Occupational safety and health: laws and obligations in Italy
Safety at work is an essential aspect of every company organisation and it is no coincidence that the legislator has intervened several times to deal with this matter, making additions from time to time.
A fundamental regulatory reference is represented by the consolidated Law on Security (Legislative Decree 81/08, often referred to by the acronym TUS in Italian) which gives health and safety definition.
In this article we see in detail what are the main obligations regarding safety and hygiene at work for all Italian companies (regardless of the number of employees and the typology), such as:
- Drafting of the DVR
- Appointment of the Safety Manager
- Training of employees
- Health surveillance
- Emergency management
- Safety on construction sites (if pertinent)
Risk assessment document in Italy (DVR)
The Risk Assessment Document (DVR-Italian acronym) is the document that describes the risks and prevention measures for health and safety in the workplace: this document is mandatory for all companies in Italy with at least one employee.
The main law for safety in the workplace is Legislative Decree 81/2008, which also establishes heavy penalties for those who do not comply with this obligation.
The DVR is a document that identifies the possible risks present in a workplace: this document analyses, evaluates and tries to prevent dangerous situations for workers.
Following the risk assessment, in fact, a precise improvement plan is implemented with the aim of eliminating or reducing the likelihood of dangerous situations.
The main person in charge of the DVR is the Employer: he cannot delegate this activity but, in any case, he can decide to rely on a technician specialized in the field of safety at work for advice.
Together with the employer there are also other professional figures who are involved in the drafting of the DVR:
- The Manager of the Prevention and Protection Service (Italian acronym is RSPP, HSE Manager in English) who collaborates with the employer in the risk assessment phase and establishes the protection and prevention measures;
- The Competent Doctor / Doctor of work (Italian acronym is MC) who contributes to assess the specific risks in relation to the health of the workers and is responsible for preparing the health surveillance protocol;
- The Workers' Representative (Italian acronym is RLS) who is consulted in advance on the content of the risk assessment and must receive a copy for inspection.
Appointment of Safety Manager in Italy (RSPP)
The Manager of the Prevention and Protection Service (often abbreviated with the acronym RSPP in Italian) is an important professional figure within the company. It is appointed by the Employer and is mandatory in all cases in which even one employee is present.
The Prevention and Protection Service Manager plays a main role within the company, as he reports directly to the Employer. Often in international realities it takes the name of Safety Manager or HSE Manager.
Specifically, in accordance with the provisions of art. 33 of Legislative Decree 81/08, the RSPP must:
- Identify the dangers and assess the risks present in the company
- Collaborate with the Employer for the preparation of the Risk Assessment Document
- Develop safety measures suitable for the prevention of diseases and accidents at work
- Develop the safety procedures for the individual work phases
- Propose employee information and training programs
- Participate in consultations on the protection of health and safety at work, as well as in the periodic annual meeting (when foreseen)
- Provide workers with information on the risks present in the company.
Companies can choose to appoint an internal person to the team or, alternatively, choose an external H&S manager (RSPP esterno in Italian). This second hypothesis is particularly advantageous for companies that do not have adequate internal skills in safety and for all those of significant size or that carry out potentially dangerous activities, in which the support of specialists in the sector becomes essential.
If your company is looking for an external Prevention and Protection Service Manager or needs support advice, Safetyone Ingegneria Srl is the solution you were looking for.
Safety and health training courses in Italy
According to Italian law, risk assessment training must be given to their workers in all companies in order not to risk sanctions.
There are many compulsory training courses and all paid by the employer: from general to specific training, up to emergency management (which we analyse in a later chapter).
All workers who carry out a professional activity within a specific company location are required to follow compulsory training divided into two parts: general (4 hours) and specific (duration based on the risk range).
General training deals with the fundamental topics of safety and health and is common to all types of companies.
Specific training differs according to the level of risk that characterizes the sector of competence: low, medium and high.
- Low risk (4 hours): street vendors, restaurateurs, artisans, tourist agents and merchants for example
- Medium risk (8 hours): transporters, warehouse workers for example
- High risk (12 hours): workers engaged in construction, chemistry and, in general, in the processing of hazardous substances.
There are also other courses required by law in Italy.
