Irish Prison Service takes step to tighten its health and safety response

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is hiring a Health and Safety Officer to what's described as a 'senior managerial role' in the running of jails in Portlaoise and other parts of the country.

In the recruitment specification, the service says the Officer shall provide technical guidance and support to the Head of the Health and Safety Compliance Office.

The new recruit, who will not be required to have worked in a prison setting, will be expected to give technical support, guidance and advice on all health and safety matters to prison Governors, regional managers and locally appointed coordinators.

The officer will be asked to advising and assisting in the carrying out and reviewing risk assessments. Alongside this, they will be asked to advise and assisting in the investigations of incidents and ensuring procedures and controls are in place to prevent recurrences.

The Prison Service will expect the officer to arrange for specialist advice and investigation where necessary such as scientific
testing such as noise and dust measurements.

The employee will be asked to promote what's described as 'a positive health and safety culture' to secure the 'effective implementation' of safety and health policy and a reduction in workplace accidents and incidents.

Another task will be to liaise with the health and safety training manager in the Irish Prison Service College (IPSC) in relation to the health and safety staff training needs.

The new officer will be asked to reviewing and evaluate performance against agreed targets and performance indicators and carrying out Safety Audits of the occupational health and safety management system.

Another job will be to revise and updated occupational health and safety management system manuals and to advise on the same.

The officer will be required to maintain information systems on topics including safety and health law, safety and health management and technical advances.

Also expected will be to advise on the implementation of new and revised safety legislation and on any changes in national policy in relation to health and safety including the development of approaches to ensure compliance and implementation.

Candidates will have to ensure that systems are in place to allow for 'appropriate organisational responses to recommendations from appropriate regulatory bodies'.

The Irish Prison Service says it is essential that candidates have 'expert knowledge' of health and safety statutory requirements, systems and processes and demonstrate the ability to interpret the law in the context of a large
public service organisation.

Having previous experience in a prison setting is not listed as either an essential or desirable qualification to get the job.

However, it is expected that the new officer will have 'a breath and depth of knowledge' of Department and Governmental issues and 'is sensitive to wider political and organisational priorities'. To get the job the IPS says the applicants must be considered an 'expert by stakeholders' in health and safety.

The IPS says it employs some 3,200 uniformed and civilian staff mainly at 12 prisons where up to 4,000 prisoners are jailed.