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Workplace Health

           Produced by

  Workplace Health Partnership
Protecting and Enhancing Health at Work

          Health and Safety Authority,
Occupational Health Nurses Association of Ireland
          North Western Health Board
             Western Health Board

SME Workplace Health Information Pack for Small
and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME’s)

This information pack has been developed by the Workplace Health Partnership –
West / North west region, to support and enable SME’s in the west and north west
of Ireland develop as healthy and safe workplaces.

It is hoped that this information pack will provide essential information, materials
and support to workplaces and in doing so ease the difficult burden of trying to
source information themselves. This information pack will also give workplaces the
opportunity to look at the importance of having a healthy and safe workplace for all
and provide simple and effective solutions.

Who is the ‘Workplace Health Partnership’?
The Workplace Health Partnership (west/north west region) was established in
December 2001. The group includes representatives from the
 Health Promotion services of the North Western & Western Health Boards
 The Occupational Health Nurses Association of Ireland, and
 the Health and Safety Authority.

The partnership group seeks to provide support to employers and organisations to
protect and enhance health and well-being at work. The mission of the Workplace
Health Partnership is to achieve an integrated approach, providing support to
protect and enhance health & well-being at work.

One of the key aims of the Partnership group is to recognise the diverse needs of all
workplaces particularly Small to Medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Why focus on Workplace Health?
The workplace has been identified as a key setting to promote the health of the adult
population (Department of Health & Children, 1999 & 2000)

Through the Cardiovascular Health Strategy (Department of Health & Children,
1999) Workplace Co-ordinators have been appointed in Health Promotion
Departments of all Health Boards. The aim of this work is to contribute to improving
the health & well-being of people at work.
Why focus on SME’s?
Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) make up majority of private sector
workplaces in the West / North west region (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo,
Donegal, Leitrim). SMEs also employ over 70% of people in the region, providing
opportunities to promote the health and well-being of a large section of the adult

However workplace health promotion and occupational health and safety has not
been prioritised in SMEs. This was highlighted by a report on the status of
workplace health promotion in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Europe
(European Network of Workplace Health Promotion, 2001), which stated that ‘little
attention has been given to the state of employee health in Irish SMEs’. In addition,
little is known about the support needs of SMEs. The European report highlighted
the need to develop a knowledge base of the needs of SMEs in this country.

How was this pack developed?

Delegates at a regional Workplace Health conference in the West / North West
region called for focus on SMEs and the development of a Workplace Health
support service for SMEs that would include information and advice on introducing
effective workplace health initiatives.

The aim of this information pack is to enable SME’s to develop as healthy and safe
workplaces. The information pack focuses on Occupational Health and Safety and
includes existing support leaflets for SMEs.

In developing this information pack models of good practice in the SME sector were
reviewed, in particular the Liverpool Health & Safety Support Project (Dugdill &
Springett, 2000) and the Lanarkshire Workplace Assessment service (HEBS).

The Liverpool Health & Safety Support Project sought to facilitate the development
of health & safety interventions in small businesses. Few smaller businesses had
effective safety measures in place and it was seen as necessary to meet the health
priorities of smaller businesses as part of a process to incorporate broader health
promotion activity. A facilitative rather than expert led approach was used and a user-
friendly health & safety starter pack was specifically designed for small businesses.

Lanarkshire Workplace Assessment Service was delivered to meet the needs. Of
SMEs, who form the majority of workplaces in the Lanarkshire area. Advisors in
Health Promotion and Health & Safety visited each workplace to carry out an
assessment and discuss issues with staff and management. The advisors then provided
a report for each company highlighting areas of assistance to facilitate change. A
toolkit for SMEs containing information on occupational health & safety and
workplace health promotion. Based on the success of this project, a National SME
Occupational Health Service has been set up in Scotland.

Elements of both models have been incorporated into this pack.
As part of the development of this pack a ‘Workplace Health Needs Assessment’ was
carried out with SME’s in county Roscommon in partnership with Roscommon
County Enterprise Board. SME’s outlined their need for information and support to
create healthier workplaces. The information gathered forms the bases of this
information pack.

This information pack will be evaluated at regular intervals.

The Workplace Health Partnership would like to take this opportunity to thank
all organisations, workplaces and agencies that contributed to the development
of this pack.

Section 1   Occupational Health and Safety
                         – Achieving a health and safe workplace together

Section 2   Workplace Health Promotion
                        – Promoting Health @ Work

Section 3   Occupational Health

Section 4   Local and National Support Organisations
                   Section 1


Achieving a healthy & safe working life – Together

                Health and Safety
Occupational Health & Safety


The objective of this Information Pack is to give general guidance aimed at the
prevention of accidents. It is not intended as a legal interpretation of occupational
safety, health and welfare legislation. Account should also be taken of codes of
practice that are appropriate and current.


