Health and safety at work in Italy:

Caution ! The DVR (see here-below for further details) must include the assessment of work stress (new obligation) before December 31st 2010.

Italian companies are required to adopt, in the interests of preventing accidents at work and occupational illnesses, a system of precautionary measures.

The new legal regime incorporates the content of Article 2087 of the Italian Civil Code, specifying that the employer is required to eliminate the risks present in the workplace in the light of existing technical knowledge and, where this is not possible, to reduce them to a minimum. Failure to observe the obligations imposed on the employer and on those designated in the various sectors is also made a punishable offence.

In Italy, health and safety at work are regulated by Legislative Decree Law 81/2008 (known as the Testo Unico Sicurezza Lavoro) recently modified. This decree transposes in Italy, the European Directive on the protection of safety and health of workers, coordinated in a single piece of legislation that provides for specific sanctions against defaulters.

The main provisions are related to the organization of thorough procedures to improve health and safety. The employer is required, in particular, to organize within the enterprise a protective and preventive service responsible for identifying risk factors and for their elimination or reduction to a minimum. The Decree also contains a number of stipulations on medical screening, establishing the person of a doctor responsible for the regular assessment and certification of employees’ physical fitness to perform the tasks assigned to them. Another of its important provisions concerns the election or appointment of a workforce representative on matters of health and safety who enjoys particular information and consultation rights.

In addition, the employer is under an obligation to provide employees with all general information on the risks present in the workplace and specific information on the risks associated with performance of the tasks assigned to individuals. Lastly, employees must receive adequate health and safety training specific to their own particular job at the time of their recruitment, in the event of a transfer or change of job, and in the event of the introduction of new work equipment or any new technology. There is also provision for special and appropriate training for safety representatives.

Omission of the necessary precautions put upon the employer criminal liability and the right of the employer to ask damages.

Italian companies and subsidiaries who have not yet provided for the risk assessment, the preparation and updating of the document of evaluation of the risks, the establishment of prevention and protection service, the appointment of employees and the Service Manager Prevention and Protection, training courses, etc., risk an arrest from three (3) to six (6) months or a fine ranging from Euro 2,500 to Euro 6400 (art. 55, para. 1, TUSL) and the suspension of business (and its ban on bargaining with the Public Administration).

The Legislative Decree Law n.81/2008 (TUSL) provides in Article 28 that all public and private Italian companies MUST draft and update a formal Document for the Evaluation of Risks (“Documento di Valutazione dei Rischi“), under the direct liability of the employer.

The measures of prevention and protection, as well as personal protective equipment (“Dispositivi di Protezione Individuale“) and the actions to be taken to update all the prevetion measures will have to be implemented immediately or in a very short term if there is a matter of urgency, or will be included in the programming business when it comes to work adjustment provided for in the medium or long term.

Article 28 of TUSL sets that the Risk Assessment Document (DVR) must have the following contents:

  • Report on Risk Assessment: containing details of all the risks to health and safety during work. This analysis is usually divided according to several risk factors, such as: workplace, machinery, equipment, chemical, physical and biological, organizational and management issues, etc.. The analysis is preceded by information on the organizational chart and business. Should also indicate the criteria used for risk assessment.
  • A statement of the measures of prevention and protection implemented in order to eliminate the above risks identified, or if it is not possible to completely eliminate them, reduce the risk to an “acceptable” level.
  • Identification of procedures for the implementation of security measures;
  • Indication of the Service Manager for the Prevention (Responsabile del Servizio per la Prevenzione e Protezione), of the Protection of Workers’ Safety Representative (Rappresentante dei Lavoratori per la Sicurezza) and the Company’s Doctor (Medico Competente);
  • List of personal protective equipment (DPI), which are protective clothing for workers to wear the personal protective equipment (eg safety shoes, helmet, gloves, masks, etc.).
  • Program of the measures it considers necessary to ensure the improvement of safety standards over time, which means all those measures to be taken to improve levels of safety over time (maintenance, inspections, information activities and training of workers etc…)
  • Identifying the tasks that expose workers to specific risks.

It is generally useful to integrate the Risk Assessment Document (DVR) with the following information:

  • Safety procedures at work (policies, circular or written arrangements);
  • Floor plans of the building/units analyzed in the DVR.

The Risk Assessment Working Document (DVR) should be drafted and updated in a specific way, particularly for large and medium-sized companies. For small business with limited risk it can be done via self-certification (up to 10 workers) or with standardized criterias (up to 50 workers).

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