27/06/2001

NEW BELFAST HEALTH AND SAFETY CENTRE OPENS

THE official opening of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland's new Information and Advice Centre in Belfast took place on Wednesday, June 27.

Speaking at the launch, Reg Empey Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment said: “Health and Safety at work is a major issue for business and industry throughout Northern Ireland, but it should not be a major headache.”

He said: “Work related injury and ill health costs the economy over £300 million every year. With the opening of the new Centre anyone can now have easy access to health and safety information and advice. It is a significant step towards the realisation of a vision long held by Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI) that what is needed is a multi-faceted approach to ensure that those who most need help, get it."

The Centre's facilities include a comprehensive range of reference materials in electronic and traditional formats and Internet access for research of health and safety information. Advice is also available from duty staff for visiting customers on all aspects of occupational health and safety.

Callers can now also contact HSENI, free of charge, on its freephone Helpline to seek assistance from a Client Adviser on general health and safety queries or from a Duty Inspector, who will be able to deal with more technical queries.

Sir Reg said: "The e-business aspects to the new Centre clearly have enormous potential to increase the flow of information between HSENI and its clients. In particular, the Centre has great potential for helping the small business community which will benefit immensely from the free help and guidance that a facility such as this offers."

Also speaking at the opening of the centre, Liam McBrinn, HSENI's Chairperson, said: "Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is the key. In opening up its building in this way, HSENI is demonstrating its determination to be more accessible to all its customers - employers, employees, trade unions, safety representatives, students and the general public."

HSENI is also about to pilot two regional outlets to the Information and Advice Centre in conjunction with Derry City Council and Craigavon Borough Council. The pilot regional outlets will play an important role in exploring how the information and advice contained in the Centre can be most effectively provided at locations outside of Belfast. (AMcE)

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