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Health and Safety Representation

Safety representatives, chosen directly by the employees in smaller organisations, and by the existing trade union structures in those with more than 15 employees, provide representation for employees in the area of health and safety in Italy. There is no structure of joint employer/employee safety committees, other than a meeting with the employer and health and safety staff once a year or when there are major changes. However, Italy does have a structure of area safety representatives who cover smaller companies without their own safety representatives.

 

Basic approach at workplace level

 

The employer is solely responsible for drawing up a risk assessment and appointing the head of risk prevention. As part of a series of responsibilities in the area of health and safety, the employer and managers working on his or her behalf are required to consult with safety representatives, representing the employees.

 

Employee health and safety bodies

 

Employee representation in the area of health and safety at work is primarily provided by safety representatives at local level, known as company safety representatives (rappresentante dei lavoratori per la sicurezza aziendale – RLS). However, there are also area safety representatives (rappresentante dei lavoratori per la sicurezza territoriale o di comparto - RSLT), covering companies without a safety representative across a specific geographical area, and site safety representatives (rappresentante dei lavoratori per la sicurezza di sito produttivo), who have a coordinating role where several companies share a single site – such as construction sites, ports and transport hubs.

 

Numbers and structure

 

There is no minimum employee threshold for the appointment of these company safety representatives, although the election procedures are different in smaller organisations (up to and including 15 employees) from those in larger organisations (see section on elections). The number of company safety representatives is fixed by collective agreement but the law also lays down minimum numbers, as follows.

 

Number of employees

 

 

Minimum number of company safety representatives in law

 

 

Up to 200

 

 

1

 

 

201 to 1,000

 

 

2

 

 

More than 1,000

 

 

3

 

The collective agreement for the energy and oil industry, signed in 2010, provides for significantly higher numbers: one company safety representatives for companies with up to 50 employees, two for those with between 51 and 100, three for those with 101 to 300, four for those with 301 to 600, five for those with 601 to 1,000 and six for those with more than 1,000 employees.

 

Area safety representatives cover companies without their own company safety representative, generally smaller companies, and the arrangements for their appointment are set out in the relevant collective agreements. The work of the area safety representatives is financed by a contribution of two hours’ pay per year per employee from companies without a company safety representative. The health and safety authorities collect these contributions and organise payment for the work of the area safety representative.

 

Site safety representatives have the task of coordinating the activities of the various company safety representatives at the site.

 

Safety representatives in companies with more than 15 employees also participate in a health and safety meeting with the employer, which should take place at least once a year.

 

Tasks and rights

 

Safety representatives should have access to the workplace in which work is undertaken. Area safety representatives, who cover several workplaces, should normally give prior notice of their intention to visit the workplace, under terms set out in the appropriate collective agreement. However, this does not apply in the case of a serious accident, when it is only necessary to advise the health and safety authorities of the intention to visit.

 

Safety representatives should be being consulted:

  • beforehand and in good time on risk assessments and measures of prevention;
  • on the appointment of staff with health and safety responsibilities and the company doctor, as well as on fire prevention, first aid and evacuation arrangements; and
  • on the organisation of the health and safety training provided to employees and safety representatives.

The company should also provide safety representatives with information and company documentation on:

  • risk assessment and measures of prevention;
  • dangerous substances;
  • machines and equipment in use;
  • work organisation and the working environment; and
  • accidents and occupational diseases.

Safety representatives should also receive information from the health and safety authorities.

 

The tasks of safety representatives include: promoting the development and implementation of measures of prevention intended to protect the health and safety of employees; make proposals on preventative actions; and advise the employer of risks encountered in the course of their activities.

 

Safety representatives can comment to the health and safety authorities when the authorities make inspections, and safety representatives can also call on the authorities if they consider that the measures of prevention and protection taken by the employer are insufficient to guarantee the safety and health of employees.

 

Safety representatives are also entitled to take part in the annual meeting on health and safety, which should be organised in all companies with more than 15 employees. The other participants are the employer, or his or her representative, the head of the company’s head and safety services and the works doctor, where there is one. This meeting should also take place if there are significant changes in the risks present in the workplace, including those resulting from the introduction of new technology.

 

At the meeting, the employer should present:

  • the company risk assessment document;
  • information on accidents, occupational diseases and health monitoring;
  • the selection criteria, technical characteristics the effectiveness of personal protective equipment; and
  • health and safety information and training programmes.

The meeting can draw up health and safety guidelines and codes of good practice.

 

Frequency of meetings

 

There is no provision for regular meetings, other than the meeting with the employer and those involved in health and safety in the company, which should take place annually.

 

Election and term of office

 

Company safety representatives in smaller companies (up to and including 15 employees) are elected directly by the employees. In larger companies (more than 15 employees) they are elected or chosen by the trade union representative structure in the company (normally the unitary trade union structure – RSU), or where this does not exist, directly by the employees themselves. The election procedures are determined by the appropriate collective agreement.

 

Collective agreements for the industry concerned also determine the procedure for the appointment of area safety representatives. Individuals elected to this position cannot combine it with other trade union duties.

 

Site safety representatives are chosen from among the company safety representatives on the site and the procedure for appointing them is also determined by the appropriate collective agreement.

 

Unless otherwise determined in a collective agreement, all safety representative elections should take place annually on the national health and safety at work day, normally in October.

 

Resources and time off

 

The legislation states that safety representatives should be given sufficient paid time off to enable them to undertake their role as well as the necessary means and space to do so, but does not specify precisely what this should be.

 

However, it does provide greater detail on the training safety representatives should receive. This should cover the basic health and safety legislation, the identification of risks, legislation on the rights of safety representatives and some information on communication techniques. Safety representatives should receive an initial 32 hours’ paid training, of which 12 should be on the risks present in the company, with a right to four hours of training per year thereafter in companies with 15 to 50 employees and eight hours in those with more than 50. Area safety representatives, who cover many different companies, are entitled to an initial 64 hours of training with eight per year thereafter. In both cases, collective agreements may extend these rights.

 

Protection against dismissal

 

Safety representatives should not be disadvantaged because of the exercise of their functions.

 

Key legislation

 

Legislative Decree 9 April 2008, n. 81 (1)

 

Implementation of Article 1 of the Law of 3 August 2007, n. 123, concerning the protection of health and safety in the workplace

 

D.Lgs. 9 aprile 2008, n. 81 (1)

 

Attuazione dell'articolo 1 della legge 3 agosto 2007, n. 123, in materia di tutela della salute e della sicurezza nei luoghi di lavoro

L. Fulton (2013) Health and Safety Representation in Europe. Labour Research Department and ETUI (online publication prepared for worker-participation.eu)