The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is established under the Safety, Health and
Welfare at Work Act, l989. The full title for the HSA is the National Authority for
Occupational Safety and Health. We are a state-sponsored body, under the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. We operate under a Board with
employer and trade union representatives as well as ministerial nominees. We have
professional, technical and administrative staff based I our Headquarters in Dublin
with local offices in Athlone, Cork, Drogheda, Galway, Limerick, Sligo and


The HSA has an overall responsibility for the administration and enforcement of
health and safety at work in Ireland. The HSA monitors compliance with legislation at
the workplace and can take enforcement action (including prosecutions). We are the
national center for information and advice to employers, employees and self-
employed on all aspects of workplace health and safety. The Authority also promotes
education, training and research in the field.
Because safety is everybody’s responsibility there is always wide consultation with
employers, employees and their respective organizations. To help develop sound
policies and good workplace practices the authority works with various Advisory
Committees and Task Forces, etc., which focus on specific occupations or hazards.
The staff of the HSA serves the work force and the public by

      Promoting good standards of health and safety at work
      Inspecting all places of work and ensuring compliance with the law
      Investigating accidents and causes of ill health
      Carrying out and sponsor research
      Publishing guidance notes and advice
      Providing an information service
      Developing new laws and standards


      Ensure senior management are committed to a Safe and Healthy place of
      Give enough time to planning, organizing and controlling your work so as to
       be safe and without risk to Health?
      Appoint a competent person responsible for ensuring the safety, health and
       welfare at work of your employees?
      Check what actually happens and stop dangerous practices?
      Have someone to turn to if you need health and safety advice ? (HSA’s Infotel
       line 01-6147042 – is there to help)
      Take pride in your standards?


It prevents accidents and ill health saving time lost, improving productivity, and
ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation.


As an employer you are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe and healthy
workplace and you must safeguard the health and safety of your employees. The first
step towards this is preparing a Safety Statement. As an employee you must make
proper use of all machinery, tools and substance, etc., and any personal protective
equipment supplied for your safety. You must report all defects in machinery and
equipment to your employer and adhere to safe systems of work.


At each workplace there must be a systematic examination of all potential hazards to
health and safety, an evaluation of the risks involved and the putting into place of
appropriate safety measures. The Safety Statement must reflect the hazards and risks
at your place of work, therefore, you cannot buy an “off the shelf” Safety Statement
or simply copy someone else. This safety programme must be written down and is
known as a Safety Statement. In drawing up a safety statement your workforce must
be consulted on all matters relating to their health and safety at work.


Yes ! Where you have the required experience and/or training so as to adequately
recognise and evaluate all health and safety matters. Where you recognise that you
may not have the necessary expertise you must engage the services of a competent
person so as to ensure the safety and health of your employees.


A hazard is anything (or work activity) that has the potential to cause harm or injury
such as falls from heights, electricity, moving parts of machinery, vehicular traffic
and some dangerous chemicals. Risk is the likelihood of the hazard causing harm or
injury, the consequences of this and who is likely to be affected. Then you must decide
whether or not you have taken adequate precautions or should do more to prevent
injury or harm. The hazards and risks present in your workplace will be varied and
depend on the nature of your undertaking although some hazards are common to most
workplaces. There are minimum requirements specified for places of work, the safe
use of work equipment, personal protective equipment, manual handling of loads,
visual display unit (VDU) workstations, the use of electricity, first aid provision and
requirements for notification of accidents and dangerous occurrences (Safety, Health
and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, l993, and amendments).


Physical Hazards

List Hazards and                           List emloyees who are      Steps required to be
Risks                                      at risk from the           taken to avoid injury
                                           hazards identified steps
                                           required to be taken to
                                           avoid injury
Hazard:              Faulty electrical     Employees                  Report defective
                     Equipment                                        Electrical equipment
                                           Cleaners                   to manager
                     Shock and severe      Contractors                A competent person
                     injury                                           to repair fault or

List Hazards and                        List employees who are        Steps required to be
Risks                                   at risk from the              taken to avoid injury
                                        hazards identified
Hazard:              Manual handling of Employees in                  Use mechanical aids
                     25Kg boxes         packaging department          to avoid lifting

Risk:                Back Injury                                      Use push trucks

                                                                      Manual handling

Physical Hazards include: mishandling goods: mishandling goods or equipment:
heavy weights: faulty equipment: wet floors: slipping, tripping and falling:
inadequate guarding and maintenance of machinery: electricity, poor housekeeping:
internal transport (e.g. fork lift trucks) ladders: stacking: safe access and exits

List Hazards and                        List employees who are Steps required to be
Risks                                   at risk from the taken to avoid injury
                                        hazards identified
Hazard:               Use of corrosive  Process operators      Replace with a less
                      Chemicals                                corrosive chemical
                                                               where possible
Risk                  Risk of chemical Fitters                 Enclosed the process
                      burn to hands and                        if possible

                                                                     Provide      personal
                                                                     protective equipment
                                                                     such     as    gloves,
                                                                     aprons, safety glasses

       Chemical, biological and other health hazards include: flammable, cancer causing,
       toxic or harmful substances; skin irritant; solvents; dyes; acids; glues; correction
       fluids; handling and storage of dangerous substances; compressed air, gases or
       water; brucellosis, hepatitis and other infections, farmers lung; noise; vibration;
       dust; poor lighting; radiation; extremes of temperatures; repetitive muscular work;
       poor work posture.


List Hazards and                            List employees who are Steps required to
Risks                                       at risk from the hazards be taken to avoid
                                            identified               injury

Hazard:               Working at retail Shop assistant                 Prepare     security
                      counter                                          arrangements to be
                                                                       followed eg. No
                                                                       lone working, Vary
                                                                       times for Bank
                                                                       provision of panic
                                                                       buttons or call in

       Human Factors include: sustained stress form poor work systems; physical or mental
       disabilities; new or young employees; older employees, pregnant employees, risk of

       The above factors are causes of lost time accidents and in some instances even fatal

When health and safety in the workplace is not managed the likelihood of personal
injury and ill health is heightened. Where contraventions of occupational safety,
health and welfare legislation exist in a workplace, whether or not an accident or ill
health results, the employer or employee (where responsible) may face enforcement
action from the HSA including criminal prosecution that may result in unlimited fines
upon conviction. In addition you may face increased insurance premiums, loss of
reputation as an employer and experience poor workforce moral.


The Health and Safety Authority has a dedicated public information telephone line
called Infotel on 01-6147042, email . Fax 01-6147020. This
information line is available for information queries and registering of accidents and
complains. The Health & Safety Authority website contains many guidance
references, access to occupational health and safety legislation, and links to other
useful websites. In addition the Health and Safety Authority has many publications on
safety, health and welfare in specific employment sectors that include agriculture and
forestry, chemicals and dangerous substances, construction, health issues, transport,
manufacturing, quarrying and finishing and these can be ordered from the
publications office or through the website. These include guidance on how to draw up
your safety statement. Some of these publications are free.


If someone you employ, or who is working in a place of work under your control, has
an accident, make sure that you:

      Notify the HSA (see below) immediately if the accident is fatal
      Do not unnecessarily disturb the scene of the accident
      Report any work-related accident that results in the person being unable to do
       their work for more than three days.
      If a member of the public is killed or sent to a hospital as a result of an
       accident due to your undertaking then you must notify that too.

You can notify the HSA:
    In writing, using the form IRI, and then either faxing it on 01-6147020, or
      posting to: health and Safety Authority, 10, Hogan Place, Dublin 2.
    By telephone on 01-6147042. Blank forms are available on HSA’s website at


When procuring or engaging the services of self-employed persons or contractors do
you look for their Safety Statement and check their competence to work safely?
      You must make reasonable inquiries as to their competency as regards safety
       and health.
      You must provide them with the necessary information so as to protect their
       health and safety in a place of work under your control.
      Do you check performance and remedy short comings.


Not necessarily! Where health and safety in a place of work has been managed the
maintenance costs in that place of work will be minimal such as an annual review of
the Safety Statement so as to ensure continuing compliance with the law. Where
health and safety in a place of work has been neglected then some investment may be
necessary so as to ensure compliance with current occupational safety, health and
welfare legislation. In relative terms it is important to remember that contraventions
of the law may result in criminal prosecution with the potential for unlimited fines
upon conviction.


A Health and Safety Authority Inspector has powers to enter and inspect all places of
work and to exercise such powers as may be necessary for the exercise of his duties.
When an Inspector from the Health and Safety Authority visits your place of work you
can expect a professional and courteous service. The Inspector will carry
identification and leave a business card. Depending on the extent and nature of the
risks to health and safety found, the outcome of the visit may range from verbal or
written advice and guidance, to enforcement action so as to ensure compliance with
the law. Enforcement action can include the serving of Improvement Notice directing
that specified measures be taken by a specified time so to ensure workplace health
and safety, for example, inadequate risk assessments. A Prohibition Notice may be
served where an Inspector is of the opinion that a work activity is likely to involve a
risk of serious personal injury. This prohibits the carrying on of the specified activity
until such time that adequate measures are implemented so as to ensure safety and
health, for example, use of a machine with unguarded dangerous moving parts likely
to result in crushing, amputation or death. A High Court closure order results in a
place of work being closed until such time that adequate measures are implemented
so as to ensure compliance with occupation health and safety Legislation.


The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, l989, (No.7 of l989) and the Safety,
Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, l993 (S.I. No. 44 of

The l989 Act supplemented by the 1993 General Application Regulations set out how
prevention of ill health and accidents in all places of work and for all workers is to be
The law sets out:

       The full scope of workplace safety
       The organisation and systems necessary to achieve it
       The responsibilities and roles of employers, the self-employed and employees
       The enforcement procedures where the laws are not followed

Employers (including self-employed persons) are primarily responsible for creating
and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. This includes:

       The management of safety and health in the workplace including consulting
        the workforce.
       A written Safety Statement; identifying hazards and outlining measures to
        protect employees, must be prepared.
       Risks must be evaluated periodically and a written record of risk assessment
        kept as part of the Safety Statement.
       Competent advice on health and safety matters must be obtained. If necessary,
        outside advice must be taken.
       Responsibilities also include providing a safe place of work, safe access and
       The costs of safety and health measures in the place of work cannot be passed
        on to employees.
       Necessary emergency evacuation plans and contacts with local emergency
        services must be arranged.
       Employees who will take on particular responsibilities if an emergency arises
        must be designated.
       Where a place of work is shared, all of the different employers (and self-
        employed persons) must co-operate in safety and health matters

*Copies of all relevant legislation and Regulations are available from Government Publications Sales
Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin, 2. Tel 671 0309/679 3515

Employees (including full or part-time, permanent or temporary, regardless of any
employment or contractual arrangement they may have) must be fully involved.

       Employees must be consulted on any matters dealing with health and safety in
        the workplace
       Where worker participation operates this should include health and safety
        matters. Safety Representatives with whom the employer must consult can be
       Health Surveillance must be available where the risks justify it.
       Proper use must be made of all machinery, tools, substances, etc and of
        personal protective equipment.

