Tuesday 24 April 2018

New international health and safety standard could help boost Irish FDI

A new international health and safety standard to be implemented next month will make it easier to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and will not become a financial burden on smaller companies, it is claimed. Stock image
A new international health and safety standard to be implemented next month will make it easier to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and will not become a financial burden on smaller companies, it is claimed. Stock image

Fearghal O'Connor

A new international health and safety standard to be implemented next month will make it easier to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and will not become a financial burden on smaller companies, it is claimed.

The new standard, called ISO 45001, is aimed at helping organisations positively manage issues of concern and is based on the identification of hazards, the assessment of risks and the implementation of control measures.

The standard is likely to be of particular interest to companies operating in higher risk environments including construction, pharma, technology and manufacturing. Over the next three years it will replace a previous standard adhered to by up to 700 Irish companies.

"It is much easier for organisations to comply with this standard and integrate it into their businesses and it gives international recognition," said Fergal O'Byrne, head of business excellence at the National Standards Authority of Ireland, which is launching the new standard in March.

"It is very important for FDI companies. Different local standards in different countries can be very confusing. But a company from Seattle or Silicon Valley setting up in Ireland is familiar with an ISO standard. It is exactly the same standard that will be used in America. That is a big advantage and we see a lot of the FDI companies using ISO standards."

O'Byrne said that compliance with standards for smaller companies is sometimes seen as more difficult because it may be seen as a resource and bureaucratic issue.

"To some extent that was a true criticism historically but these new standards are written in plain English. The requirements are strict but it is very easy for a small company to look at their activities and design out any risks before they begin," he said.

The cost of third-party certification for a small company was typically in the region of €1,500 to €2,000 per year, he said.

"That's a significant cost but if it is the difference between getting yourself on a tender list or not it could be really important and more and more large organisations cite such standards on their supply chain," he said.

David Lee, construction director with Collen Construction, which is set to become one of the first adopters of the new standard, said it was important to it to have a health and safety standard it could implement both in Ireland and abroad.

"The attitude to health and safety has changed in this sector hugely. Construction projects are now much better planned in every way and health and safety is the very first criteria at the heart of that," he said.

Sunday Indo Business

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