7 April is UN World Health Day and one way employers can protect their employees' health and wellbeing at work is through regular training. We take a look at new training duties for employers in Italy, and the position in other countries.
Health and safety law in Italy
In Italy, according to the legal provision aimed at preventing accidents at work (Legislative Decree n° 81/2008), employers must:
- draw up a Risk Identification and Assessment Document (DVR);
- provide training for workers;
- guarantee health monitoring;
- adopt an evacuation plan and put up safety signs;
- appoint people to be in charge of accident prevention and health and safety protection and supervisors.
People and responsibilities
The regulation also identifies the duties and responsibilities of different actors involved, specifically:
- the employer;
- the head of the prevention and protection service;
- worker' 'safety representatives;
- the competent doctor;
- people in charge of fire prevention, fire-fighting, first aid, emergency, medical care, evacuation of workers in case of danger;
- the health and safety supervisor (preposto).
The new training obligations
Recently, new rules concerning workplace health and safety training obligations were introduced by Law - Decree no. 146/2021, with the aim of reducing the number of accidents in the workplace. The new regulation will be in force from 30 June 2022.
Firstly, the Decree imposes new specific training obligations on the employer. For the first time, employers, together with the health and safety supervisor, must receive adequate and specific training and periodic updates in the field of health and safety at work.
In addition, it will now be mandatory for the health and safety supervisor, to receive an update to his or her training every two years (or more frequently, if required by the employer or workplace specific circumstances). This is more frequent than under the previous regulation which required refresher training every five years. Health and safety supervisors will also have extended powers, including the power to suspend employees' activity when necessary for OHS reasons, and to start disciplinary procedures against employees in the event of violations of OHS rules.
Finally, the new regulation also introduced additional elements concerning the content of mandatory training. It will not be sufficient to simply provide theoretical training: practical and 'in the field', hands-on training on the correct and safe use of equipment, machines, plant, substances and devices will become mandatory. Moreover, the training carried out must be recorded in a special register, and be followed by specific practical tests on its content.
The importance of training
The new rules confirm the increased importance of, and attention given to, health and safety in the workplace and, specifically, to the importance of training employees to guarantee a safe working environment.
The view from other places.
In Brazil, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that occupational, health and safety regulations are observed and followed by employees both at the employer's premises and at home for those working on telework or home office regimes. Regulatory Norms issued by the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, known as NRs, regulate mandatory occupational health and safety standards. To date, 37 NRs have been issued and regulate issues such as hazardous and unhealth working conditions, ergonomics, open-air work, working in confined spaces among many others.
With regard to remote work, which greatly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, article 75-E of the Brazilian Labor Code provides that it is the employer's responsibility to instruct remote working employees about measures to avoid accident and work-related diseases, including:
- workstation and equipment checks (whether provided by the employer or acquired by the employee himself/herself) to verify if they comply with health and safety rules;
- training, instructions, and guidance on how keep a safe and health work environment;
- preparation of a safety manual, developing a training routine and preparing template documentation to demonstrate training has been delivered to employees.
Employees may be held responsible for not complying with health and safety rules, which could lead to disciplinary sanctions.
In the Czech Republic there is no general obligation of practical training in the field of occupational safety. However, this obligation can be found in specific sectors (such as driving rail vehicles, pyrotechnics etc.)
Moreover, practical training may be part of the operating instructions for some devices.
In practice, we find that some employers carry out practical training, especially those in dangerous workplaces. This practice is highly recommended.
In Greece, employers must provide information and training to workers at various stages of their employment (e.g., recruitment, change of duties, information on new equipment, etc.) on the risks associated with their duties. Employees must attend relevant seminars or other training programmes on health and safety issues.
Labour Law 4808/2021 recently incorporated Convention 190 of the International Labor Organization on violence and harassment in the workplace' into Greek law' and includes psychosocial dangers in the dangers related to employment.
Under it, employers must:
- provide employees with information on the potential risks of violence and harassment in the workplace and on prevention and protection measures;
- display and make accessible information on the procedures for reporting and dealing with this conduct, including contact details for the competent administrative and judicial authorities;
- receive, investigate and handle any complaint or report with zero tolerance for violence and harassment, in a confidential manner, respecting human dignity and not obstruct any report or complaint;
- provide assistance and access to any competent authority in the investigation of such an incident or conduct, if requested;
- designate a contact person at company level, responsible for guiding and informing employees on how to prevent and deal with violence and harassment at work.
The new rules confirm the need to train and inform employees not only about physical but also about psychosocial work-related risks.
Each organisation in Kazakhstan must create and monitor its Occupational Safety Management System (OSMS). Among many other elements, the OSMS must include different types of training for employees on occupational health and safety issues.
The OSMS must implement relevant measures (including training) in different speres, including in occupational health and safety of employees; fire safety; industrial safety at hazardous production facilities; traffic safety; electrical safety; sanitary requirements in the field of COVID-19 prevention; and other legislation requirements (eco-safety, anti-terrorism safety and other civil protection).
OSMS must cover all structural subdivisions of organisation; employees; and individuals who are in the territory, in buildings and structures within the employer's liability.
Employers must ensure that each employee receives sufficient and appropriate health and safety training, focused on his/her workstation or function. Other actors, such as designated employees, as well as the safety and health representative, must receive appropriate training.
Designated employees are employees appointed by the employer to deal with protection and prevention of professional risks in the company. The training arrangements for designated employees are different for each company and are detailed in a Grand-Ducal regulation. As an example, for companies employing workers who do not occupy risky positions, designated employees have to follow training cycle consisting in, at least four hours of basic training and eight hours of specific training, or any other training recognised as equivalent by the Minister, taking into account the risks present in the company. This training cycle must be followed by additional trainings of a total of four hours within a period of five years. For companies employing workers in high-risk positions, the training cycle for designated employees involves significantly more hours of training.
The safety and health representative (appointed by the staff delegation) can make a weekly inspection tour of the company and must be consulted by the employer on certain matters (risk assessment, protective measures to be taken, appointment of designated employees, etc.). He or she is entitled to a basic training (not exceeding eight hours) and additional training to be determined by the Minister. The safety and health representative is also entitled to an update of his/her training every five years.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.