Visitors and passers-by: Other people present in the place of work e.g. visitors must
also be protected.

Manufacturers and Suppliers (including designers, installers and erectors):
Manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and machinery, articles or substances used
at work have the responsibility of ensuring safety and health concerning the materials
they supply.
The Health and Safety Authority is responsible for enforcing health and safety at
work. For the most part HSA Inspectors give advice and information during their
inspections. However they can give improvement directions or serve improvement or
prohibition notices for non-compliance with the law.
Prosecutions can lead to fines or prison sentences.

In addition to the general health and safety provisions just outlined for the most part
they apply to all workplaces, there are additional requirements to deal with specific
problem areas. These are set out in the following pages.

In some cases additional Regulations (e.g. l994 Chemical Agents, 2001 Construction,
1994 Pregnant Workers, 2001 and 2003 General Application Amendments etc) may
also apply. For further information on these Regulations contact the HSA at the
addresses given.


The provisions apply to all buildings used as places of work except for transport,
construction sites, mines and quarries, fishing boats and work on the land
(construction, mines and quarries are covered by specific laws).

The employer must ensure that the physical environment of the place of work is
adequate. Work areas, should be large enough to be safe and healthy. This must
include general stability, ventilation and fresh air, temperature and lighting.

Pedestrians and vehicles must be able to circulate safely. Traffic routes, entrances
and exist must be kept clear. Floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, doors and gates, loading
bays and ramps must be safe.

Toilet, washing and welfare facilities must be provided. In addition, rest rooms,
changing rooms and sanitary facilities for pregnant workers, nursing mothers and
employees with disabilities must be provided.

Employees working outdoors should be protected against bad weather, noise, slippery
conditions, etc.

Since 1st January 1996 all workplaces (excluding the above exceptions) must comply
with these requirements.


Employers must ensure that all equipment is suitable or properly adapted for the
work concerned. It must not impair the health and safety of employees or place them
at risk.
Essential warnings and markings should be placed on work equipment. Employees
must be given adequate information and training on its use, including written
instructions if these are necessary.

Only competent persons should carry out repairs, modifications, maintenance or
servicing. There should be safe means of access for production work and for
maintenance or adjustments.

All equipment must have proper control devices for starting and stopping.

Guards should be placed on equipment where there is a risk from contact with moving
parts, or where there are high or very low temperatures. Any equipment from which
objects might fall must be fitted with safety devices.

The containment or extraction of gas, vapour, liquid or dust emissions must be
provided for. Equipment must be maintained during its working life so that it
continues to comply with these requirements. Additional requirements also apply to
equipment brought into use after 5th December, l998. These additional requirements
are given effect to by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application)
(Amendment) Regulations, 2001.

They cover the need to carry out inspections on a regular basis and prevent the
overturning of mobile and self-propelled equipment. New equipment must also comply
with the 2001 Machinery Regulations and the requirement to have a CE mark. These
Regulations apply to equipment suppliers in that they must comply with essential
health and safety requirements set down in the Regulations before the CE mark can
be used on them.


Personal protective equipment (PPE) can include protective headwear, footwear and
eye-wear, respirators and breathing equipment, ear protectors, protective clothing,
gloves, safety harnesses and ropes and barrier creams.

Wherever possible, employers must eliminate hazards in places of work at source. If
these cannot be eliminated totally, they must be reduced to a minimum and adequately

PPE must be provided free of charge by the employer and must be used by the

The personal protective equipment must comply with any relevant EC standards. It
must be suited to the risks involved, take account of the conditions of the place of
work, be suitable to the wearer and or the work to be done.

Before choosing PPE, en employer must assess its suitability in relation to the risks
involved. The employer must also decide on the frequency of use of PPE. This will
take into account the seriousness and frequency of the risk.

PPE must be properly maintained and stored.
Normally, only one employee will use any individual piece of personal equipment.

Employees must be specifically informed of the risk for which the PPE is provided.

They must be properly instructed and trained in its use, using demonstrations if

Information, training and consultation on safety and health must take these
requirements into account.


This includes all pushing, puling, lifting, carrying, putting down or moving any loads involving a risk
to employees

Employers must organize work so that manual handling of loads is avoided wherever
possible. Where handling is unavoidable, the work must be planned or equipment
provided to reduce the risks to a minimum. (There is no longer a defined maximum
limit on the weights that employees may handle).

In planning how the work is to be done, the employer must assess the risk presented
by the working environment, the particular load, the physical effort required, the
distance involved and the frequency of the task.

Employees should be given all relevant information on loads, including weight, centre
of gravity and special handling requirements.

Employers must take account of whether the employee is physically suited and has
adequate knowledge of training for the job to be done.

Manual handling training should be given to those employees who are required to
manually handle loads i.e. after the risk assessment has been carried out and
adequate control measures have been put in place.

Visual display units (VDUs)
Minimum requirements for work with visual display units (VDU’s) are set down.
These do not apply to the small screens on machines such as bank ATM machines,
calculators, cash registers etc.,

The Regulations cover not just the VDU itself but the operator, the desk, chair and the
surrounding area. All workstations must be designed to suit the tasks carried out at

There are specific requirements for VDU workstations. These cover the work
environment (including noise, heat and humidity), the display screen (including
reflection and glare), the keyboard, desk or worksurface, chair and the operator’s
positioning in front of the VDU.
Manual handling training should be given to those employees who are required to
manually handle loads, i.e. after the risk assessment has been carried out and
adequate control measures have been put in place.


