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Health and Safety Representation

Employees elect representatives for health and safety issues, and in workplaces with as few as five employees it is obligatory to elect someone. In workplaces with 10 or more employees these elected representatives sit on a safety committee. Their powers are consultative and advisory but they can call in the national inspectorate if needed.

 

Basic approach at workplace level

 

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. However, they should consult with elected employees’ representatives on health and safety issues. In workplaces with 10 or more employees this should be done through a safety committee.

 

Employee health and safety bodies

 

Employee representation in the area of health and safety is provided through the elected safety representative in workplaces with fewer than 10 employees, and through the elected employee members of the safety committee in workplaces with 10 employees or more.

 

Numbers and structure

 

The number of employee representatives in the area of health and safety increases with the number of employees at the workplace (see table).

 

Number of employees

Number of safety representatives/members of safety committee

5 to 9

1

10 to 19

2

20 to 49

3

For every 50 additional employees

1 additional representative

 

This means for example, that workplace with 250 employees would have seven employee representatives on the safety committee. There is no ceiling on the number of employee representatives, although Cyprus has very few large employers.

 

The other members of the safety committee are the employer, or his or her representative, the occupational physician (works doctor) – if there is one – and the safety officer – obligatory in companies employing 200 or more..

 

The safety committee is chaired by the employer or his or her representative.

 

Research by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2014 found that 48% of workplaces in Cyprus had health and safety representatives and 35% had a health and safety committee. The figure for safety representatives is both below the EU-28 average of 58%, but the figure for safety committees sees Cyprus scoring better than the EU-28 average, which is 21%. (The figures are for workplaces with five or more employees.)[1] 

 

Tasks and rights

 

The role of the safety representative and the safety committee is primarily consultative and advisory. The committee itself cannot take action. For example, it cannot require work to be stopped if it considers the situation to be dangerous.

 

Under the main health and safety at work legislation, employers are required to consult with employees or their representatives on “issues concerning safety and health at work”, and they should also consult them on ways of achieving effective cooperation in achieving safe and healthy workplaces. There is a specific requirement to consult employees or their representatives on the introduction of new technologies, where the health and safety consequences of choosing a particular piece of equipment and the way that working conditions may need to be adjusted as a result need to be considered.

 

More specifically the role of the safety committee includes:

  • discussing all issues related to health and safety at the workplace;
  • monitoring the implementation of legislation relating to health and safety;
  • identifying possible hazards in the workplace and investigating the reasons for these hazards; and
  • receiving complaints relating to health and safety in the workplace and making recommendations to the employer in respect of these complaints.

 

The members of the safety committee should also advise employees of potential hazards. It should promote training in health and safety and encourage cooperation on health and safety issues. Employers should also consult members of the safety committee on health and safety training programmes.

 

Where employee members of the safety committee identify potential hazards at the workplace, they should bring them to the attention of the safety committee, who should then inform the employer, making proposals to remove the hazards. If the employer fails to act the safety representatives have the right to refer the issue to the national inspectorate.

 

Members of the safety committee have the right to accompany the inspector from national inspectorate in his or her inspections of the workplace, and to be given details of what the inspectorate plans to do as a result of the inspection. The safety committee also has the right to approach the national inspectorate for advice.

 

Frequency of meetings

 

The safety committee should meet at least once every three months and more often if the employee members of the committee consider there are urgent health and safety issues which need to be discussed.

 

Election and term of office

 

Safety representatives are elected by the whole workforce. The election should be organised by the employer in cooperation with the existing safety representatives. The term of office of safety representatives and employee representatives on safety committees is three years.

 

Resources, time off and training

 

Safety representatives on safety committees should be given sufficient time to undertake their duties without loss of pay and they should also be given the “necessary means” to carry them out.

 

The employer should pay for their training.

 

Protection against dismissal

 

Safety representatives and employee representatives on safety committees should not be disadvantaged in anyway because of their activities in the area of health and safety.

Other elements of workplace health and safety

 

All employers who have more than 200 employees must appoint a full-time safety officer to deal with health and safety issues. The duties of the safety officer include among other things, inspecting the workplace, carrying out risk assessment, organising and monitoring the occupational health management system, preparing risk assessment reports and training employees on health and safety issues. The safety officer is also present at meetings of the safety committee.

 

Safety officers must have the appropriate qualifications and experience, and their appointment must be individually approved by the Chief Inspector of the Department of Labour Inspection (see below).

 

National context

 

The ministry responsible for health and safety at work is the Ministry of Labour Welfare and Social Insurance. The body responsible for monitoring compliance with health and safety laws and regulations is the Department of Labour Inspection, part of the same ministry.

 

Trade unions and employers are able to influence health and safety policy through their participation in the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council, which also includes government representatives.[2]

 

 

 

Key legislation

 

Safety and Health at Work Laws 1996 to 2011

Οι περί Ασφάλειας και Υγεία στην Εργασία Νόμοι του 1996 μέχρι 2011

The Safety Committees at Work Regulations of 1997 (P.I. 134/97)

Οι περί Επιτροπών Ασφάλειας στην Εργασία Κανονισμοί του 1997 (Κ.Δ.Π. 134/1997)

The Management of Safety and Health Issues at Work Regulations of 2002 (P.I. 173/2002)

Οι περί Διαχείρισης Θεμάτων Ασφάλειας και Υγείας στην Εργασία Κανονισμοί του 2002 (Κ.Δ.Π. 173/2002)

[1] Second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2016

[2] For more information on the national context see  OSH system at national level – Cyprus by Spyros Dontas, OSH Wiki https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/OSH_system_at_national_level_-_Cyprus

L. Fulton (2018) Health and safety representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI (online publication). Produced with the assistance of the Workers' Interest Group of the Advisory Committee for Safety and Health at Work (of the EU Commission). Online publication available at http://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Relations.