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The Government approved the draft Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Government approved the draft Occupational Health and Safety Act which seeks to promote a culture of safety, focusing on preventing occupational risk and ensuring that the stipulated measures are realistic and effective.

 

The main goal of the act is to draw up better solutions than those which have applied since the adoption of the current act in July 1999 by considering the principle of rationality of procedures, while not making - due to the new legislation - any concessions in terms of the protection of workers’ health and safety ensured under the applicable legislation.

 

The act is also intended to revise the provisions in order to reduce the administrative burden and related costs, particularly for employers employing small numbers of staff. To this end, the obligations of the self-employed with regard to ensuring their own safety and health have been redefined.

 

To achieve these goals the act reviews the basic constituents of occupational health and safety, including providing information to and training workers, employee participation in managing occupational health and safety, health inspections, and particularly the effects of safety statements and risk assessment. In order to draw up better solutions, the act reviews the individual provisions, which now fully conform with the Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work.

 

The proposed solution for the main document regarding occupation health and safety, the safety statement with risk assessment, eliminates the need for an executive act, as the draft act already stipulates the minimal procedural requirements with regard to risk assessment and the form and content of the safety statement. A new feature is the requirement that employees and others who participate in the work process be informed of the risks and their right to inspect the company’s current safety statement with risk assessment.

 

Providing first aid to employees and other persons present and measures taken to ensure fire safety are also defined in greater detail. Other novelties include provisions on the employer’s obligation to workers performing jobs where there is greater risk of physical violence committed by third persons, and employers’ obligations in cases of mobbing, harassment and other forms of psycho-social risks.

 

Also new are the provisions with regard to ensuring so-called precautionary safety. Before allowing workers to work in a building with working equipment, tools or dangerous substances, employers must obtain all the necessary documentation listing the relevant technical and safety information needed to assess the risk and prepare safety measures. This will contribute to planners, manufacturers and suppliers compliance with safety requirements while designing and planning a building, rather than delaying the enforcement of compliance until it is too late to ensure effective safety.

 

Workers’ health checks must comply with the safety and health risk defined in the assessment of safety. Only in exceptional cases can employers delegate work safety tasks to external services – i.e., only when an employer does not have a properly trained employee. 

 

The Labour Inspectorate of the RS will manage records of fatal accidents at work, accidents incapacitating a worker for over three days, collective accidents, dangerous occurrences, and established occupational diseases, taking into account new provisions on collecting and handling personal data. This will enable the Inspectorate to follow and analyse the reasons for accidents and to plan policies to prevent accidents and work-related diseases.

 

Workers may not work or be at a work place under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other illegal substances. Workers should not be influenced by medications which could affect their mental or physical abilities if the safety statement so determines for a specific position.

 

The act defines anew the obligations of self-employed persons, following the principle of reducing administrative burdens and related costs.

 

The Occupational Safety and Work Council will be replaced by an expert advisory body of the minister for labour, while the scope and type of the dissolved Council’s tasks will remain the same. The act introduces a narrower range of tasks for which one may be granted a work permit valid for seven years. During this time, workers will have to undergo training and update their knowledge according to an executive act. In addition, the possibility for foreign legal persons and self-employed individuals to apply for this type of permit under the same conditions as domestic workers is foreseen, while allowing occasional cross-border work.

 

According to the act, fines will be increased. The Labour Inspectorate has been authorised to impose fines as they see fit within the range prescribed by law, taking into consideration the weight and circumstances of the offence. 

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