Safe place of work
As an employer, you are liable to provide your employees with a safe and healthy working environment. Issues related to health and safety at work are governed by the Labour Code. In particular, Unit X sets out the basic obligations of employers and employees, which should lead to the establishment of safe and healthy working environment. In the section Workers and associates you have been introduced to certain obligations towards employees.
Obligations of the employer
The fundamental obligations of the employer with regard to occupational health and safety, are for example:
- organising work in such a way as to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions;
- ensuring compliance with labour legislation and the rules on health and safety and the instructions to resolve safety deficiencies in that regard, as well as monitoring the implementation of these instructions;
- taking into account the health protection of juveniles, pregnant or breastfeeding employees and disabled workers in carrying out preventive activities;
- providing workers with information, inter alia, about the threats to life and health in the workplace, the action to be taken in the event of accidents or of the staff designated to administer first aid;
- providing measures necessary for first aid;
- informing employees about the risks to life and health in the workplace, on particular work posts and carried out work tasks, including procedures to be followed in case of breakdown and other situations threatening the health and life of employees,
- providing employees with personal protective equipment working clothing and footwear free of charge;
- the designation of a coordinator supervising occupational health and safety, in the event that at the same time in the same place work is performed by workers employed by different employers.
Any actions of the employer in the field of health and safety at work must be financed by him, and at no costs may be imposed on employees.
Please note also the reporting requirements in the area of health and safety at work. Useful timeline can be found on the website of the Central Institute for Labour Protection.
Obligations of staff
It is important that within the field of health and safety at work on the side of employee - apart from many powers, there are also obligations. That is important insofar as staff often do not realise it. Therefore, it is worth mentioning, for example a commitment to:
- knowledge of the rules and the principles of health and safety at work, take part in training and coaching and required to undergo examinations;
- perform work in a manner compatible with the rules and principles of health and safety at work and the application of the instructions and guidelines of supervisors issued in this regard;
- ensure the proper condition of the machinery, equipment, tools and order in the workplace;
- the application of collective protection measures, as well as the use of the allocated personal protective equipment and clothing and footwear, in accordance with their intended purpose;
- subjecting to the initial, periodic and regular checkups and other prescribed medical examinations and following medical indication.
Rules on health and safety in the office
In different occupations and sectors different rules on safety at work will apply.
For employees who work in offices very useful might be information concerning the conditions for the organisation of such office, in terms of health and safety at work. In this respect, it should be noted that the employer is required, inter alia, to:
- provide daylight in the premises of permanent employment, unless it is not feasible or appropriate to do so;
- ensure in the offices not less than 18 degrees C (it should be noted that the provisions do not govern the maximum temperature in the offices);
- ensure the cleanliness and order in indoor workplaces, as well as ensure their periodic repair and maintenance.
The provisions of labour law also regulate the question of the arrangement of work stations. They must be equipped in such a way as to suit the type of work of each employee and access to work station must be unrestricted and safe. Apart from the fact that if work requires standing position or walking, the employer is obliged to give the worker rest in a seating position, near his place of employment.
Provisions relating to work for pregnant women at a computer
From 1 May 2017, legislation has changed for work that is onerous or harmful to pregnant women.
The list of activities related to excessive physical exertion, including manual transport of loads, includes, among other things:
1. For pregnant women:
- manual lifting and handling of objects weighing more than 3 kg (limit of 3 kg),
- work in a standing position for more than 3 hours in total during the shift, the time spent in a standing position shall not exceed 15 minutes once, after which there should be a break of at least 15 minutes,
- work at stations with display screens (i.e. concerns persons working at the computer) - a cumulative period exceeding 8 hours per day (the change from the existing 4 hours a day) - time spent at display screen may not exceed 50 minutes, after which there should be a break of at least 10 minutes, which shall be included in the working time
2. For women who are breastfeeding:
- manual lifting and handling of objects weighing more than 6 kg (limit of 6 kg) - ,10 kg (limit of 10 kg), with part-time jobs,
- manual handling of objects weighing more than 6 kg - the height above 4 m or at a distance of more than 25 m.
The provisions of labour law impose on employers and employees a number of obligations concerning health surveillance. This is e.g. the need to undergo preliminary, interim and medical check-ups. Preliminary tests are to be carried out at the time of hiring a worker (sent by the employer) and periodic inspection shall be performed during the employment relationship within the deadline indicated by the doctor. As regards the checks, it should be carried out after the employee's illness lasting longer than 30 days.
Training in the area of health and safety at work
The employer is obliged to ensure that the relevant (applicable to the type of work performed by the employee) training and provide employee with information and instructions relating to his post or work carried out. Such training may be organised and carried out by the employer or by entity acting on behalf of the employer. There are two types of trainings:
- initial - before being allowed to work,
- periodic - aimed at updating and consolidation of knowledge of worker on health and safety at work.
The liability of the employer for the state of health and safety at work
You should know that if working conditions are not in compliance with the regulations on health and safety and pose an immediate danger to life or health, a worker may refuse to work. In such a case, the employer shall be charged to the costs linked to employee's remuneration, although he does not perform his work.
The employer also bears criminal liability for the state of occupational health and safety in his own workplace. According to the Labour Code, ‘ that who is responsible for the state of health and safety at work or managing employees or other natural persons, fails to comply with health and safety rules, shall be liable to a fine of PLN 1000 to PLN 30,000'.
Those entrepreneurs who provide workers with personal protective equipment, or without proper authorisation/consent allow adolescents to work may face sanctions.