Where to begin?
- Every enterprise shall have a working environment specialist.
- An employer has an obligation to provide instruction and training to employees.
- The employer shall also prepare a risk analysis of the working environment.
Every enterprise shall have a working environment specialist (section 16 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act) – an employee with working environment-related knowledge and skills who the employer has authorised to perform occupational health and safety responsibilities in the enterprise. The employer has three options for designating a working environment specialist:
- designate a working environment specialist from among his or her employees;
- use the services of an outside service provider;
- perform the duties of a working environment specialist himself or herself (as a member of the management board).
It is reasonable to start activities in the field of the working environment by designating a working environment specialist who will make a plan for further activities and implement the plan.
The Labour Inspectorate shall be notified of the appointed working environment specialist within 10 days as of the appointment, by submitting his or her given name and surname, position and contact details.
A working environment representative is a representative elected by employees in occupational health and safety issues, and his or her term of authority is decided by the meeting of employees (subsection 17 (1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act). In an enterprise which employs 10 employees or more, the employees shall elect one working environment representative from among themselves. If an enterprise employs less than 10 employees, the employer is required to consult with the employees on matters of occupational health and safety (subsection 17 (2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).
The employer shall notify the Labour Inspectorate of the names and positions of the elected working environment representatives through the working environment database or in a format which can be reproduced in writing within ten days after the election.
Pursuant to subsection 181 (1) of Occupational Health and Safety Act an employer shall organise training for a working environment representative necessary for the performance of their duties within two months as of their election. Training shall be provided after the election even if the same working environment representative is re-elected.
Pursuant to subsection (2) of that section, an employer shall organise refresher training for a working environment representative if:
- there are new hazards or health risks present in the working environment;
- there have been significant changes in legislation governing occupational health and safety;
- the working environment representative, a member of the working environment council, the employer or the Labour Inspectorate deems it necessary.
The training and refresher training shall be carried out by a manager of a continuing education institution according to the requirements of the Adult Education Act. If the need for refresher training arises from new hazards or health risks present in the working environment, refresher training may be carried out by the employer if the employer has the necessary knowledge and skills.
The organisation of first aid shall be thought through (section 132 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act) – designate providers of first aid, organise training or refresher training for them if necessary, acquire first aid equipment and place it in an easily accessible place. It is also important to inform employees about first aid arrangements.
Instruction and training
An employer shall organise instruction and training for the employees and prepare safety instructions regarding the works performed and work equipment used (section 133 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).
An employer shall instruct an employee before commencement of work. Above all, the following shall be disclosed during instruction:
- the enterprise’s occupational health and safety requirements and the contact details of the working environment representative and the working environment specialist;
- the results of the risk assessment of the working environment, including the employee’s working environment hazards, health risks and measures taken to prevent damage to health;
- safety requirements for the work to be performed and the working equipment used;
- ergonomically correct working positions and techniques;
- use of personal protective equipment;
- what to do in the event of damage to health, including instructions for first aid, use of first aid equipment and its location, emergency number;
- emergency number 112 and contact details of the first aid provider;
- electrical and fire safety requirements;
- instructions on what to do in the case of risk of an accident and an accident, safety signs used in the workplace, and locations of emergency exits and routes and
- locations of fire extinguishers;
- instructions for preventing contamination of the environment.
An employer shall register the date and essence of the instruction and training in writing or in a format which can be reproduced in writing. An employee shall confirm such instruction and training in writing or in a format which can be reproduced in writing.
Risk assesment of the working environment
Risk assessment of working environment shall be organised in every enterprise (clause 13 (1) 3) and section 134 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A risk assessment shall ascertain working environment hazards, measure their parameters as necessary and assess the risks to the health and safety of an employee, taking into account the gender, age and health characteristics of employees, especially risks to pregnant and breastfeeding employees and minor and disabled employees, and risks related to the use of workplaces and work equipment and to work organisation. The employer shall prepare the risk assessment in the working environment database or in a format which can be reproduced in writing and forward it to the Labour Inspectorate.
A written action plan shall be prepared on the basis of the risk assessment designating the measures applied in all fields of activity and at all management levels of the enterprise to prevent or reduce employees’ health risks, and a schedule for applying such measures and executors thereof. The necessary resources for carrying out the action plan shall be allocated (subsection 13 (4) 2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).
The self-service environment of the Labour Inspectorate has a tool for risk assessment. The new tool takes into consideration the wish expressed by many enterprises that it should be easy and provide helpful content. The new tool places emphasis on the acknowledgement of risks and taking measures to prevent accidents. The tool presents typical hazards related to different areas of activity and also gives the employer a number of measures to mitigate these hazards. An employer can use this tool to check whether possible measures to mitigate the hazard have already been taken or whether they should be included in the enterprise’s action plan and implemented in the future.
An employer shall organise a medical examination for an employee whose health may be affected by the following environment hazards or nature of work:
- electromagnetic fields;
- artificial optical radiation;
- ionising radiation;
- dangerous chemicals and materials containing such chemicals, including carcinogens and mutagens;
- biological hazards;
- work with display screen equipment;
- manual handling of loads;
- work in a constant forced position, including in a sitting or standing position;
- other hazards or nature of the work.
For example, a medical examination shall be organised for employees who spend more than half of their working time working with display screen equipment (subsection 3 (5) of the Government of the Republic Regulation No. 362 of 15 November 2000 “Occupational health and safety requirements for working with display screen equipment”).
Normally, a medical examination shall be organised within four months as of the time the employee commences work at the employer’s expense.
An employer is also required to conduct regular internal control of the working environment, in the process of which the employer plans, organises and monitors the occupational health and safety situation in the enterprise (clause 13 (1) 1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act).
You can find more information in the brochure The ABCs of work for employer.
The Labour Inspectorate offers employers a free consultation service. You can invite a working environment consultant to the enterprise to review the working environment and documents (risk assessment, safety instructions, etc.), identify problems and discuss how to make the working environment safer. The consultation may also focus, for example, on providing instructions and training to employees. You can read more about the service on the webpage of the Labour Inspectorate.