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Health and Safety Representation

Romania has a system of specially elected health and safety representatives, who should be present in all organisations with at least 10 employees. In larger organisations (50 or more employees) a joint health and safety committee should be established. This has a wide range of duties, although the employer is not obliged to accept its decisions.

Basic approach at workplace level

 

The employer is obliged to ensure the safety and health of workers in all aspects of their employment and any obligations imposed on workers do not affect the basic principle.

 

Employee health and safety bodies

 

Employee representation in the area of health and safety is provided by specially elected health and safety representatives – literally workers’ representatives with specific responsibility for safety and health at work (reprezentantii lucratorilor cu raspunderi specifice in domeniul securitatii si sanatatii in munca). In organisations with 50 or more employees, these representatives are members of a joint employee/employer health and safety committee (Comitetul de securitate si sanatate in munca), which has a wide range of duties.

 

Numbers and structure

 

Health and safety representatives should be elected in all organisations employing at least 10 people, and the number increases with the size of the workforce (see table).

 

Number of employees

Number of health and safety representatives

10 to 49

1

50 to 100

2

101 to 500

3

501 to 1,000

4

1,000 to 2,000

5

2,001 to 3,000

6

3,001 to 4,000

7

More than 4,000

8

 

These are minimum figures, set out in the government decision implementing the main legislation. Collective agreements can provide for higher numbers.

 

In organisations with 50 or more employees a joint health and safety committee should also be established. It may also be necessary to set up a health and safety committee in smaller organisations, if the labour inspector thinks that this is justified, given the nature of the risks involved. The employee members of the health and safety committee are the elected health and safety representatives, although where a health and safety committee is set up in organisations with fewer than 50 employees, there are two employee representatives. The other members of the committee are the employer or a representative of the employer, management representatives with specific health and safety responsibilities and the occupational physician, where present (see below).

 

There should be an equal number of employee and employer members, but the committee should be chaired by the employer or the employer’s representative. If the organisation uses an external health and safety service (see below) its representatives will be invited to attend, and the labour inspector can also be present. Notification is sent out in advance and the minutes of the meeting are sent to the labour inspectorate as well being displayed at the workplace. Decisions are taken on the basis of a two thirds majority.

 

Research by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2014 found that 78% of workplaces in Romania had health and safety representatives and 30% had a health and safety committee. These figures are both well above the EU-28 averages, which are 58% for health and safety representatives and 21% for health and safety committees. (The results relate to workplaces with five or more employees.)[1]

 

Tasks and rights

 

There is a general obligation on employers to inform and consult with workers and/or their representatives on health and safety issues.

 

In addition, health and safety representatives have specific responsibilities to:

  • work with the employers to improve health and safety conditions at work;
  • accompany the individual or individuals carrying out risk assessment;
  • help workers become aware of the need to implement health and safety measures at work;
  • notify the employer or health and safety committee about any proposals to improve working conditions;
  • monitor the implementation of the plan to prevent and protect against risks;
  • inform the competent authorities if legal health and safety provisions are not complied with.

 

Health and safety representatives also have the right to ask the employer to take appropriate measures to reduce risks and eliminate hazards and they can appeal to appropriate authorities if they feel that the employer has not done enough to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. They can also make representations to the labour inspectorate during inspections.

 

The tasks to be undertaken by the health and safety committee are more detailed. It should:

  • analyse and make proposals on health and safety policy, and the organisation’s plan for the prevention of and the protection against risks;
  • monitor compliance with this plan, and ensure that sufficient resources are available to carry it out;
  • assess the health and safety implications of the introduction of new technology and make proposals on how any resulting problems should be resolved;
  • assess the choice, maintenance and use of equipment, and of collective and personal protective equipment;
  • evaluate the work of any external agency providing health and safety services and advise whether the services should be retained or dispensed with;
  • make proposals on work organisation, taking account of the position of particularly vulnerable groups;
  • assess complaints received from employees on their working conditions, and the provision of health and safety services, whether provided externally or internally;
  • monitor whether health and safety law and instructions from the labour inspectors are being complied with;
  • examine employees’ proposals for improving health and safety;
  • investigate accidents at work and occupational diseases, and propose measures to deal with them;
  • ensure that its own instructions are being complied with, and make a written report on this;
  • discuss the written report on health and safety which the employer should provide at least once a year (see below).

