The full total of 11,220 inspections proposed by the agency for 2017 also includes more than 1,400 to check compliance with chemicals regulations.
The agenda – which provides details of planned actions, priorities and inspection objectives for the year – says 4,000 construction site inspections will take place. The HSA says it will pay particular attention to small construction companies, self-employed workers, one-off builds and smaller sites through the development of initiatives to further raise safety and health awareness.
The HSA plans 2,000 farm visits – 1,400 of which will take place during three, three-week inspection campaigns. It will further promote farm safety through conferences and talks, and will publish an updated farm safety code of practice.
The authority says it plans 600 inspections across the manufacturing industry, with findings from inspections of the major asphalt plants and block making facilities published online. And it has scheduled 400 checks in wholesale and retail premises, with a focus on management systems compliance; storage, racking and forklift use; and the supply of second-hand farm machinery.
A key theme of the programme is new and returning workers, in industries such as accommodation and retail. The HSA has pledged to address training, induction and supervision for new hires during its inspections, after a 2015 study by the Economic and Social Research Institute found this group of workers were four times more likely to be injured at work than those with a tenure of over five years.
There will also be an emphasis on work-related health activities, including the promotion of positive mental health and reduction of workplace stress, it said.
Minister for employment and small business Pat Breen TD, whose brief includes workplace safety and health, said: “Thankfully we saw a reduction in fatal accidents last year, with 44 reported, the second lowest number on record. Now it is important to build on any success achieved and focus on areas of concern, such as the continued high rate of injury on farms.
“I also find it alarming that so many serious and fatal injuries, regardless of sector, involve the self-employed. They, along with new and returning workers, are what I would call ‘vulnerable groups’ and there is a strong focus in the authority’s work programme on those that are at risk.”
The HSA will complete a further 1,420 inspections and audits under chemicals legislation. Some 700 of them will address asbestos, biological and chemical agents, carcinogens and noise in an effort to increase focus on worker health.
In addition, this figure accounts for 90 risk-based inspections of COMAH (control of major accident hazards) and 75 sub-COMAH sites. The programme says the HSA will “inspect and enforce requirements in relation to oil jetties, large petroleum bulk and liquefied gas stores and sub-COMAH sites”.
The work programme also revealed that the HSA plans to implement a “charging system” for COMAH inspection and investigation.
Speaking about the challenges and opportunities associated with Brexit, the HSA’s chief executive Martin O’Halloran said: “As a result of the decision of the United Kingdom to end its membership of the European Union we anticipate significant work will have to be done in two areas where we have responsibilities.
“There will be changes to the legislation covering the placement and movement of chemicals on the EU market and an increased demand for accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies. We will be using our position on various EU committees and working groups to ensure that Ireland maximises its influence.”
The programme of work is part of the HSA’s Strategy Statement 2016-18, which sets out its priorities for the upcoming three years.