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H&S Risks & Measures for Licensed Premises in Ireland

Health & Safety, Occupational Health & Safety

In Ireland, licensing laws involve different Acts & Statutes developed over the years such as the Licensing Act 1872, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000, Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 amends and extends the Licensing Acts and Intoxicating Liquor Acts and provides for related matters.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) recently published several health and safety-associated risks and case studies on licensed premises.

Important Terminology

‘Licence’ here means a licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor, whether granted on production or without production of a certificate of the Circuit Court or District Court. ‘Premises’ in this context includes any place producing, storing or selling intoxicating liquor. ‘Licensed premises’ means a premises in respect of which a license is in force and, in relation to a licensee, means the licensed premises of the licensee.

Licensed premises H&S Risks

Health & Safety Measures at a Licensed Premises

Like any other workplace, licensed premises owners and operators must consider and implement health and safety law and practices. Licensed premises may provide activities such as production, sale or supply of liquor, and by nature of these activities, require a consideration of health and safety-associated risks and implementing control measures. More than 4,000 accidents occur every year on licensed premises due to one or more of the following reasons.

  • Slips, Falls & Trips:

Slips and falls are one of the greatest cause of workplace injuries. High-risk areas such as stairs/steps, kitchens, toilets, cellars, etc. should be identified.


  • Make sure the floor is slip resistant
  • Check all steps are regular sized and not damaged
  • Ensure good lighting at the steps/stairs and handrails must be provided
  • Mats may be used where there is a risk of spills
  • If there is a cellar on-site, a written procedure should be provided for opening the hatch safely
  • Warning signs or a barrier may be installed to indicate the hatch to the cellar is open
  • Clean up any spills immediately and keep the premises clean and tidy; do not store anything on the stairs; do not clean the stairs when in use, and follow the procedure for safe opening and closing of the hatch
  • Unfamiliar Workplace:

Contractors, caterers, technicians or cleaning staffs that may work on your property or a new employee on their first day, might not be familiar with the layout of your premises or the potential hazards present on-site. Such unfamiliarity poses a higher risk of being injured at your premises.


  • Ensure the new person on the premises has relevant and sufficient qualification and/or experience
  • Premises must have safe access to all areas where people might have to work
  • There must be adequate lighting and warning signs must be put in place in areas that need to be accessed
  • Anyone new on the premises must be provided with safety induction to explain the layout of the premises and go through the emergency procedures
  • Contact details for the duty manager and safety representative must be provided to all new personnel on the premises
  • Fire:

Fire can occur when there is a presence of fuel, oxygen and heat. It is possible for a fire to occur at any time, but it can go undetected and spread further when a premises is empty, for example. Most importantly, a fire risk assessment should be conducted for all workplaces including a licensed premises.


  • A threefold approach can be implemented while conducting a fire risk assessment: fire prevention, followed by fire detection with fire warning and then emergency escape
  • Working fire-fighting equipment must be made available on the premises and all staff must be trained on what to do in case of discovering a fire, how to raise the alarm and use a fire extinguisher
  • All licensed premises must have smoke and heat detectors linked to an automatic fire alarm. These must be checked regularly for correct functioning
  • Emergency exit signs and emergency lighting must always be in good working condition
  • All electrical equipment must be checked and maintained regularly to avoid fire hazards
  • Fire drills should be conducted every six months to ensure the staff are familiar with the premises’ emergency evacuation procedure and escape routes
  • Keg Handling:

Each time a keg is handled, from a delivery location to a storage area, tapping-up and even removal of empty kegs, it poses a risk of joint or back injury from manual handling. A full keg of beer can weigh approximately 62 kilograms.


  • Identify the manual handling risks to the staff and delivery drivers and provide manual handling training
  • A keg trolley must be used for movement of heavy kegs and a keg lifter may be used for stacking. A plastic disk may be used to stack the kegs two-high. Training can be provided to the staff to make them familiar with the correct use of this equipment
  • Keg lifters and keg trolleys should be examined periodically to ensure they are maintained in good condition
  • Ensure there is enough space in the cellar for lifting and handling kegs
  • Safety shoes should be worn by staff handling kegs to protect against injury
  • Waste Management:

It is crucial to implement a cost-effective waste management system on the premises to protect the environment and employees. Waste is generated continuously and hence, should be dealt with on an on-going basis. Waste can include unused food, plastic, paper, cardboard, broken glass, empty bottles, etc.


  • A waste audit should be conducted on the premises to get familiar with the type and amount of waste generated and how it is disposed of.
  • Food Waste can attract vermin. Have a pest control company visit at regular intervals to make sure there is no issue with vermin
  • A licensed waste contractor can advise on the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective method of waste disposal for the premises
  • Recycling bins and composting bins should be provided separately. Bars and clubs can use a glass crusher and compactor
  • Training should be provided to the staff for safe handling and segregation of waste and while working with machines such as the glass crusher, eye and hearing protection must be used
  • Carbon Dioxide Leaks:

CO2 leaks can occur from a Beer Dispensing System in cellars and cold rooms and can be harmful to the staff. CO2 is an odourless and invisible gas which replaces Oxygen and can overwhelm very quickly. It can escape from loose connections at a CO2 cylinder, a faulty gas line or fittings within the cellar.


  • Recognise and communicate the potential risks to employees
  • A CO2 warning system should be installed, and employees should be trained on how to recognise a CO2 leak on the premises
  • A procedure should be put in place on what to do in case of a CO2 leak
  • The CO2 monitor must be assessed and calibrated at least annually by a competent contractor
  • If the cellar is on the ground floor, make sure it is adequately ventilated



Health and Safety Authority – Latest Publications

Irish Statue Book

H&S measures , Health & Safety Risks at Work , workplace safety
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