Working Environment: Italy Seeks Even Safer Workplaces

Safety and Health at Work are an issue taken very seriously in Italy, and the onus is on employers to cut down job-related risks.

(PresseBox) ( Berlin, )
The protection of workers’ physical and psychological integrity is guaranteed by the Italian Constitution as an absolute principle. Under Legislative Decree 81/2008, as amended by Legislative Decree 106/2009, the employer is mainly responsible for the implementation of safety requirements. The same rules apply to all companies operating in all sectors of activity and with any type of risk, with the exception of companies operating in certain industries, for instance fishing vessels, rail or air transport, or prisons which are regulated by specific laws. The requirements and obligations vary according to the number of employees in a company including seasonal workers and part-timers and project workers, no matter how long their contracts runs and the number of hours they work.

Risk assessments
Under articles 28 and 29 Decree 81/08, companies are required to perform a risk assessment in order to determine which hazards workers face in their specific working environments and how big are the risks involved. This analysis is the job of the employer, and it cannot be delegated or outsourced. The employer is also obliged to consult with representative of the workers’ council (“rappresentante dei lavoratori”, or RLS). Companies employing less than 50 employees can make a risk assessment based on a standardized procedures developed by the Standing Advisory Committee on health and safety at work (Article 6 of Decree 81 / 2008) if workers are not subject to particular risk factors.

In order to limit liability, employers can appoint a safety representative (“Preposto”) who is responsible for making sure the company is in compliance with its legal obligations. The Preposto must also inform his line manager in case of violations and ensure that only properly trained employees have access to areas of high risk.

Health checks
Under Italian law, certain workers must be subject to health checks paid for by the employer. Typical examples include workers exposed to hazardous substances such as biological or chemicals agents. The employer must also ensure that each worker receives sufficient training in health and safety procedures.

Violations of these rules, especially when they lead to injury or death, can lead to serious penalties, fines and even jail time for executives found culpably negligent. Even minor violations can lead to costly administrative fines. In case of serious and repeated safety violations, the entire company or a subsidiary can be closed down by the authorities.

Author
Fabrizio Bianchi Schierholz, ECOVIS Bianchi Schierholz, Montani & Partners, Milano, Italia
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