Minimum requirements for work with visual display units (VDUs) are set down. These
do not apply to the small screens on machines such as bank ATM machines,
calculators, cash registers etc.

The Regulations cover not just the VDU itself but the operator, the desk, chair and the
surrounding area. All workstations must be designed to suit the tasks carried out at

There are specific requirements for VDU workstations. These cover the work
environment (including noise, heat and humidity), the display screen (including
reflection and glare), the keyboard, desk or worksurface, chair and the operator’s
positioning in front of the VDU.

The employer must analyse each workstation including the environment (space
requirements, lighting, reflections, glare and radiation) and the equipment itself – the
display screen, the keyboard and the software in use.

Adequate breaks from screen work must be arranged. All employees using VDUs will
be entitled to eye tests and spectacles if they are needed for their work. These will be
paid for by the emloyer if normal spectacles cannot be used. Social welfare
entitlements may also apply.

Since 1ST January l996 all VDU workstations must comply with the full requirements
of these Regulations.


The Regulations are concerned with general electrical safety requirements rather
than with detailed specifications and they will be backed up by approved codes of
practice. The Regulations apply to all electrical equipment and installations in all
workplaces except for mines and quarries, and to all work activities related to the use
of electricity.

All electrical equipment must be constructed, installed, maintained, protected and
used so as to prevent danger.

Equipment must be suitably identified and marked, including the maker’s name and
its electrical ratings.

Earthing and automatic disconnection of supply or other means must be provided to
prevent danger from exposed parts becoming live.
Adequate protection must be given to equipment which is exposed to the elements, to
adverse conditions such as damp, dust, flammable atmospheres etc, or subject to risk
of mechanical damage.

Residual current devices (30 milliamps maximum sensitivity) must protect circuits
supplying sockets at voltages between 125 and 1,000 volts A.C.Lower voltages must
be used where there are increased risks of electric shock when using portable

Overcurrent protection must be provided as well as switching and isolation facilities.
Precautions must be taken to prevent equipment made dead becoming live while work
is going on.

All new electrical installations must be tested by a competent person and certified.
Suitable precautions must be taken when working under overhead lines and near
underground cables.


This applies to all places of work and replaces earlier requirements

All places of work where working conditions require it must have adequate first aid

Where injuries to workers are frequent, where there are large numbers of employees
or where there are significant risks to health and safety, sufficient trained
occupational first aiders must be available. These must hold certificates awarded by a
recognised body. Their training must include dealing with accidents resulting from
the specific hazards in their place of work.

If the size of the workforce, the type of activity and the likely frequency of accidents
merits it, then first-aid rooms must be provided and properly fitted out. This
requirements applies to new places of work or which are extended, converted or
modified from January 1st l993

This employer must record the first aid arrangements and the names of the
occupational first aiders in the Safety Statement.


These requirements are supplemented by Regulation 12 of the l993 General
Application Regulations which state that all employees or the safety representative
must be consulted on health and safety matters such as –
    Changes to the place of work that will effect safety
    Employing health and safety consultants or appointing safety managers.
    Keeping accident reports.
    Carrying out health and safety training.
    Introducing new technology and new working conditions.
This consultation should be balanced, be in good time and not disadvantage any
employee because of such participation in the consultation process.


Depending on the nature of your undertaking you may need to comply with other
relevant legislation for example the construction, chemical agent, biological agent,
carcinogen, wood work machinery regulations. Are you aware of these and what you
are required to do? These can be found on the HSA website.

Remember – Health and Safety does not happen by accident. It must be managed!

The above is neither exhaustive nor in order of priority
                        Section 2


Health Promotion Services – Western & North Western Health
Promoting Health @ Work

High strain i.e. physical, mental and emotional strain, can lead to an unhealthy
organisation and work environment and increases the likelihood of employees
            an injury
            health problems
            mental health problems (depression, anxiety)
            a substance abuse
            back injury
            infections

If your company wants to create a more balanced and healthier workplace then
start implement the ‘Promoting Health @Work’ initiative.

WHAT IS THE ‘Promoting Health @ Work’ INITIATIVE?
The health promoting workplace is one in which all aspects which affect health are
considered –
 Organisation
 Environment
 Individual   for example:-

Healthy                                     Healthy                                  Healthy
Organisation                              Environment                        Individuals (employees)
   How work is organised -         Implementation of health and safety        Activities that encourage Healthy
    Roles and responsibilities       legislation (see section 1)                 lifestyle e.g. physical activity,
   Working relationships -         Active health policies i.e. smoking,        reduce smoking, healthy eating,
    Communication                    alcohol, drugs                              reduce alcohol consumption,
                                    Provision of occupational health (see       stress
                                     Section 3)                                 Providing information on key
                                                                                 health issues

                                     WHO’s INVOLVED?
Ultimately everyone has a role in maintaining their own and each other’s health at
work, however managers and supervisors commitment is essential for any workplace
health and well-being

8 steps to ’Promoting Health @ Work’
   1. Look at the health of your company e.g. absenteeism, disability rates, injury
      rates, staff turnover, conflicts, etc. Identify the benefits of promoting health @
      work, to your company

   2. Identify a team of key people in the company to oversee the process. In a
      small workplace this may be 1 or 2 people (include a person from
      management and an employee representatives).

