Press Release

Southern Region

Don't fool around with health and safety

1 April 2015

Southern Region Don't fool around with health and safety 1 April 2015 

L to R: Conor O'Connell, Chairman, CIPD Southern Region Committee; Brian Higginson, Assistant Chief Executive, Operational Compliance & Prevention, Health & Safety Authority (HSA); Liam Linehan, Vice-Chairman, CIPD Southern Region Committee

Behaviour and culture key to workplace safety – Brian Higginson, HSA

On Wednesday 1st April CIPD Southern Region hosted an event in the Port of Cork offices, where Keynote Speaker, Brian Higginson, Assistant Chief Executive, Operational Compliance & Prevention, Health & Safety Authority (HSA), delivered an engaging and informative presentation to an audience of HR Professionals on how bad practices in managing workplace safety can have devastating and life changing consequences for employees as well as being extremely costly for organisations. The event was sponsored by Herlihy Supermarket Group.

Brian commenced by clarifying what the Health & Safety Authority (HSA) is and is not about:

It is not about:                                                                        It is about:

Stopping children running in playgrounds     �                               Life and death
Banning bicycles on the Arran Island Ferry                                  Life and Limb
10pm curfew at concerts                                                            Health

The HSA had a mandate to Regulate the safety, health & welfare of people at work and those affected by work activities. Their Strategy to achieve this is to engage with employers and employees to ensure compliance and adherence, the intended outcome of which would be reduced workplace accidents. Safety is everyone’s responsibility!

Brian gave an overview of the work done by the HSA covering legislation & guidance; the importance of management systems; accident triggers; and the cost of accidents. He noted that each day 150 people suffer significant injury or illness caused by their work. Recorded statistics for 2012 showed:

  • Fatalities 48
  • Notifiable Accidents (>3 days) 6,804
  • CSO Accidents (> 3 days) 17,786
  • CSO Accidents (All) 35,001
  • CSO Illness/Ill Health (>3 Days) 27,474
  • CSO Illness (All) 50,210.

Throughout his presentation Brian gave examples of workplace accidents investigated by the HSA and noted that although policies and procedures are important, the key to workplace safety is behaviour and culture. Educating people, not just in organisations but also within schools for the employees of tomorrow, is critical and this was the driver behind initiatives introduced within the past few years, shown below, details of which can be viewed on


  • Take Care of Business - BE SMART
  • Work Related Vehicle Safety
  • Bullying & Stress
  • Get a Grip
  • Stop Slips & Trips
  • Behaviour Based Safety Guide

In summary, Brian advised his audience to stay focused, educate and engage their workforce as well as encouraging a culture of best practice in relation to safety. Following the presentation, Brian responded to questions from the appreciative audience - the very positive feedback from the event confirmed that it was well worth attending.

Conor O’Connell, Chairman, CIPD Southern Region offered his thanks to Brian and presented him with a gift which was kindly donated by the Irish Examiner, to mark the occasion. He also thanked the Sponsors – Herlihy Supermarket Group and organizers, Margaret McCarthy, Barry Hill and Charlie Dolan.

The next Southern Region Event will be our AGM followed by a presentation entitled Managing Wage and Pay Claims taking place on Wednesday 13th May. The Speaker will be Peter O’Shaughnessy, Regional Director IBEC. A formal announcement will be issued to members shortly.


CIPD members can download the slides from this event here.

For further information please contact

Mari Manning
PRO-CIPD Southern Region
M. 0863630367


Brian Higginson, Assistant Chief Executive, Operational Compliance & Prevention, HSA

Brian joined the HSA over 15 years ago after an initial career based in the Irish dairy Industry. His early responsibilities in the HSA ranged from general inspection to that of South West Regional Manager. In his career he has led on a number of strategic initiatives including the establishment of the Authority’s Special Investigation Unit focused on inspection of serious workplace accidents. Brian was appointed Assistant Chief Executive in 2010 and in this role he has overall responsibility for the national general inspection program as well as policy, legislative and prevention initiatives in the agriculture and construction sectors.


Herlihy Supermarket Group

Herlihy Supermarket Group is made up of 6 Centra Stores in the Cork area, in Bishopstown, Fermoy, Mallow, Mallow, Millstreet, Oliver Plunkett Street and Grand Parade. Its business is grocery retail with particular focus on convenience and fresh food. Some of the stores have on site kitchens and scratch bakeries. 

The Group’s key advantage in the market place is being able to provide quality prepared fresh bakery and deli products made in its local family owned stores, from scratch by skilled teams. Herlihy’s provide a unique offering in the market place – a full range of products delivered through the Musgrave Retail Partners supply chain at very competitive prices and a range of quality in store produced fresh foods served by friendly and efficient staff. This is unique in a market where old fashioned standards of customer service have become less visible in the last few years and the offering in the grocery market has become generic. 

Herlihy’s Supermarket Group employs over 230 staff and is owned and managed by the Herlihy family and has been in business since 1980.