcement of safety regulations, to prevent death or injury at work.
The call was made by Congress General Secretary David Begg at an event to mark Worker’s Memorial Day 2014 - an international day of remembrance for those killed, injured or made unwell by their work.
Mr Begg unveiled a commemorative plaque at a special dedication ceremony at the headquarters of the Communications’ Workers Union (CWU), in Dublin. The event also saw the participation of Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health & Safety Authority; Labour MEP for Dublin, Emer Costello; Eamon Devoy, Chair of the Congress Health & Safety Committee; Terry Delaney, Deputy General Secretary of the CWU and Sylvester Cronin, the Workers’ member for Ireland on the board of EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work.
Speaking at the event, Mr Begg said:
“As we gather to mark Workers’ Memorial Day 2014, we should remember that the health and safety of working people is not a luxury that can be dispensed with as budgetary constraints dictate. No family should ever see a loved one arrive home from work in a coffin or on a stretcher. Doing our utmost to prevent death and injury in the workplace must be a given, not an afterthought. And that requires proper resources combined with a rigorous inspection regime and strict enforcement. That is the only fitting tribute we could pay to the memory of those who have lost their lives or been injured at work.”
Speaking about the theme of the day, Martin O’Halloran CEO of the Health and Safety Authority said:
“While we never forget those that have died, we must also remember those that have been injured, disabled or made unwell by work activity. It is also important to build on the work done and protect the welfare of the workers of today and tomorrow. We must all work together to ensure economic recovery and increased employment does not lead to an increase in death, injury and ill-health in workplaces. The principles of prevention and encouraging meaningful engagement between employee representatives and employers, in relation to workplace safety, health and welfare, are key to this.”
Labour MEP for Dublin, Emer Costello said:
"It is not acceptable that almost 5,000 workers across Europe, including 47 in Ireland, died in workplace accidents last year. Good health and safety rules are absolutely essential in the workplace. The 2007-13 EU Health & Safety strategy cut workplace accidents by 25%, but a replacement strategy has yet to be put in place. Europe must adopt a new strategy for the next seven years - one that addresses the challenges of the 21st century - increased use of chemicals and incidences of musculoskeletal disorders, work-related cancers, and stress as well as the ageing of the workplace. Europe’s workplaces must be safe places."
The event was also supported by EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work. Speaking from the head office in Bilbao Dr. Christa Sedlatachek, the EU-OSHA Director, said:
“On Workers' Memorial Day worldwide, we are reminded that we should never fall into the trap of complacency when it comes to workplace health and safety. In these very challenging times, it is easy to heed the rhetoric which portrays health and safety as a burden or a cost. This is wrong and there is plenty of evidence to prove it is wrong.
“I wish the Irish Congress of Trade Unions the very best of success in its work. We very much value its partnership with EU-OSHA. We are commemorating this day in Bilbao, in Brussels, in Dublin and across the globe today. To all of the organisations in Ireland engaged in keeping workplaces healthy and safe and more productive, thank you for your collaboration. We must all continue our work for many reasons, and not least to honour the memory of those who have suffered.”