   3. Communicate to all employees, what you plan to do, why you are doing this
      and the potential benefits

   4. Conduct a workplace health needs assessment

   5. Based on the information you have gathered from the questionnaire (needs
      assessment) and other internal data available from step 1, identify two priority
      areas and brainstorm possible actions. This is now your Action Plan.

   6. Communicate to all employees (senior management, unions, employees, etc)
      the next step i.e. the Action Plan you have put together.

   7. Based on the employee needs assessment, carry out one or two actions within
      a short time period. This is important in demonstrating the company’s
      commitment to responding to the needs of its employees. Employees need to
      see that the company is serious about listening to them and by responding
      quickly it is likely to increase employee participation.

   8. Evaluate progress and success. This might involve checking with employees if
      the action carried out/changes made, are successful.

   It is important to take employee suggestions on-board. Small changes in the
   workplace can improve health and well-being for all and a motivated, healthy
   workforce is more likely to perform to a higher level than one, which is not.
   Both the employer and the employee can benefit from action to promote a healthy

Example Action Plan

                        Priority Identified from                 Action to Take
                           Needs Assessment

Healthy Organisation      Poor Communication             Install Company Notice Board
                                                         Regular team meetings to update
                                                          on production issues and changes
Healthy Environment        Poor Housekeeping             Layout of Storage room improved
                                                         All staff responsible to clean their
                                                                                    own work area
Healthy Individuals             Employees looking for                      Involve interested employees to
(employees)                    opportunities to be more                    look at what is available in local
                                       active                                             area
                                                                         Organise events e.g. 5-a-side
                                                                          Soccer, walking groups etc

   Commitment – from top management down is essential
   Employee participation in all aspects of any workplace initiatives is needed from
    the onset
   Effective two way communication – between management and the workforce
   A balanced approach – with initiatives focusing on the organisation, environment
    and individual
   Interventions should be based on needs identified by all employees

      Benefits to Employers                                Benefits for Employees
   reduced absenteeism and sick leave                   improved morale
   healthy workforce                                    greater job satisfaction
   greater commitment and loyalty from staff            greater feeling of value and appreciation
   higher productivity                                  improved working conditions and environment
   good service delivery                                improved working relationships
   improved staff morale                                greater trust between staff
   improved corporate image                             improved health and well-being
   attraction and retention of staff

The Health Promotion Officers – Workplace Setting, within the Health Promotion
Service, NWHB and WHB, are available to assist your workplace in developing a
‘Promoting Health @ Work’
               What have other companies done?
                                         EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE

Company A:           Family Business set up in 1934 – milling trade
Employment:          23 employees

Production:          Refining of wheat, rye, barley and oats for flour production.

Economic Situation:
Currently difficult for most mills but Company A has number of strengths:
- flexible (relatively small)
- produces broad range of high quality products
- moved into organic flour production

Organisational Culture:
Employees work in small teams & organise their own shift-work, work times and job
Staff encouraged to be self-reliant and self-motivated
Weekly staff & management meetings

External Support:
Company carried out a workplace health needs assessment (questionnaire distributed
to all employees).
The company found the advice and development of this programme very useful,
which resulted in improvements made to Health & Safety structures also.
Eg; - ergonomic improvements
        - measurement of noise & dust levels
        - investments made to improve the working environment
        - introduction of rehabilitation programme
        - ways at improving well-being

Why did the company join the Programme?
1. Support
2. Access to information & advise from external source
3. Looking to improve well-being of staff

Continuous Improvement:
Employees reported that improvements made so far have had positive impact
Staff keen to continue making suggestions to improve working conditions

Occupational Health Care:
Links with local medical centre and GP
Positive Health & Safety Patterns:
No smoking policy
Attitudes towards Personal Protective Equipment positive – staff proactive
Manual Handling Training
Sick Leave – in 1999 approx. 1 day/employee/month (loss of 21 working days/month)
No Occupational Accidents in 1999
Company encourages employees to participate in Physical Activity by supplying staff
with swimming pool tickets

Positive Results:
3 out of 4 employees feel programme has been beneficial
results on whole, more positive than negative
Survey – most important outcome was better communication and co-operation
between employees themselves and between employees and management

Company gained their highest standard in Occupational Safety to date, in recent
safety inspection
Cost of ‘Promoting Health @ Work’ small compared to results

Looking to the future:
Further improvements to noise and dust emissions
Critical Factor governing future ‘Promoting Health @ Work’ activities is the
company’s place in the market. If its economic position stays good then it will be
feasible to make concrete improvements.

Most Important Advise Company A has to offer other SME’s:
Keep employees informed as to what’s going on and why certain decisions have to be
It is also important to look for expertise from outside the company, as SME’s tend not
to have Health & Safety Skills at their fingertips.
An external advisor can help implement proposals, which might otherwise be shelved
or postponed.
Lastly – Management must take an active interest in health promotion initiatives.

Ref: European Network of Workplace Health Promotion

Company B:            Family Business – furniture trade
Employment:           15 employees

Production:           Teak finished household furniture i.e. wardrobes, lockers,
                      kitchen units etc.

