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OSH – when, how often and who to train?

The term “Occupational Health and Safety” (OHS) covers a wide range of issues and rules, from risk assessment, protective equipment, accident management to employee training.

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Many employers and employees see these areas as a necessary evil and a formality. This usually changes in the event of a serious accident, an inspection by the labour inspectorate or an employment dispute. So how do you prepare yourself so that you as an employer are not caught off guard by these events?

Employers must ensure safety not only for their employees

The Labour Code stipulates that an employer is obliged to ensure health and safety for its employees. However, the protection of life and health is so essential that it does not only apply to the employer’s own employees. If other people are present at the employer’s workplace with the employer’s knowledge, the employer must ensure their safety as well. Where there are employees of more than one employer in the same workplace, these employers are obliged to cooperate, informing each other of the risks and the measures taken. They should also enter into a written agreement with each other to this end.

How to ensure OSH in practice?

Legislation often does not tell us exactly how to ensure the safety of people in the workplace. This is not even possible, because each workplace has its own specifics and risks. Simply put, every employer should identify possible hazards in his workplace and then take measures to minimise the occurrence of occupational accidents and diseases. It is necessary to keep in mind all the areas in which the employer operates and to look for risks in relation to each individual job. It is advisable to create your own manual of what to look for in terms of safety, what to check regularly, when, how and who to train, etc.

In practice, however, for most operations there are already written documents on this topic, so it is enough to get a similar document, for example, from OSH professionals and compare it with the actual operation at the workplace and adapt it to your specific operation. It usually contains a description of the risk – i.e. what can happen (e.g. electrocution, cuts etc.), the likelihood of the risk and the severity of the consequences and the measures that can be taken. This document should become an integral part of your employer’s agenda.

Tip: The term “Occupational Health and Safety”(OHS) covers a wide range of issues and rules. Many employers and employees see these areas as a necessary evil and a formality. However, this can change in the event of a serious accident, an inspection by a labour inspectorate or an employment dispute. So how can you prepare yourself so that you as an employer are not caught off guard by these events?

Do I need a safe man?

The employer can carry out preventive activities in the form of searching for risks and defining strategies to prevent hazards himself under certain conditions (if he has a maximum of 25 employees and has the necessary knowledge), or he can hire a so-called professionally qualified person or safety engineer. The safety engineer may be an employee of the employer or may be an external consultant.

Information and training of employees

As the title suggests, in this article we will mainly focus on training as one of the ways to ensure safety. According to the Labour Code, employers are obliged to provide their employees with training on legal and other regulations to ensure OSH. What are these regulations? Training should mainly cover hygiene, technical, construction, traffic, fire protection regulations. Each employee must then be trained in the hazards that are relevant to their work and that they may come into contact with in their workplace.

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What form of training?

The training can take place in person, through an external trainer or perhaps in the form of e-learning. What is important is that the training has taken place and that the employer has a record of it.

When do I have to train employees?

  • on commencement of employment
  • when you change job title or type of work
  • when introducing new technology, production and working equipment or new working procedures,
  • in cases which have or may have a significant impact on health and safety at work (e.g. after a serious work-related accident, an accident).

In addition to the above, training should be repeated regularly. Again, the Labour Code does not stipulate how often, but requires the employer to determine when and for which positions training will be repeated, taking into account the potential risks.

Document everything honestly

As an employer, it is essential to keep diligent records to prove that you have actually trained your employees in the event of an inspection. It is ideal to have a written record of the title of the training, a brief outline, what the training covered, when it took place, how long it lasted and who attended (including employee signatures).

The employee should really understand the training

A common annoyance is when training is only formally conducted. It is not desirable for an employee to come in, sign a few papers in a hurry without reading them and rush into work. It is precisely in the case of disputes that the labour inspectorate or the court focuses on whether the training is carried out as it should be, whether the regulations are explained to the employees, whether they have time to study and understand everything. And it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure, or at least demonstrate, that all this is done. It is also the employer’s further duty to continually check that the regulations are being complied with. The employer should conduct inspections according to its OHS manual and keep documentation of how the inspections are conducted.

Do you have any questions about OHS? Are you unsure if you are following the correct procedure or are you currently facing an inspection or employment dispute? We’ll be happy to advise you, review the documentation and represent you in any dispute.

Tip: Working from home has expanded greatly over the past two years, with some workers de facto no longer returning to the office and others only occasionally being there. What is seen as a benefit for employees can be a nightmare for recruiters who are dealing with some situations for the first time. What are the obligations of the employer and employee in such cases? And what to do if an (work-related) accident occurs in the employees’ homes?

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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