The State Secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy of the Government of the Republic of Serbia announced the new Act on health and safety at work, which is to be adopted by the end of the year. The new Act is intended to enhance the level of protection at work and to impose a general standard of safety which would lead to a better and healthier work environment.
The problem: sporadic application of precautionary measures
One of the main gaps in the existing Act is the lack of obedience among the working public. The measures of precaution, which are intended to decrease the possibility of the unfortunate events occurrence, are not implemented in an orderly way, but rather sporadically. The aforementioned led to an unrealistic condition where courts sought for prescribed fines in the amount of 246 million RSD as opposed to the amount of approximately 4 billion RSD, which would occur if the courts applied not even the highest, but average level fines from related legal provisions. Additionally, the courts never imposed a maximum sentence of 12 years which, according to experts, led to a decrease in liability among employers and employees.
Auxiliary, the number of deaths at work dramatically amplified with a count of 53 deaths during the year of 2019, which ironically led to the Serbian Government pronouncing the year of 2019 as the year of health and safety at a workplace.
The resolution: A wiser application of pre-existing requisites
The State Secretary stated that the area of health and safety at a workplace does not require major investments and that the state already has a sufficient number of experts. Therefore, changes in the Act itself would suffice in the resolution of the issue and would bring the health and safety standard to a higher level.
The new Act will include the following novelties:
- A bigger fine for legal offenses in the amount of up to 2 million RSD;
- Mandatory fines without the right to appeal;
- An obligation to use a safety harness for work at height, depth and energy facilities;
- Work at height, depth and energy facilities will only be performed by licensed people;
- Mandatory study on the construction site for activities lasting more than three days;
- Mandatory training for both employers and employees ;
- Mandatory health checks every 5 years;
- Companies will need to hire competent personnel in the area of health and safety.
A high level of health and safety at a workplace is a requirement for the normal and stable functioning of the Company. Therefore, legal entities aiming to achieve better results, increase the efficiency of staff, and create a more harmonic work atmosphere should start from the foundation – adequate work conditions, and adapt their business conduct to most recent legal updates in this area.
This text is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Should you require any additional information, feel free to contact us.
By Milos Velimirovic, Partner, and Anastasija Milosevic, Associate, Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic