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We need a much healthier attitude to safety risks

The term “health and safety” has IOSH-Construction2become so pervasive that it’s no wonder ordinary people think some of us are out to prevent anyone being exposed to any sort of risk.  Life is full of risks and people face different risks every day.  However, by taking the approach of some individuals and organisations that we come across it’s a wonder any of them can build up the courage to leave the house in the morning.

Health and safety legislation was introduced in this country to help address the high number of accidents in the workplace which over the years have resulted in hundreds of deaths and many thousands of very serious injuries.

Let’s be sensible here.  Effective workplace safety and health management is an important aspect of any manager’s activities.  It will help prevent accidents and injuries to employees as well as being a real contributor to business success.  The proactive management of the safety and health of workers or anyone who might be affected by work activity isn’t a joke.  The task of raising awareness of the real and genuine dangers that workers can be exposed to isn’t made any easier when one hears of the overzealous individuals who, in an attempt to make their lives easier, end up making the lives of the professionals working in this area all the more difficult.

As we see it, “health and safety” is bandied about as an excuse for all sorts of unpopular decisions.  It can be very convenient to put a difficult decision down to some vague “health and safety” issue rather than outline the real motivation.  There may well be valid reasons to make unpopular decisions, e.g. commercial pressures or fears re legal action, but more often than not they have nothing to do with genuine health and safety concerns.

Last year 54 people lost their lives in workplace accidents and 230 people have been killed since 2008.  So far this year 29 people have been killed in work related accidents.  Apart from these very tragic deaths thousands of people have been injured, many very seriously.  On top of this terrible human toll it’s been estimated that workplace accidents are costing the state up to €3.5 billion annually.  That’s a substantial sum of money during any economic period but in the current environment it’s completely unsustainable.  Small businesses in particular know the financial impact if an employee suffers a bad workplace accident – compensation payments, increased insurance premiums, disrupted production and damage to business reputation all add up and can have a drastic effect on the bottom line.

The position of the Health and Safety Authority is clear – health and safety is not a reason to not do something.  If there are valid risks associated with a workplace activity these risks should be assessed and managed so that the activity can be carried out in a safe way.  Very rarely is the solution to simply not do it.

Martin O’Halloran

Chief Executive
Health and Safety Authority



Boston Scientific fears misplaced according to CEO

Boston Scientific has over 4,500 employees in Ireland but fears that the company may be planning to reduce its footprint here are misplaced, according to its CEO who trumpets the ‘stellar’ performance of its Irish operations.

A suave, tanned character, whose career began in the US air force, Kucheman has been with Boston Scientific since 1995. Before taking over as chief executive officer late last year, he was head of the cardiology, rhythm and vascular group, which makes him intimately familiar with the work happening at the company’s three Irish locations in Galway, Cork and Clonmel.
And he is, undoubtedly, a fan.

“What I have always been impressed by through the years is the attitude of the Irish people – their dedication, their passion, their attention to detail and their desire to ‘get-it- right-first-time’ type of mentality,” he says in the Natick board room, on a recent Thursday afternoon.

“Over the years, we’ve brought some of our toughest challenges to Ireland in terms of product initiatives or product introductions, and the people there have been just absolutely stellar. They have knocked it out of the park almost every time,” he adds.

Boston Scientific is one of Ireland’s most significant employers, with more than 4,500 employees. Roughly 2,650 are based in Ballybrit in Galway, where the company has both a manufacturing operation and a high- tech RD centre. It is the company’s biggest manufacturing site globally.

The company employs another 20,000 people in locations across the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It generated $7.6 billion in net sales last year from a product line of medical devices that includes pacemakers, stents, pain management systems and other technologies used in cardiology, urology, gastroenterology and various other medical disciplines.

Boston is truly a world player with leading market positions in many of the products it makes. But, like others, the company has suffered a decline in revenue in recent years. Last year’s net sales were down from $7.8 billion in 2010.

A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that Boston Scientific has shed a total of 3,000 jobs since 2007 but, for the most part, the company’s Irish operations have been spared the worst of the layoffs.

Two plants in Donegal were closed in 2009 with the loss of 120 jobs while, in 2010, 175 workers lost their jobs in Galway – a devastating blow for those affected.
However, Kucheman has high praise for Ireland’s RD tax credits, which he says are part of a “smart” government strategy to bring innovation into the State.
“Ireland has one of the lowest tax rates in the world today . . . and this is one of the things I admire about your country’s strategy. But when medical device companies or pharma companies or telecommunication companies look to the Ireland opportunity, one of the things that I find very attractive is how your Government thinks about developing the skill sets within your country.”

Ref: IDA Ireland

CMSE Recruitment


Chris Mee Group appoints Alf Smiddy as Chairman

Cork – March x, 2011 – The Chris Mee Group, a leading provider of Health and Safety, Carbon and Environmental services, has appointed Alf Smiddy as Chairman. Alf brings a wealth of experience to the role having spent over twenty years in senior management positions in both a multi-national and Irish indigenous business environment, including twelve years as Chairman and Chief Executive of Beamish & Crawford Plc.

