Wexford County Council was recently awarded the coveted OHSAS 18001 Safety Standard, becoming only the second local authority in Ireland to achieve a full health and safety certification across the entire organisation and all of its many and varied operations.
The highly respected Occupational Health and Safety Management Certification OHSAS 18001 is an international standard which provides a framework to identify, control and decrease the risks associated with health and safety within the workplace. Implementing the standard sends a clear signal to everyone that health and safety is a priority for the organisation.
Reacting to news of the award, Director of Services for Transportation, Water Services and Health and Safety at Wexford County Council, Eamonn Hore, said “I am delighted that the significant investment and commitment to health and safety in this county has resulted in an award of the highest standard for health and safety performance. Our priority, when delivering essential services, will always be the health and safety of our employees, contractors and the public.”
The award of this standard follows on from five years of successful submissions to the National Irish Safety Organisation in its Annual Safety Awards, which recognise the highest performers nationally in health and safety practice. The most recent example of such award was in 2018 when Wexford County Council’s Fire Service received Category 1 Best Public Service and Consistent High Achiever Award, an achievement of which the Council’s Chief Fire Officer, Paul L’Estrange is extremely proud.
“The priority for Fire Services is to ensure that our firefighters, who diligently protect the public, are in turn protected as they work in high risk environments “ said Paul. “Our consistent re-certification to the standard and the number of awards we have received from the National Irish Safety Organisation shows the commitment of every member of the organisation to ensuring a safe and healthy work environment.”
The National Irish Safety Organisation describes its mission as the creation of conditions where Irish workplaces are among the safest and healthiest in Europe through the provision of information, advisory and training services, the promotion of a culture of excellence in workplace health & safety, playing a leading role in advancing the national health & safety agenda and helping members develop a culture of health and safety in their workplace.
John Carley, Director of Services for Housing, Environment and Emergency Services, has direct responsibility for Fire Services at Wexford County Council. “It is testimony to the work of Wexford County Council that we compete on a national level with both public and private sector organisations, winning major awards on an annual basis” said John. “Health and Safety is a team effort; we couldn’t be successful if we did not have commitment at every level in the organisation to continually improving our operations” he added.
Wexford County Council is committed to maintaining the highest safety standards, working with all employees and implementing ongoing workplace improvements. Recently the Council introduced the use of drones to reduce the risks of carrying out inspections on rough terrain or at height, an example of how the use of new technologies and equipment can help protect staff.
“There are many health and safety challenges in the operation a very large and diverse organisation such as Wexford Council” said Amanda Richards, Health and Safety Officer at Wexford County Council. “We offer more than 200 different services including Libraries, Civil Defence, Fire Services, Roads Water Services, Playgrounds, Housing and Environment to name just a few and each of these bring their own health and safety issues. We have come a long way in recent years and have changed a lot of practices, but we can never afford to become complacent and we will constantly seek to improve. I passionately believe that everyone has the right to stay safe and healthy at work”.