Employee Health and Safety Insurance (Seguro de prevención de riesgos laborales) is one of those regulations that many business owners are not aware of and/or have not been made aware of by their advisors but it is another way you can be tripped up as a business owner if you are not careful or aware of the risks.
Basically, this insurance covers the health and safety of employees in the work place by means of identifying, evaluating and controlling the dangers and risks associated with the work environment as well as developing techniques and necessary measures in order to prevent risks from arising in the first place. Employee safety is a paramount issue for Social Security which means it has to rank high on your list of priorities too if you do not wish to fall foul of fines and penalties.
Risks are the possibility of an employee suffering a work related accident but the law that governs this aspect of labour is nothing new and dates back to Law 31/1995, 8th November so it has actually been around for the last 21 years, even though it has been updated since. For example, Real Decree 1299/2006 lists professional illnesses that can be caused by psychiatric, physical, chemical, geographical circumstances etc. Work related accidents are caused by human error or similar, that may occur during working hours as well as those accidents that may take place too and from work. Current law is based on employee rights and establishing safe environments for them to carry out their work which means it is up to the employer to ensure said safety in the workplace. This said, the employer has the obligation to:
- Adopt the necessary measures to protect employees
- Advise and train employees
- Act in the event of an emergency and of serious and imminent risk
- Watch over their employees’ health
- Set up an organization and the necessary measures to prevent risks in the workplace
The normal procedure to adapt the company to health and safety regulations is to contract the services of a specialized company that will evaluate the workplace, tasks, machinery and equipment used and determine what measures are fundamental in your case. This is the same for office workers for example; even though no heavy machinery is involved, health and safety measures will also include matters such as quality computer screens so as not to damage eyesight, good quality chairs (a good bulk of the day is spent in these chairs so they must not be a source of discomfort) etc. The “Prevention” company will draw up a Plan for your company that you and your employees must strictly follow.
What services are included? Generally speaking, these would include:
- Development and advisory services regarding the implementation of the Prevention Plan and follow-up evaluations
- Establish an Annual Program for Prevention Services and an Annual Report of the activities that have been carried out
- Draft an initial risk assessment that will be revised and updated
- Draft emergency measures in line with article 20 of the 1995 Law
- Meetings with employees regarding safety in the workplace
- Employee training
- How to maintain Prevention Records
- Analysis of work-related incidents and accidents and an investigation of the same
- Legal services in the event of fines and penalties
- Advisory services and personal presence before judicial committees
- In most cases, an annual medical check is included
It is up to Work Inspection and Social Security to enforce fulfilment of health and safety measures in the workplace and they will carry out random checks to ensure business owners comply. It is also their duty to advise business owners as well as their employees of its importance and to advise the Labour Authority in the event of fatal or serious incidents that may occur.
As you can well imagine, non-fulfilment of this regulation incurs hefty fines that were modified in the year 2000:
- Mild offense: 40 – 2.045 euros
- Serious offense: 2.046 – 40.985 euros
- Very serious offense: 40.986 – 819.780 euros
If you have not contracted Health and Safety Insurance, I would strongly recommend seeking advice from your Gestor so this can be implemented asap, those fines are no laughing matter.