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New Law on Safety and Health at Work

New Law on Safety and Health at Work

Serbia
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On April 28, 2023, symbolically on the International Day for Safety and Health at Work, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the New Law on Safety and Health at Work (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 35/2023 – hereinafter: the New Law), which entered into force on May 7, 2023. The New Law brings a large number of novelties in the field of safety and health at work (hereinafter: OSH), and its main goal is the complete alignment of OSH regulation with European standards, and consequently, a significant reduction in the number of injuries at work and occupational diseases of employees.

The most important novelties carried by the new Law on Safety and Health at Work are reflected in the following:

  1. Working from home and working remotely

For the first time in the field of OSH the institute of work from home and remote work is regulated. It envisages the obligation of employers to carry out risk assessment and prescribe measures for safe and healthy work from home and remote work, whereby the employee is given the opportunity to participate in the risk assessment process.

The obligation of the employee was also established to inform the employer about the fulfilment of the conditions for safe and healthy work from home and remotely.

  1. Mandatory training of employees

The New Law introduces mandatory training in the field of OSH, including the obligation of employers to conduct and train employees for the proper use of equipment for safe work.

In particular, the employer is obliged to carry out the training of employees: 

  • when establishing an employment relationship, i.e. other kind of work engagement;
  • transfer to other jobs;
  • when introducing new technology or new means of operation or changing work equipment; and
  • when changing the work process.

During the training for safe and healthy work, the employer is obliged to inform the employee about the risks in the workplace to which he is determined and about the specific measures for the OSH in accordance with the risk assessment act.

  1. Work permits for high-risk business activities

Certainly, one of the most important novelties of the New Law is the introduction of the obligation of employers to, as a special preventive measure, regulate the manner of issuing a work permit that they are obliged to provide to every employee who performs work at height, in depth, in areas with potentially explosive atmospheres, on energy facility, when using dangerous chemical substances, work in areas where there is a serious, unavoidable or immediate danger or harm that can endanger the health of the employee.

The regulation of the procedure for issuing a license for work in high-risk activities is at the disposal of employers.

  1. Medical examinations

The employer is obliged to refer the employee to a medical examination at his request, no later than five years after the previous examination. Also, the obligation of the employer was introduced to provide the employee who performs work at night with a periodic and preliminary medical examination. The cost of medical examinations is borne by the employer.

  1. Refusal of further work of the employee

Cases are prescribed in which an employee may refuse further work, i.e. when his safety and health at work is at risk. Also, the employee has the right to contact the competent labour inspection if the employer does not act on the request for elimination of risks for OSH.

Furthermore, it is stipulated that an employee may leave his workplace if he is threatened with a serious, unavoidable and imminent danger to life or health, and in that case he will not be placed in an adverse situation, nor will he be liable to the employer for compensation of damage, if he did not cause the damage intentionally or out of gross negligence.

  1. E-register of injuries at work and the obligation to report to the competent inspection

A new register of injuries at work is being introduced, established and maintained by the Administration for Safety and Health at work in electronic form. 

Employers are now obliged to immediately, and no later than 24 hours after their occurrence, orally, in writing or electronically report to the competent work inspection and the competent authority of the Ministry of the Interior affairs any fatal, collective or serious injury at work, as well as any dangerous phenomenon that could endanger the safety and health of employees.

Also, employers are now obliged to immediately, and no later than 5 working days from the date of its occurrence, report to the competent work inspection a minor injury at work due to which the employee is not fit to work for more than three days, and within 5 days from the date of delivery of the appropriate opinion of the health institution, to report to the competent work inspection the determined occupational disease. 

  1. Organizing the work of OSH according to the New Law

Organizing the work of OSH according to the New Law The manner of organizing OSH has been completely changed by the New Law, with the introduction of the institute of advisors (person for OSH in high-risk activities), and associates (person for OSH in less risky activities). Now organizing work in this area can be carried out in three different ways:

  1. Internal - Employment agreement with an advisor/associate, who are obliged to have passed the professional exam and a license;
  2. External - By engaging legal entities or entrepreneurs who have a license to perform occupational safety and health activities, and who themselves determine the personality of the advisor / associate, and their number;
  3. Independently - Employers who perform service activities, if they have up to 20 employees and passed the professional exam, can independently implement the measures of the OSH, for which they do not need a license.

In addition, it is mandatory for employers with a larger number of employees (over 250, or 500 employees), to hire more than one advisor / associate depending on the activities they are engaged in.

  1. Enhanced surveillance

The New Law tightened supervision and strengthened the powers of the competent work inspection in order to ensure the effective implementation of the New Law. Thus, an important novelty is the authorization of the work inspector to ban the investor from working on the entire construction site when he determines that the safety and health of the employee are directly endangered. The ban may last as long as circumstances that lead to the endangerment of the safety and health of the employees exist, but not less than 3, 15 or 30 days, depending on how many times the circumstances that lead to the endangerment of safety and health at work on the construction site are determined. 

  1. Tightening of penal policy

In terms of penal policy, the novelty in relation to the previous Law is the prescribing of fines in a fixed amounts and a significant tightening of existing fines. The maximum fines have doubled and as many as 73 different misdemeanours have now been prescribed for breaches of the New Law.

Transitional provisions Finally, it should be emphasized that, although the New Law has already entered into force, a greater number of its provisions will apply only after the relevant bylaws have been adopted.

The deadline for their adoption is 18 months from the date of entry into force of the New Law, and employers have been left with two years to harmonize their business with its provisions.

Until then, the relevant provisions of the applicable bylaws will remain in force. Regardless of the above, all other provisions of the New Law that do not depend on bylaws are already in direct application.

By Marko Ilic, Senior Associate, JPM & Partners

Serbia Knowledge Partner

SOG in cooperation with Kinstellar is a full-service business law firm in Serbia that provides foreign and domestic clients with premium-quality legal advice and assistance across a wide range of key areas of corporate law. The firm was founded in 2015 by a group of seasoned, internationally-trained lawyers. SOG has developed a distinctively dynamic culture, bringing together top talent, fostering entrepreneurship, and maintaining exceptional relationships with its clients.

SOG has achieved consistent growth in the volume of its business, accompanied by an exponential increase in the number of hired associate lawyers and the firm’s network of business contacts. SOG has a robust client base of multinationals, investment and private equity firms, and financial institutions. Clients praise SOG for being commercially minded, very responsive and knowledgeable.

Establishing permanent cooperation with Kinstellar is part of realising SOG's long-term development strategy to be the leading provider of legal services in the Western Balkans market.

Firm's website: https://www.kinstellar.com/

 

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