Occupational health and safety: employer's obligations

Verified 16 June 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

The employer must ensure the health and safety of its workers by taking preventive, information and training measures.

It must also assess the occupational risks at each workstation.

These risks are documented.

Accident at work The employer also has an obligation to inform the labor inspectorate in the event of a fatality.

In case of non-compliance with these obligations, its civil and/or criminal liability may be engaged.

  • Private-law employers
  • Public health facilities
  • Social and medico-social establishments
  • Epic: titleContent and  Epa: titleContent employing staff under private law conditions

Any employee and any person under the authority of the employer (employees in DTA: titleContent or CSD: titleContent, temporary workers, trainees) are concerned.

The employer must take measures to ensure the safety and to protect the mental and physical health of all workers on their workplaces.

Actions to prevent occupational risks 

The employer must take measures to prevent occupational risks in the following areas:

  • Risks of falls from a height (for example, prohibiting the use of a ladder as a work station at a height and setting up a light individual rolling platform)
  • Risks of contact with an operating element on a machine (e.g. prohibiting the use of a drill with a column if the protector of the mandrel is defective)
  • Psychosocial risks such as work overload, aggression, and internal and/or external violence
  • Chemical hazards (e.g. prohibiting the use of hazardous chemicals by employees who have not been trained and informed about the toxicity of the product)
  • Provisions on exposure to certain occupational risk factors (laboriousness) : for example, manual handling of loads, mechanical vibrations, noise, certain working rhythms

Information and training measures

The employer must implement information and training measures for the following employees:

  • New hires
  • Employees who change jobs
  • Temporary workers
  • Employees returning to work after being seen by the occupational doctor

Organization and appropriate means

For example:

  • Modify working hours in the context of atmospheric conditions (heat wave) with the aim of reducing the risk of accidents at the workplace
  • Put in place personal protective equipment and require the wearing of helmets, gloves, non-slip safety shoes on a building site

Risk assessment in the company

The employer must avoid risks.

If this is not possible, it must assess the risks and implement preventive measures.

Risk Assessment Definition:

  • The danger is the capability of a material, substance or method of work that can cause a harmful event
  • The risk is the association of a hazard with a worker

For example, an electrical room is dangerous, but if no one can access it, there is no risk of electrocution.

Given the nature of the company's business, the employer must assess risks that cannot be avoided by:

  • Choice of manufacturing processes, work equipment, chemical substances or preparations
  • Development or reorganization of workplaces or facilities
  • Defining Workstations

Single Occupational Risk Assessment Document (DUERP)

The results of this assessment are inserted into a document called Single Risk Assessment Document (DUERP). This document is mandatory in all companies.

Implementation of actions

Following this assessment, the employer must implement preventive actions (e.g. safety training).

It must add working and production methods that guarantee a better level of health and safety protection (for example, reducing duplication of work).

General and specific instructions

The rules and regulations where it exists (a company with a workforce ⩾ 50 employees) must lay down safety instructions.

In other cases, it is the employer or his representative who gives them.

The employee must, in accordance with the general and specific instructions, take care, depending on the training received, of health and safety and that of his colleagues.

Accident at work Obligation to inform a

Transmission delay

When an employee is the victim of an accident at work which has caused his death, the employer must inform him accordingly the competent labor inspectorate for the place where the accident occurred.

He must make that statement immediately and no later than 12 hours after the death of the employee.

If the employer becomes aware of the death of the employee after this period, it shall inform the labor inspectorate within 12 hours from the time of knowledge of the death.

Please note

The information provided by the employer to the labor inspectorate is provided by any means which makes it possible to determine the date on which this information is sent, for example by post in RAR: titleContent.

Content of the information to be transmitted

The information forwarded to the labor inspectorate shall include the following:

  • Name or business name, postal and e-mail addresses and telephone details of the company or establishment which employs the worker at the time of the accident and the company or establishment in which the accident occurred, if different of the employing company or establishment
  • Surname, first name and date of birth of the victim
  • Date, time, place and circumstances of the accident
  • Identities and contact details of witnesses, if necessary

Civil penalty

In the event of danger, even if it did not lead to an accident or illness, the employee may take note of the break of his employment contract.

The employee may to refer the matter to the labor council in an attempt to obtain redress for the allegations which gave rise to the taking of the record.

The employer has a enhanced security of means obligation accident at work and must justify having taken sufficient measures to protect workers from an occupational disease and/or an occupational disease.

In the event of failure to comply with this obligation, the employer shall be liable to financial compensation for damage before the social pole of the court of law for an inexcusable mistake.

Criminal and/or administrative sanctions

Exposing an employee to an identified risk, without taking the necessary preventive measures, is a breach ofenhanced security of means obligation of the employer.

Failure to do so may result in a criminal conviction in the correctional court.

The departmental director responsible for employment, labor and solidarity (DDETS or DDETS-PP, ex-Direct) may issue administrative sanctions against the employer.

Please note

An employer who fails to comply with the obligation to inform the labor inspectorate of a accident at work fatal is liable to the fine for contraventions of 5e class:

  • For a natural person, until €1,500 , (up to €3,000 in case of recurrence)
  • For a legal person, until €7,500 (up to €15,000  in case of recurrence)