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Health and Safety Representation

Elected “trusted representatives”, who then receive training in health and safety, are the key figures representing employees in the area of health and safety. They can be elected at companies with five employees or more, with more being elected at bigger workplaces. There are no joint employee/employer health and safety structures, although the trusted representatives, who are elected for three years, should participate with the employer in a range of health and safety activities.

 

Basic approach at workplace level

 

The employer has an obligation to organise a system which protects employees at work. However, part of this obligation is to consult with employees to involve them in improving employee protection.

 

Employee health and safety bodies

 

Employee representation in the area of health and safety is provided by what are known as “trusted representatives” (uzticības personas). These are specially elected individuals who receive training in health and safety and their number depends on the size of the company. Although trusted representatives should participate with the employer in a range of health and safety tasks and should take part in meetings, the legislation does not provide for joint employee/employer health and safety committees or other similar structures.

 

Numbers and structure

 

Employee trusted representatives can be elected in all companies with at least five employees. Additional trusted representatives can be elected depending on the size of the company and the nature of the risks involved, and the total number of trustees should be fixed by the employer and the employees in a collective agreement. However, the government has also issued a regulation which recommends the following employment thresholds for additional trusted representatives.

 

Number of employees

 

 

Number of trusted representatives

 

 

5 to 49

 

 

1

 

 

50 to 100

 

 

2

 

 

100 to 500

 

 

3

 

 

501 to 1,000

 

 

4

 

 

1,001 to 2,000

 

 

5

 

 

2,001 to 3,000

 

 

6

 

 

3,001 to 4,000

 

 

7

 

 

More than 4,000

 

 

12

 

Where a company has two or more trusted representatives, they should elect a main trusted representative; where there are 10 or more trusted representatives, they should set up a committee to coordinate their activities.

 

Tasks and rights

 

Employers have a general obligation to inform both employees and trusted representatives about risks and the health and safety measures being taken as well as to give them specific information on:

  • the results of risk evaluations and a list of jobs especially exposed to risks;
  • the protective equipment being used;
  • accidents at work and occupational diseases; and
  • decisions and instructions from the labour inspectorate relating to health and safety in the company.

Employers are obliged to consult with employees and trusted representatives, specifically allowing trusted representatives to participate in meetings on:

  • measures affecting the health and safety of employees;
  • the structure of health and safety protection in the company;
  • the appointment of employees with first aid, fire fighting and evacuation responsibilities;
  • relationships with other employers in the area of health and safety; and
  • health and safety training.

Trusted representatives should participate in a range of health and safety activities at the workplace including:

  • risk evaluation;
  • planning health and safety measures;
  • investigating accidents at work and occupational diseases;
  • the introduction of new production facilities and material;
  • ensuring that equipment is health and safety compliant; and
  • cooperating with the employer and health and safety specialist in improving working conditions in the company.

They also have a series of specific rights. These include the right:

  • to express their own and the employees’ opinions on health and safety in the company;
  • to receive from the employer the information they need to carry out their duties relating to health and safety in the company;
  • to access workplaces in line with company procedures;
  • to propose that the employer measures the levels of risk if employees have made complaints;
  • to propose a re-evaluation of health and safety risks, where there has been an accident or a serious and imminent threat to employees’ life and health;
  • to request that the employer takes measures to prevent or reduce risks;
  • to propose that the employer should reach health and safety agreements with the employees or should negotiate a collective agreement on the issue; and
  • to participate with the labour inspectorate in workplace inspections.

Where there is also a main trusted representative (when there are two trusted representatives or more) they have the right to coordinate and monitor the activities of the others.

 

Frequency of meetings

 

There is nothing in the legislation stating how frequently trusted representatives should meet the employer or how often they themselves should meet.

 

Election and term of office

 

Trusted representatives are elected by simple majority at a meeting of all the company’s employees. The main trusted representative is elected by all the trusted representatives.

 

The term of office for both trusted representatives and the main trusted representative is three years.

 

Resources and time off

 

The employer should provide trusted representatives with the time off necessary for them to undertake their duties. A government regulation recommends the following time-off provision, linked to the number of employees.

 

Number of employees

 

 

Total number of hours of time off per week

 

 

5 to 49

 

 

2

 

 

50 to 100

 

 

4

 

 

100 to 500

 

 

8

 

 

501 to 1,000

 

 

16

 

 

1,001 to 2,000

 

 

32

 

 

2,001 to 3,000

 

 

48

 

 

3,001 to 4,000

 

 

56

 

 

More than 4,000

 

 

64

 

In addition trusted representatives should receive a total of 50 hours of training for their role, which should start within one month of their election. The training should be undertaken during working hours and the employer should cover the entire cost.

 

Protection against dismissal

 

A trusted representative must not suffer any unfavourable consequences as a result of his own her position. The employer can only dismiss a trusted representative with the consent of the labour inspectorate.

 

Key legislation

 

Labour Protection Act (20 June 2001) and subsequently amended

 

Regulation No. 427: The method of election of trusted representatives (17 September 2002) and subsequently amended

 

17.09.2002 Noteikumi nr. 427Darba aizsardzības likums 2001.gada 20.jūnijā

 

Uzticības personu ievēlēšanas un darbības kārtība

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