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Health and Safety Representation

Health and safety representation in Croatia is provided primarily through safety representatives, elected by the whole workforce. In slightly larger organisations, there is also a joint safety committee.

 

Basic approach at workplace level

 

 

The employer is responsible for the organisation and implementation of health and safety measures in all areas of work. Collective agreements can be part of the basis of regulation for health and safety, alongside legislation and regulations.

 

 

Employee health and safety bodies

 

 

Employee representatives for safety at work (povjerenici radnika za zaštitu na radu) are the main way in which employees’ health and safety interests are represented. In most medium-sized and larger organisations (more than 50 employees) a joint safety committee (odbor za zaštitu na radu) must be set up and where there are more than 250 employees with workplaces in several separate locations a central safety committee (središnji odbor za zaštitu na radu ) must also be established. Trade unions can also appoint safety representatives if this is provided for in the collective agreement.(In practice there are few collective agreements which cover health and safety.1

Numbers and structure

 

In most cases, the number of employee safety representatives to be appointed is as follows:

 

 

Number of employees

 

 

Number of employee safety representatives

 

 

20 to 75

 

 

1

 

 

76 to 250

 

 

3

 

 

251 to 500

 

 

5

 

 

501 to 750

 

 

7

 

 

751 to 1,000

 

 

9

 

 

There are then an additional two safety representatives for every further 1,000 employees. (As the legislation makes clear, this is exactly the same as the number of works council members who should be elected in similar sized workplaces.)

 

 

In addition, where there are particular risks to health and safety, an employee safety representative must be appointed, even if there are fewer than 20 employees. The number of any trade union representatives to be appointed depends on the collective agreement.

 

 

If there are several employee safety representatives, they should appoint one of their number as a coordinator.

 

 

In most cases where an employer has more than 50 employees a safety committee must be set up. (This is not the case where the minister has agreed that a risk assessment has shown that there are no significant health and safety risks.) The safety committee consists of the employer, or the employer’s agent, the health and safety specialist employed by the organisation, the occupational physician –where there is one, and either the employee safety representatives or the coordinator of the employee safety representatives. The safety committee is chaired by the employer, or the employer’s agent. The labour inspector must also be told when the meetings of the committee are happening and has a right to attend, if he or she considers it appropriate.

 

 

There are no specific rules for the central safety committee, which must be established in organisations with more than 250 employees operating over several locations.

 

 

Task and rights

 

 

There is a general obligation on the employer to ensure that there are procedures in place, which allow workers and their representatives to be consulted on all matters related to health and safety so that they can influence decisions relating to health and safety issues and play a part in making these decisions.

 

 

The main task of the employee safety representative is to act in the interests of the employees in the area of health and safety and monitor the implementation of the regulations and other health and safety measures covering the workplace they represent. Where there are trade union safety representatives, they have the same tasks and rights as other employee safety representatives.

 

 

Employee safety representatives have the right to:

  • submit proposals relating to health and safety decisions;
  • require the employer to take appropriate measures to reduce and eliminate sources of danger;
  • complain to the appropriate authorities where they consider that the employer’s measures have been inadequate;
  • participate in plans to improve working conditions, in the introduction of new technologies and materials, and in encouraging the employer to implement health and safety regulations;
  • be informed about changes that affect workers’ health and safety;
  • access and use the documentation relating to health and safety;
  • receive workers’ health and safety complaints;
  • inform the labour inspectorate of their observations, attend inspections and respond to the inspection findings; and
  • call in the labour inspectorate where there is a threat to the life or health of employees and the employer has failed to do so.

 

Employee safety representatives should also:

  • train and extend their health and safety knowledge; encourage other employees to work safely through their own conduct;
  • inform workers on the health and safety measures the employer has taken; and
  • inform the works council at least every three months of their own activities.

 

In their work they should have access to all the documents and regulations they need.

 

 

Where there is a safety committee, this is the body in which employee representatives are involved in influencing and making decisions relating to health and safety.

 

 

The safety committee also plans and supervises the implementation of health and safety rules and deals with information and training relating to health and safety. The safety commitee plans and implements policies to prevent accidents and occupational disease and to encourage continuous improvement in health and safety.

 

 

Employee safety representatives and the works council are required to promote the safety committee’s work.

 

 

Frequency and terms of meetings

 

 

The safety committee should meet at least every three months and within 48 hours of any death or injury. If the employer fails to call a meeting within 48 hours of a death or injury, the employee safety representatives have the right to do so. The same applies if the employer twice fails to call a normal meeting within three months of the last meeting.

 

 

Election and term of office

 

 

Unless other arrangements have been established in the collective agreement, between the union and the employer, employee safety representatives are elected using the same rules at those that apply to works council elections. This means that they are chosen by the employees in a ballot, which is supervised by an electoral committee of at least three members, appointed by the bodies – unions or groups of employers – who have nominated candidates. Candidates may be nominated, either by unions who have members at the workplace, or by a group of employees representing at least 10% of the workforce. All employees may stand for office; there is no service requirement. Elections are not valid unless at least one third of the employees have voted.

 

 

The term of office is three years.

 

 

Resources and time off

 

 

As in other areas, the legislation states that employee safety representatives should be treated in the same way as works council members, which means they should be given the resources they need to undertake their tasks and have access to the necessary training. On time off, employee safety representatives are entitled to four hours a week (works council members have six). All these areas can be improved through a collective agreement.

 

 

Protection against dismissal

 

 

During their period of office the employer must not dismiss, transfer or place the employee safety representatives at a disadvantage in some other way, unless this has been authorised by the works council.

 

 

Key legislation

 

 

Act on safety and health protection at the workplace (1996 and subsequent revisions up to 2012)

 

 

Zakon o zaštiti na radu, 1996

 

 

 

 

L. Fulton (2013) Health and Safety Representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI (online publication, available at www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations)