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Written Answers. - Health and Safety Regulations.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 38. Ms Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  if the Health and Safety Authority is investigating conditions in a number of primary schools; the schools in respect of which improvement notices have been issued by the HSA; the communication his Department has received from the HSA on this matter; the steps being taken to improve conditions in these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26690/02]

 39. Mr. Allen Information on Bernard Allen Zoom on Bernard Allen  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the assistance his Department has given to schools to ensure that they are in compliance with health and safety regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26589/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 39 together.

In accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989, it is the responsibility of school management authorities to have a safety statement in place in their schools. Schools are obliged to identify possible hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and put appropriate safeguards in place. It is open to school management authorities or individuals to make direct contact with the Health and Safety Authority in relation to matters of concern to them and my Department would not necessarily be aware of such communications. Where they are issued, notifications from the Health and Safety Authority are sent to the management authorities of schools in the first instance.

[1488]In practical terms, individual school authorities are best placed to assess the detail of their own health and safety requirements. I am satisfied that the majority of schools are aware of their responsibilities in this area. However, I have some concern that in a minority of cases, the devolved funds which I have made available are not being used in an effective manner to address health and safety issues as a priority. I have, accordingly, asked my Department to undertake a detailed review of expenditure under the scheme and work has recently started on this.

To assist school authorities in fulfilling their responsibilities in relation to health and safety, my Department provides funding on an annual basis to each primary school at the current rate of €3,809 per school and an additional €12.70 per pupil. Furthermore, schools which require funding to address specific issues relating to health and safety above the value of the devolved grant, may apply to the building unit of my Department for supplementary minor grants. Approximately €61 million was expended by my Department on minor grants to primary schools in 2002, including those relating to health and safety. This funding was in addition to the payments under the devolved grant.


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