Economic Situation:
Currently good – with very busy periods during summer and before Christmas.

Organisational Culture:
Ethos of company ‘to involve employees in the planning and decision making
process to give them a sense of ownership’.
All staff met on weekly basis to discuss planning of week ahead
These meetings provide opportunity to discuss new ideas and discuss ways of
improving site e.g. better system of storing stock, improving equipment & creating
more effective work systems.
Looking after employee’s interests important to balance home/work life.
Both employer and employees flexible.

Staff more productive and motivated when they feel their well-being counts.

‘Promoting Health @ Work’ Activities:
     Company organises mountain bike rides during summer
     Long weekends away with sailing activities
     Purposes of activities – staff have a good time & strengthen personal
      relationships which help them work together more effectively as a team

       Every Friday, plan shuts at Lunchtime - employees have benefit of extended
       At end of each working year – party laid on for staff

 External Support:
Instructors brought in to conduct training e.g. Manual Handling and Health Promotion
Staff in local health board

Continuous Improvement:
Entire team responsible for Health and Safety issues
Working equipment continuously improved

Positive Health & Safety Patterns:
No smoking policy
Attitudes towards PPE positive – staff proactive
Manual Handling Training
Alcohol problems dealt openly and honestly with employer, staff member and co-
workers and support given to help overcome difficult time.

Positive Results:

Management has a strong social conscience
Concerned with the welfare of staff
Good employee health not looked at purely from physical point of view, also in terms
of well-being and job satisfaction
Employee satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with good health
Good working atmosphere is good for business
Welfare measures cost money – but more than overweighed by the benefits
Customer satisfaction crucial to success of company
Customer’s opinions sought and heeded
Complaints dealt with immediately – but very infrequent

Looking to the future:
Employees enjoy good health.
There is very little occupational illness and absenteeism is low.

Most Important Advice Company B has to offer other SME’s:
Health and welfare related activities have improved business results.

Ref: European Network of Workplace Health Promotion
                   Section 3


Occupational Health Nurse’s Association of Ireland

Occupational Health is concerned with sustaining and promoting the
health and working ability of employees.

An occupational health service may include treatment of minor injuries
and illnesses, emergency care and referral for care. An occupational
health service may also include preparation of accident reports, health
counselling, health examinations and vaccinations, and assessing the work
environment to identify potential health or safety problems (see section )


Occupational Health services can be provided by Occupational Health
Physicians, local GPs and Occupational Health Nurses.

In smaller workplaces occupational health is the responsibility of
managers and external medical support, such as local GP services and
health centres, may be utilised
Occupational Health at Work can include a combination of

 Prevention & treatment of accidents and ill health
 Wellness and Health Promotion
 Rehabilitation

The following steps may be taken to address each of these areas:-

     Prevention &                   Wellness & Health                    Rehabilitation
     treatment of                       Promotion
    accidents & Ill
    Arrange pre-                   Assess Health risks               Work with employees and
     employment medicals            Promote Healthy lifestyles         external medical support to
    Arrange health                 Introduce Health Promotion         ensure early and safe return
     surveillance relevant to        programmes (see section 2 )        to work after injury / illness
     the area of work               Provide information on key         to maximum medical function
    Perform or co-ordinate          health issues (see resources      Introduce procedures to
     workplace risk                  section)                           assist in managing job
     assessments (see                                                   suitability, modify any tasks
     section ) and put                                                  as necessary
    appropriate control
    measures in place
   Arrange emergency
    treatment in the case
    of workplace injuries or
    ill health
   Arrange first aid

Workplace Health Policies need:
Direct commitment of senior management and the participation of
employees in the development of workplace health policies

Consider the following:
Develop a policy statement stating management’s commitment to the
workplace health management strategy within the enterprise.
Educate managers and workers on the impact of environmental,
occupational and lifestyle determinants on their health and social well-
being and on the economic situation and competing ability of the
enterprise to facilitate their participation in the Workplace Health


To companies and managers who are unfamiliar with the role of
Occupational Health Departments, Health and Safety Practitioners are
seen to be an additional expense. However there is strong evidence from
companies with dynamic Occupational Health Departments, that the role
in the prevention and management of work related injuries is cost
effective and actually contributes to the profitability of the company.
Some companies view the cost of accidents purely in relation to their
rising insurance premium costs. Costs of an accident that are not
reflected in insurance costs include:
• Temporary shutdown of work activities resulting from the accident.
• Time spent investigating the cause of the accident.
• Lost time from work by injured worker.
• Cost of appropriate medical intervention.


The aim is that work-related injuries are quickly diagnosed, treated or
referred as appropriate for the injury, thus enabling the injured
employee to have proper immediate and follow-up medical care.
The OHD can actively manage the treatment and co-ordinate the follow-
up care required by the injured employee, which can be in contrast to the
more prolonged sick-leave associated with the traditional A&E/ GP

       Benefits of introducing a system to Manage Injuries at Work

Benefits to employers
   Reduced absenteeism
   Reduced number of Employer Liability claims, and extent of
   Improved monitoring of workplace injuries

The benefits to the employee
   Early and expert diagnosis and treatment of their injuries
   Medical expenses (e.g. GP, Physio) minimized
   Early return to work, reducing loss of income
   Appropriate early rehabilitation, reducing the likelihood of
    further re-injury
   Preventative healthcare advice

Occupational Health Nurses provide integrated occupational health services to
employers and employees. Occupational Health Nurses work closely with
managers, supervisors and individual employees to maintain, promote and restore
health, safety and well-being.