The Chris Mee Group recently moved its Head Quarters from Carrigaline to a new location in Euro Business Park, Little Island, Co Cork. The


Chris Mee and Alf Smiddy (left to right)

 Chris Mee Group also runs a Fire Training Centre located in Raffeen on the main Ringaskiddy Road, Co Cork.

The Chris Mee Group consists of two main companies, Chris Mee Safety Engineering (CMSE), working in the areas of Health & Safety, Environmental and Energy services (consultancy, training, and recruitment); and Carbon Action, offering carbon management and training. Carbon Action has an office in London.

The new and larger Head office will facilitate a broader and better quality of service to all our clients. The new premises has excellent training rooms, cafeteria, meeting rooms and offices.  CMSE offer up to 70 different training programmes covering skills enhancement and legislative requirements.

Chris Mee, Managing Director of Chris Mee Group, said that “We are delighted with the appointment of Alf to the board, his expertise will strengthen the management structure of the Group. We also now have a prime location with our new head office from which to continue the expansion of our Consultancy, Training and Placement services throughout Ireland and overseas”

Chris Mee Group plan to increase staffing levels in 2011 with both permanent and contract hires.  Much of the growth is expected to be overseas in such locations as the UK, Europe and China.


Confined Space Training for HSA Inspectors





Health & Safety Authority (HSA) & CMSE – Confined Space Training for HSA Inspectors

Chris Mee Safety Engineering (CMSE) recently delivered several days of confined space training to a large group of HSA inspectors at the CMSE Training Centre.  The hands on training programme was organised by Mr. Mark Roland of the HSA and Mr Christopher Mee of CMSE.  

The customised course was delivered by CMSEs top trainers for the HSA inspectors and focused on the essential safety requirements of confined space entry and rescue including the use of confined space equipment (both operational & rescue).  The inspectors were also instructed in the correct use and inspection of Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). 

The HSA is the Irish State Agency for Occupational Safety and Health.  Their inspectors carry out both enforcement and educational/information delivery to employers and employees in the essential area of accident reduction and prevention.  For more information on the HSA you can visit their website


Legionella in Ireland

There were 67 cases of legionnaires’ disease reported in Ireland during the period 2000 to 2007. There were five deaths due to legionnaires’ disease during this period

In April 2003 a woman died of Legionnaires Disease at Waterford Regional Hospital. After being admitted to hospital in March 2003 the patient was diagnosed as having Crohn’s Disease but a routine x-ray taken showed that the patient was also suffering from pneumonia. Further tests confirmed that she had Legionnaires Disease.

In 2008 RTE reported that two members of staff at the Allianz Insurance Company in Dublin had contracted the legionnaires disase. Tests linked the disease to one of the cooling towers used as part of the air conditioning system which was found to have high levels of the legionella bacterium.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is gram negative bacterium, including species that cause Legionellosis or Legionnaires’ disease, most notably L.pneumophilia. Legionnaires disease poses the greatest risk to people who are elderly, ill or immunocompromised.
Legionella transmission is via aerosols, and insulation of mist droplets containing the bacteria. Common source include:

  • Cooling towers
  • Domestic hot and cold water systems
  • Emergency shower heads and showers
  • Taps and water storage tanks
  • Other water systems

A number of factors are required to create a risk of Legionella including; presence of the Legionella bacteria, water change rate, degree of exposure, presence of the numbers of people who may be at risk of exposure, water temperatures, total microbial count, enclosed or open systems.

What Creates the Risk of Legionella?

A number of factors are required to create a risk of Legionella, including;

  • The presence of the Legionella bacteria,
  • Source condition (clean- heavy contamination)
  • Accessibility (Enclosed – open system)
  • Acidity/ Alkalinity
  • Conditions suitable for the survival of the organism, e.g. suitable temperature and a source of nutrients, e.g. limescale, rust, algae and other organic matter.
  • Temperatures that affect the survival of Legionellae are as follows;
  • From 70°C to 80°C – Disinfection range.
  • At 66°C – Legionella die within 2 minutes.
  • At 60°C – Legionella die within 32 minutes.
  • At 55°C – Legionella die within 5-6 hours.
  • From 50°C – 55°C – They can survive but do not multiply.
  • From 20°C to 50°C – Legionella growth range.
  • From 35°C to 46°C – Ideal growth range.
  • Below 20°C – Legionella can survive but are dormant.
  • Water change rate ( High- static)
  • The presence (numbers) of people who may be at risk of exposure.
  • Degree of exposure (hrs/week)
  • A means of creating and disseminating breathable droplets, e.g. showers
  • Total Microbial Count (cfu/ml)
  • For more information or to manage or assess risk or incidents of Legionella you should contact a reputable Legionella Risk Assessment Consultant .