Health And Safety At Work

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Health And Safety At Work
Health And Safety At Work
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Health and safety at work

The good news: the number of work accidents has fallen sharply over the past twenty years. Despite this positive development, every year many people have an accident at work or an occupational disease is diagnosed. In 2017, the Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt (AUVA) recorded more than 104,000 accidents at work and 1,195 cases of occupational diseases.

Measures for safety and health protection in the company, such as the evaluation of hazards and stresses in the workplace, training, instruction, advice and information, contribute to the avoidance of occupational accidents and occupational illnesses. The statutory worker protection makes an important contribution to this.

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  • What is the social accident insurance responsible for?
  • What does the statutory employee protection regulate?
  • What is important for health protection in the company?

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The most common causes of accidents at work include, for example

  • Loss of control over machines, tools, vehicles and the like
  • Falls
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Lifting, carrying, tipping over

Accidents at work and occupational diseases

Accidents at work not only cause a lot of suffering for those affected, but also economic costs, such as personnel and material costs, lost sales and costs in the healthcare system.

The same applies to occupational diseases, but also to work-related illnesses that are not recognized as occupational diseases. They can be triggered by harmful influences or overloads to which the body is exposed over a long period of time. The most common occupational diseases are:

  • Noise deafness,
  • Skin diseases,
  • Respiratory and lung diseases and
  • Bronchial asthma.

For more information on accidents at work, work-related illnesses and occupational diseases, see Job & Illness.

Note Occupational diseases are damage to health caused by occupational activity. They are included in a list as an appendix to the ASVG (Section 177 and Annex ASVG). In addition, illnesses that are not included in the list of occupational illnesses can also be recognized as such in individual cases via the so-called “general clause”: They must be demonstrably work-related and caused by harmful substances or radiation.

What is the social accident insurance responsible for?

Accidents at work, accidents treated as accidents at work, and occupational diseases and their consequences are covered by social accident insurance as part of statutory social insurance. Your benefits include treatment and vocational rehabilitation as well as financial support.

To prevent it from getting that far, the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases is an important area of ​​responsibility for accident insurance. The measures include, in particular, safety and health information as well as the training and advice of employers, employees and interested persons and institutions, the operation of accident prevention services and prevention centers (e.g. AUVA-safe) but also research on the causes of industrial accidents and Occupational diseases. You can find more information at www.auva.at.

What does the statutory employee protection regulate?

The elimination of the risk of accidents and the risk of occupational diseases or work-related illnesses are goals of statutory employee protection. The safety at work and the health protection of employees are regulated in particular in the Employee Protection Act (ASchG) and in numerous associated ordinances. In addition, other legal regulations for employee protection are also relevant, such as AZG, ARG, MSchG, KJBG, BauKG or chemical regulations (e.g. REACH regulation)

The regulations for the protection of employees regulate e.g

  • the implementation of a humane work design,
  • the use of dangerous machines and tools,
  • the handling of dangerous working materials such as toxic or sensitizing chemicals, welding fumes etc.
  • the design of workplaces, work rooms and sanitary facilities,
  • Non-smoking protection in the workplace,
  • the reduction of exposure to health-hazardous work processes and effects such as noise, heat or cold, vibrations, radiation, etc.,
  • the use of personal protective equipment,
  • the working hours and rest periods as well as
  • the working conditions of young people and pregnant women.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with health and safety regulations. But it is also important that employees are involved and able to contribute to compliance with employee protection regulations, and that they are informed accordingly and, in particular, are instructed on a specific task.

Minimum standards in employee protection are set by the European Union within the framework of EU directives, which must be implemented nationally in the respective member state. At the European level, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) is entrusted with information and awareness-raising work.

Compliance with the legal regulations in Austria is monitored by the following institutions:

  • Labor Inspectorate (Ministry of Social Affairs): responsible for the majority of companies and for federal employees,
  • Transport Labor Inspectorate (Ministry of Social Affairs): responsible for transport companies, e.g. ÖBB, and
  • Land and forestry inspections of the federal states (for links see labor inspection).

You can find detailed information on statutory employee protection on the websites of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Labor Inspectorate (with a list of all laws and regulations).

What is important for health protection in the company?

An important prerequisite for safety and health protection in companies is the identification and assessment of the dangers and the measures derived from them in connection with the occupational activity (job evaluation), which is mandatory for every employer.

Information and instruction of the employees

Employees must be adequately informed about the dangers to safety and health at the workplace and about prevention measures and instructed in accordance with the workplace and area of ​​responsibility. Employee protection can be designed differently depending on the size of the company, the industry and the type of company organization. Fixed points are the legally prescribed functionaries, such as

  • First aiders,
  • Security officers and
  • Preventive specialists (safety specialists and occupational physicians).

Health surveillance

The purpose of health monitoring is the early detection of special diseases (secondary prevention). This includes suitability and follow-up examinations according to § 49 and § 50 (noise exposure) ASchG. Before it can be determined whether an investigation is necessary, the hazard must be identified and assessed. Aptitude and follow-up examinations (Section 49 (1) ASchG, Section 2 VGÜ) must be carried out if there is a risk of an occupational disease during activities and an occupational medical examination is of prophylactic importance - with regard to the health risk associated with the specific activity. These examinations are to be carried out by authorized doctors. You can find more information about health monitoring in the company on the website of the Labor Inspectorate.

Checks of work equipment

The employee protection also provides for regular checks, e.g. of (electrical) systems, machines, tools, apparatus, devices, personal protective equipment or fire protection devices.

Reporting of accidents at work and occupational diseases

Accidents at work and occupational diseases in which a person is killed or incapacitated for more than three days must be reported to the responsible accident insurance institution within five days (Section 363 ASVG). If an occupational disease is suspected, there is also an obligation to report to a doctor.

If an accident occurs, the ASchG also includes obligations such as: Obligation to record fatal accidents at work or accidents at work with a loss of more than three days, obligation to report fatal and serious accidents to the labor inspectorate, review and adjustment of the workplace evaluation, e.g. after accidents and the occurrence of work-related illnesses, and repeated instruction (also near accidents), investigations and investigations into the cause of accidents at work and work-related illnesses.

However, employees must also immediately report every accident at work and every event that almost led to an accident to the responsible person or their supervisor.

Health promotion in the company

Workplace health promotion (WHP) can be a useful addition to traditional preventive health and safety protection. Occupational health management means the link between safety and health protection, occupational health promotion and strategic management.

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