Section 80 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005

Section 80 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (hereafter ‘the Act’) is a standalone section of the above act which in itself is a signal by legislators that management must take responsibility where applicable. This runs parallel with the concept of the signed safety policy which states quite clearly, or should do, that management takes the safety of employees quite seriously. Section 80 is worded with great care so as to address any connivance or neglect by managers/directors of a business (private or public sector), of an act that constitutes an offence and that they may be charged/proceeded against along with the undertaking or business concerned.

The onus is on managers/directors to disprove any proceeding against them, otherwise it is presumed that they are guilty of such an offence of negligence for example, hence the need for senior managers and directors to be proactive in addressing safety and health in the workplace, i.e. this is not confined to safety management moreover it applies to those with decision making powers.

Section 2 of the Act, for the purpose of defining directors, encapsulates such persons as those not registered as directors of a business but on a day to day basis, but whose associates in such businesses take such advice and instruction from. Section 2 goes on to say that safety advisers do not become directors by virtue of advice given as the director must act in good faith in that they assess independently in their own minds, the advice given.

RiskA case that comes to mind is that of the case heard in Ennis Circuit Court in 2010. Clare County Council pleaded guilty to four charges (not section 80) of the Act. This case arose from an accident that occurred in May 2006. An employee of Clare County Council suffered serious injuries when a site dumper he was operating overturned. He subsequently died as a result of the injuries. The court heard that there were no protective measures in place to prevent overturning and the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt. Where section 80 comes in is that a Senior Executive Engineer pleaded guilty to two charges, i.e. one related to Section 80 of the Act, and another Regulation as related to Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 (Construction) Regulations 2001. The Council received monetary fines comprising of €50,000 whereas the Senior Executive Engineer received a 12 month suspended sentences (for 2 years).

In essence, the lessons are;

  • Have appropriate and effective safety management systems in place,
  • Perform your duties, you need to know what’s going on,
  • ‘Neglect’ in section 80 (1) is not qualified by the word ‘wilful’, hence it is a stand alone meaning.



Nothing on this blog is to be construed as legal advice, it is for discussion purposes only.

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