HSA Programme for Work 2024 and its relevance to Employee Wellbeing Programmes
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have recently published their Programme of Work. There are some interesting take-away’s from an employer, and in particular, a wellbeing perspective.
The HSA says it will complete 10,000 proactive workplace inspections during 2024. Inspections are planned for (but not limited to) six high-risk sectors with more focus on psychosocial hazards (including stress and bullying), resources for vulnerable and migrant workers, digital work and mental health.
These sectors include agriculture, construction, transport/logistics, health/social care and chemical production and storage. There will also be risk-based inspections in workplaces in the utilities, waste, and engineering sectors.
The establishment of the Health and Social Care Advisory Group in the HSA is a welcome development. The increase in workplace injuries, as well as violence and aggression, have been highlighted as ongoing issues during 2023. Other employee wellbeing-related developments include further guidance on health surveillance, sensitive risk groups, occupational first aid, return to work following long term illness, and managing intoxicants.
The HSA is also planning for further psychosocial supports and resources for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), vulnerable workers and those working in the gig economy.
Mental Health and Wellness Resources
The fact that mental health and workplace wellbeing is high on the agenda means that additional practical resources on this topic will be forthcoming. This was particularly evident with the welcome response given to the HSA’s publication in 2023 of ‘Psychosocial Risk Assessment: Guidance for Exposure to Sensitive Content’. This included a practical risk assessment template that could be applied to any workplace.
As the world of work continues to transform, with remote working, and digitalisation, the HSA Programme of Work commits to developing supports and resources on digital work and its impact on mental health.
A psychosocial risk assessment is a legal requirement under Section 19 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005. It is also due to be a requirement under the updated Mental Health pillar of the KeepWell Mark accreditation. Many organisations struggle with how to approach this risk assessment and are concerned about the implications of documenting the hazards and the data protection considerations. The data is processed by an independent service provider in compliance with applicable Data Protection legislation.
The WorkpositiveCI Tool should be considered (or reconsidered) for this purpose. It is a free, confidential, psychosocial risk management tool. It has been developed by the HSA, State Claims Agency (SCA), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Network Ireland. It provides feedback on workplace stress, employee psychological wellbeing and critical incident exposure in the workplace. It will also provide structured guidance enabling organisations to develop an action plan to mitigate against these stressors.
Work PositiveCI will help organisations:
- Identify psychosocial risks and opportunities across your workforce
- Comply with current health and safety legislation
- Develop an effective health and wellbeing action plan
- Improve employee engagement and performance
Please note the enhanced tool is being relaunched on the 31 January 2024.
The HSA Programme of Work for 2024 will help put a spotlight on employee wellbeing in a number of ways. The increased number of proactive inspections and the focus on psychosocial hazards and mental at work will be actively reported which will increase awareness around this issue. The HSA commitments will also ensure enhanced resources such as the changes to the WorkPositive tool and other guidance documents.
Organisations should be prepared for inspections by ensuring that they are in compliance with the risk assessment requirements and have an action plan in place to mitigate against the risks identified. Ibec Academy can provide customised training and guidance on this topic where required.
For general Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) queries please contact the Knowledge Centre firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional OSH consultancy and training support, please contact email@example.com. Please note there is an additional charge for this service.
- Work Related Stress- A Guide for Employers, Health and Safety Authority.
- Work Positive Tool, Health and Safety Authority.
- An Employers Guide to Mental Health in the Workplace, Ibec.
- Psychosocial Risk Assessment: Guidance for Exposure to Sensitive Content, Health and Safety Authority
- Guidance on Lone Working in the Healthcare Sector, Health and Safety Authority.
- Managing the Risk of Work-Related Violence and Aggression in Healthcare, Health and Safety Authority.
- Ibec Combatting Violence and Aggression in the Workplace Toolkit, Ibec. (member restricted content)
- Violence at Work, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
- Psychosocial Risk and Work-Related Stress, EU OSHA. Psychosocial Risks and Mental Health at Work. EU OSHA.