Occupational Health Nurses / Advisors are the largest single group of
health professionals involved in delivering health services at the
workplace and have an important role to play in workplace health
management according to the "World Health Organization
What should the employer look for?
A recognised Occupational Health nurse should have the following
A certificate, diploma or degree in General Nursing and
a recognised Occupational Health qualification.
The OHN must hold current registration with An Bord Altranais.
             Benefits of addressing Occupational Health at Work

   Increased productivity
   Decreased absenteeism
   Fewer occupational & non-occupational injuries & illnesses
   Reduced compensation benefit cost
   Fewer disruptions in day to day business
   Enhanced profile as a responsible & caring organisation
            Section 4

Local & National Support Agencies
The following is a list of useful contact numbers:-

Health & Safety Authority Infotel helpline             01 6147010     e-mail

Galway, Mayo, Roscommon
Health Promotion Services, Western Health Board        091 548321/2

Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, West Cavan
Health Promotion Service, North Western Health Board   072 52000

Roscommon County Enterprise Board                      0903 26263
Galway county & city Enterprise Board                  091 565269
Mayo County Enterprise Board                           094 22887
Donegal County Enterprise Board
Sligo County Enterprise Board
Leitrim County Enterprise Board

Construction Industry Federation                       091 502680
IBEC Western Regional Office                           091 561109
IBEC North West Regional Office                        074 9722474
Small Firms Association                                01 6051500
IDA IRELAND, Galway                                    091 735910
(Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Assoc Ltd)           01 6622755
BMW assembly                                           0907 62970
Enterprise Ireland                                     091 735900
Enterprise Ireland, Sligo                              071 9161219
Enterprise Ireland, Donegal                            074 9121155
FAS employment services                                091 534400
FAS Employment Services, Donegal                       074 9122200
FAS Employment Services, Sligo                         071 9143390
FAS Employment Services, Leitrim                       071 9620503
Galway chamber of commerce                             091 563536
Castlebar chamber of commerce                          094 24845
Ballina chamber of commerce                            096 72801
Ballyhaunis chamber of commerce                        0907 30311
Claremorris chamber of commerce                        094 64149
Westport chamber of commerce                           098 27375
Boyle chamber of commerce                              079 62004
Roscommon chamber of commerce                          0903 26171
Donegal Town Chamber of Commerce                       074 9722312
Sligo Chamber of Commerce                              071 9161274
Ballybofey/Stranorlar Chamber of Commerce               074 9132377
Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber of Commerce                 071 9621857

Galway City Partnership                                091 773466
Galway rural development                               091 844335
Mayo Partnership Maeitheal Mhaigh Eo                   094 56745
Roscommon County Partnership Company Ltd                     0903 27424
Camas Teo Pairtiocht, Rosmuc

Mid – south Roscommon Rural development                     0902 88292
South West Mayo Development Co Ltd                                         094 24139
Farm Development (Donegal South) Donegal Town                                073-21048
Farm Development Service Leitrim                                             078-20030
Farm Development Service Sligo                                               071-55030
Business Innovation Centre Institute of Technology Sligo, Ballinode, Sligo   071-44131
Leader II Programme Inishowen                                                077-73083
Leitrim County Development, Park Lane House, Carrick-on-Shannon              078-20450
Sligo County Enterprise Board Clevaragh Sligo                                071-44779
Sligo Youth Enterprise Ltd O’Connell St, Sligo                               071-45248
CIF – The Construction Employees Health Trust Canal House, Canal Road, Dublin 6
01-4068007/ 01-4977663
Donegal VEC Technical School, Milford, Letterkenny                           074-53548
Fas Training & Employment Authority – Leitrim Govt Buildings, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-
on-Shannon                                                                   078-20503
Fas Training & Employment Authority – Donegal Ballyraine Ind Est, Ramelton Rd,
Letterkenny                                                                  074-22200
Fas Training & Employment Authority – Sligo Govt Buildings, Cranmore Rd Sligo
VEC (Donegal) Admin Offices, Ard O’Donnell, Letterkenny                      074-21100
VEC (Leitrim) Admin Offices, Carrick-on-Shannon                              078-20024
VEC (Sligo) Admin Offices, Riverside, Sligo                                  071-61511
Irish Council of People with Disability 1A Bushypark Lawn, Newcastle, Galway 091-584583
Co. Leitrim Partnership Board Church St, Drumshambo, Leitrim                 078-41740
Co. Sligo Partnership Board Cearn, Grange                                    071-73023
Co. Sligo Leader Partnership Telling St, Tubbercurry, Sligo                  071-86276
Leitrim Partnership Board Main St, Mohill                                    078-31715
Sligo Chamber of Commerce 16 Quay St, Sligo                                  071-61274
Sligo Council of Trade Unions Markievicz Unemployment Centre                 071-42925
Sligo Leader Partnership Board Clevaragh Sligo                               071-41138
Tubbercurry Chamber of CommerceMountain Rd, Tubbercurry, Sligo               071-86210
Western Development Commission Church St, Ballaghaderreen                    0907-61441

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