This Worker's Memorial Day, CIF Director of Safety and Training Dermot Carey, reflects on the progress our industry has made in health and safety and the constant need for companies to adapt their approach in an ever-changing working environment.

Today marks the third annual Workers’ Memorial Day in Ireland, a day when the Construction Industry Federation gathers with our partners in Government, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Congress), Ibec and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to remember those killed, injured and bereaved through workplace accidents.

Construction companies have worked tirelessly with their industry partners to reduce workplace accidents and fatalities.  Our industry, which employs over 140,000 people directly, continuously strives to improve safety management and awareness in the sector. However, Health and Safety Authority statistics show us that tragic accidents are much more likely to occur within the micro-enterprise and self-employed sectors of the industry. It is vital that we increase our efforts to get the safety message to smaller companies and sole traders to reduce accidents. We must strive to become a zero-fatality industry.

DKM estimates that construction activity is set to grow by 9% a year up to 2020. This growth will be driven by ambitious government targets in housebuilding and infrastructure development as well as commercial growth. 

With this strong increase in activity, there will be a subsequent need to expand the workforce and we expect a strong growth of new employees coming onsite, along with those returning to Ireland for work, adding approximately 112,000 people to the workforce.

This growth will bring an increase in risk. Now is the time to reflect on our current health and safety procedures so workers can be busy and safe.

For decades, employers and workers within the construction industry have been investing time and money to drive improvements and ensure that all workers can work safely on construction projects in Ireland. We must ensure that the industry maintains its strong record on the management and awareness of safety and health issues.

Approximately 90,000 workers complete the Safe Pass Programme every year. However, progress and innovation are constant requirements in an ever-evolving working environment.

We can never become complacent. Health and safety should be to the fore when planning every project – regardless of size- and on workers’ minds at all times.

We must also become more mindful of our own personal health. The Construction Workers Health Trust does wonderful work providing onsite health screenings with one in ten of these screenings resulting in a referral to a doctor.

Mental Health is also a major concern and the CIF is proud to have partnered with Pieta House for our ‘Mind Our Workers’ campaign.

As an industry and a community we must take care of ourselves and care for one other. We must make our industry a happier, healthier and safer working environment with zero accidents and zero fatalities.

Dermot Carey, Director Safety and Training, CIF

Is your company running an innovative health and safety initiative? Do you have an interesting health and safety story to tell? If so the CIF Communications team would love to highlight this. Please contact Joanna Kiernan at jkiernan@cif.ie or phone 01 4066039

The annual CIF Construction Safety Week will run from Monday 23rd of October this year.