For example, companies often also have Supervisors (Preposti in Italian), people who organize or supervise the activities of other workers. They require specific training. The course has a duration of 8 hours and includes a five-year update of 6 hours.
In some cases, companies are also Safety Executive (Dirigenti in italian). Those who hold the role of manager in the company must follow a specific training course of 16 hours and includes a five-year update of 6 hours.
Instead, the course for the Health and Safety Manager in the company must be carried out by the owner (when possible by law) and in this case the course lasts from 16 to 48 hours (depending on the level of company risk) or by an employee or external consultant.
In the latter case, three modules are required: Module A (lasting 28 hours) Module B (lasting at least 48 to which a variable specialization module between 12 and 16 hours must be added for some sectors) and finally the Module C lasting 24 hours.
Finally, the Worker Safety Representative (acronym RLS in Italian) has the right to specific training: the duration and specific contents of the training are established in the national collective bargaining stage. The minimum duration of the courses is 32 hours while the current one varies from 4 to 8 hours per year depending on the number of employees in the company.
Health surveillance in Italy
Another important (and mandatory) topic for companies is health surveillance, which aims to safeguard the health of employees.
Occupational medicine is that section of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases caused by work tasks through the occupational medical examination.
Each Company, after having carried out the Risk Assessment provided for by Legislative Decree 81/08 if there are risks for which the law provides for Health Surveillance, must appoint a Competent Doctor / Doctor of work (acronym MC in Italian).
First, the medical examination of the work serves to evaluate the physical fitness conditions of the worker with respect to the job that he will have to carry out within the company.
The occupational doctor specializes in occupational medicine and has particular expertise in identifying the symptoms caused by the exposure of the worker to: dangerous chemical agents, carcinogens, physical agents, noise, optical radiation, vibrations, microclimate, manual handling of loads, biological agents, bacteria, viruses, parasites, incongruous postures, work-related stress, repetitive movements, night work, video terminals, alcohol and drugs (drug test) etc.
We can therefore speak of a preventive work medical examination, for example on hiring and periodic work medical examination.
The periodicity of the medical examination of the workplace will be foreseen within the company health plan based on the risks present in the company.
The company doctor writes a judgment of suitability (total or partial) after following the medical examination.
One of the attachments to the Risk Assessment Document is the Emergency Plan.
The emergency plan contains the key information needed to implement the first behaviours such as:
- safeguard and evacuate people (primary objective)
- compartmentalize and confine the fire
- try to extinguish the fire.
Emergency teams must be present in every company.
Specifically, the Company appoints firefighters and first aid officers.
The emergency workers attend specific courses based on the fire risk range (low fire risk 4 hours - medium fire risk 8 hours - high fire risk 12 hours) and, for first aid, based on the number of employees and the type of activity carried out (from 12 to 16 hours).
Furthermore, in any work environment, the emergence plan must be available which illustrates the Emergency Plan.
Safety and health in construction sites in Italy
If the work is carried out within a construction site, the situation becomes complicated because there are other obligations defined by Title IV of Legislative Decree 81/08.
Each construction site has a safety coordinator in the planning and execution phase (CSP and CSE - Italian acronyms) who elaborates a document called Coordination Safety Plan (Italian acronym PSC).
Therefore, every company, to enter in a construction site, must write its own Operational Safety Plan (POS acronym in Italian).
Finally, there are procedures established by law for subcontracting and to verify the technical and professional suitability of subcontractors.
How much does it cost to comply with safety obligations?
The cost for health and safety consultancy varies according to the type of activity and the number of employees, for example:
- Safety Manager - cost starting from 800 euros per year
- Drafting of the DVR - starting from 500 euros
- Safety courses/training - starting from 40 euros
- Appointment of the Occupational Medicine Doctor - cost starting from 200 euros per year
In Italy, however, employers remain co-responsible in the event of an accident or occupational disease. Sanctions are often criminal. It is really important that the employer has a good risk assessment of their company. It is always suggested to rely on expert consultants in the sector.
Do you need advice on health and safety in the company?
Thanks to twenty years of experience in the sector, Safetyone Ingegneria supports entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes and types towards bringing workplaces and construction sites up-to-date with regard to safety at work.