 

As indicated above, the employer must present an annual report to the health and safety committee setting out the overall health and safety situation, as well as a plan for prevention and protection in the following year. As well as going to the health and safety committee, this should also be sent to the labour inspectorate. The employer must also inform the committee about measures relating to first aid, fire fighting and evacuation.

 

Where the employer chooses not to accept the proposals of the health and safety committee, he or she must justify this refusal and the justification must be noted in the minutes of the meeting.

 

Frequency of meetings

 

The health and safety committee should meet at least once every three months, and more frequently if necessary.

 

Election and term of office

 

Health and safety representatives are elected by the employees according to procedures laid down by collective agreement. The term of office is normally two years.

 

Resources, time off and training

 

Members of the health and safety committee are entitled to paid time off. For health and safety committee members the amount is laid down by law and rises with the size of the workforce (see table). These figures are for each health and safety representative.

 

Number of employees

Paid time off for each health and safety representative

Up to 99

2 hours a month

100 to 299

5 hours a month

300 to 499

10 hours a month

500 to 1,499

15 hours a month

1,500 and more

20 hours a month

 

The employer must also provide them with the resources to carry out their work.

 

In addition, each health and safety representative is entitled to 40 hours’ training when first elected.

 

Protection against dismissal

 

Health and safety representatives have protection against dismissal.

 

Other elements of workplace health and safety

 

Depending on the size of the organisation and the nature of its activities employers can comply with their health and safety obligations in one of four ways: they can take on the work themselves; they can designate one of more employees to deal with the health and safety tasks; they can set up an internal health and safety service; or they can use an external health and safety service.

 

In small organisations, those with fewer than 10 employees, which do not operate in highly risky industries, such as the manufacture of explosives or work with radioactive substances, the employer can take on the health and safety tasks, provided that he or she has had at least 40 hours training. This also applies in larger organisations – with 10 to 49 employees – provided that these are in industries where there is no risk of accidents or disease causing death or disability. For these smaller companies, it is also possible for health and safety tasks to be outsourced to an external provider.

 

In the case of organisations with 50 to 249 employees, the employer can either designate one or more employees to carry out the health and safety tasks or set up an internal health and safety service. In the case of organisations with 250 or more employees, as well as all organisations operating in activities of high risk, the employer must set up an internal health and safety service. Designated health and safety workers must have had at least 80 hours of training, as must those working in the internal health and safety service (more for the person in charge).

 

In all cases the employer must use an external health and safety service if internal employees do not have the skills or capacity to carry out the necessary health and safety tasks.  

 

National context

 

The ministry responsible for health and safety at work is the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice (Ministerul Muncii și Justiției Sociale). Compliance with Romania’s health and safety laws and regulations is ensured by the Labour Inspectorate (Inspecția muncii), an administrative body subordinate to the Ministry of Labour and Social Justice. The Labour Inspectorate also enforces laws relating to general labour rights and access to the labour market.

 

Trade unions and employers are able to influence health and safety policy through their membership of the National Tripartite Council for Social Dialogue (Consiliul Național Tripartit pentru Dialog Social), which has a wide economic and social remit but can discuss health and safety issues. The presidents of the five national representative trade union confederations are members of the National Tripartite Council, which is chaired by the prime minister.[2]

 

Key legislation

 

Law No. 319, 14 July 2006 – Law on Safety and Health at Work

Government decision 1425/2006

Government decision 955/2010

 

Legea nr. 319 din 14 iulie 2006 - Legea securităţii şi sănătăţii în muncă

Hotararea de Guvern 1425 din 2006

Hotararea de Guvern 955 din 2010

[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 – Romania by Ioana - Georgiana Nicolescu and, Alina Trifu, OSH Wiki

https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/OSH_systems_at_national_level_-_Romania

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.