A new Law no. 135/2016 "On safety and health at work, emergencies and rescue in mining and underground works of Hydropower plants" (the "Law") has entered into force on January 27, 2017.

Albania is rich in water reserves and over the past decade a special focus is set on the water resources exploitation for energy production, granting by concession the most part of Albanian water cascades. However, Hydropower stations can pose significant safety risks to those who work in them.

Aiming to strengthen the state inspection system, the Law has introduced for the first time, inter alia, the concept of monitoring and control by state authorities of the underground works such as tunnels, galleries, channels, wells, etc. in hydropower plants. The previous Department of Inspection and Rescue of Mines responsible for the safety control in the underground mining works is replaced by the National Authority for Security and Emergencies in Mines (AKSEM) a directorate under the Minister of Energy and Industry. AKSEM inspectors' activity shall cover not only the mining underground works but also those of hydro-energy plants.

The implementation of the new law would lead to the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses of employees and other persons performing work, as well as property damage and incidents in the construction of underground works in hydroelectric power plants and in the mining activities.

Prior to commencement of its operations, any subject in possession of a mining permit and any subject contracting a specialized service over a mining permit, as well as any subject that has reached a contractual agreement to carry out underground work for Hydropower plants, is required to be registered with AKSEM and declare the relevant persons in charge with the administrative and technical management as well as safety at work problems. In the event of dangerous accidents or fatalities, as well as in cases of serious emergency requiring emergency intervention and rescue corps, the operators must immediately notify AKSEM.

Entities who do not guarantee safety at work may be subject to fines by AKSEM up to the revocation of the license by the Minister. AKSEM can also suspend execution of works in objects evaluated as threatening to the life of the employees or in entities that are not complying with the technical rules on safety and health at work.

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.