December 6, 2022

Frequent questions and Answers for Health and Safety at Work

The legislation on workers’ health and safety can be found at the site of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs under the field on workers’ health and safety as well as in books issued by the Directorate for Occupational Health and Safety of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity (29 Stadiou Str., Athens,  e-mail: asfaleiaygeia@ypakp.gr). Moreover, the relevant legislation can also be found at the following website: http://osha.europa.eu under the field “Legislation” and at the ΕLΙΝΥΑΕ Organisation (www.elinyae.gr, 146 Liossion & Thirsiou Str., Tel. 210 8200100).

The general provisions on occupational health and safety are included in the Code of laws on health and safety at work (ΚΝΥΑΕ), as ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84) which transposes, inter alia, Framework – Directive 89/391/EEC on health and safety at work into our national legislation. In addition to the above, there are all the presidential decrees that bring our national legislation in line with community law and include specific regulations (special risk factors, categories of workers, works, etc).

According to the legislation in force, all enterprises that employ at least one worker must have a safety technician (article 8 of the Code of laws on workers’ health and safety which was ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010, O.G. Α’ 84).

Enterprises with more than 50 workers or enterprises with at least one worker in works related to exposure to lead, asbestos, biological agents or carcinogens (P.D. 94/87, P.D. 70α/88, P.D.186/95, P.D. 399/94) must have a labour physician.

According to article 10 of the Code of laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84), in order to define the working hours of a safety technician and a labour physician, and the required qualifications of the safety technician, the enterprises, undertakings and works are classified into three main categories (Α, Β and C), the activity sectors of which are given a code number based on the statistical classification by the Hellenic Statistical Authority for the year 1980 (NACE 1980).

Based on the enterprise’s classification, the provisions of article 21 Code of laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84), specify the rates that shall be multiplied by the number of workers in order to calculate the minimum annual working hours of a safety technician and a labour physician, for each one of enterprise categories. Such working hours shall be distributed per month, following an agreement between the employer and the Health and Safety Committee for Workers (where it exists).

In no case shall these hours be less than 25 for enterprises employing up to 20 workers, 50 for enterprises employing from 20 up to 50 workers and 75 for enterprises employing more than 50 workers.

The qualifications of a safety technician are described in article 11 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84). Based on the above a safety technician must be a holder of:

a) a diploma by domestic Polytechnic faculty or equivalent foreign faculties, with fields of study related to facilities, production process, as well as license to practice the occupation, granted by the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE).

b) a diploma by domestic University or equivalent foreign faculties, with fields of study related to facilities, production process as well as license to practice the occupation, if provided by the legislation in force.

c) a diploma by domestic technological educational institution or equivalent foreign faculties or the former schools of technical engineers and KATEE.

d) a degree by Domestic technical Lyceum or technical school or of other recognized technical occupational school, or of equivalent foreign schools or an expert’s license.

They must have at least two years experience, gained after the date of their degree or diploma, for technicians referred to in  paragraph 1 (a) and (b) of this article, or at least five years of experience for technicians referred to in paragraph 1(c) and at least eight years of experience for technicians referred to in paragraph 1(d). Less years of experience are required if the safety technician has undergone training (article 8, para.5 of the code of laws on health and safety at work (Κ.Ν.Υ.Α.Ε.) ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010, O.G. Α’ 84)

Holders of safety technician diplomas or certificates from abroad are also considered as persons with the above mentioned qualifications.

Article 13 of the Κ.Ν.Υ.Α.Ε. presents in detail all the required safety technician specialties depending on enterprise activity.

According to article 12 of the Κ.Ν.Υ.Α.Ε., in enterprises with C and B category accounting books, employing up to 50 workers, the employers themselves and/or workers are allowed to undertake the responsibilities of a safety technician, depending on specific conditions and following adequate training.

The qualifications of a labour physician are described in article 16 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84).

The following can exercise the duties of a labour physician:

a) Doctors specialized in occupational medicine

b) Doctors with any specialty, except Occupational Medicine, who have carried out the tasks of labour physician in enterprises before 15.05.2009

c) Doctors with any specialty who have carried out the tasks of labour physician in enterprises for at least seven (7) years up to 15.05.2009.

The duties of a safety technician are described in article 14 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84). The following make part of his advisory role toward the employers:

  1. The safety technician recommends and advises the employer, in writing or orally, on issues relating to health and safety at work and the prevention of occupational accidents. His written recommendations are recorded in a special book kept at the enterprise which is stamped by the labour inspectorate. The employer must sign on that book to show that he has become aware of recommendations recorded in it.

  2. More specifically the safety technician shall:
    a)advise on issues relating to the planning, scheduling, construction and maintenance of facilities, the introduction of new production processes, the procurement of means and equipment, selection of and monitoring the effectiveness of personal protective equipment as well as workstation layout and workplace accommodation and the organization of production process in general.
    b)check the safety of facilities and technical means, before their operation and of production processes and work methods, before their application, and supervise the implementation of health and safety measures at work and accident prevention measures, informing accordingly the competent heads of departments or the company management.

  3. For the surveillance of working conditions, the safety technician must:
    a)regularly carry out inspections with regard to health and safety at work, report to the employer any omissions with regard to health and safety measures, propose measures to be taken and supervise their implementation.
    b)supervise the correct use of personal protective equipment.
    c)investigate the causes of occupational accidents, analyze and evaluate the results of investigations, and propose measures to prevent similar accidents.
    d)supervise the conduct of fire safety training and be ready to response to accidents.

  4. For the improvement of working conditions in the enterprise the safety technician must:
    a)ensure that the workers of the enterprise comply with the health and safety at work regulations, inform and guide them on how to prevent the occupational risks related to their jobs.
    b)participate in the preparation and implementation of workers’ training on health and safety at work issues.

  5. The functions of a safety technician may be supplemented by other duties too assigned by the employer beyond the minimum working hours that he is required to work as safety technician.

  6. The safety technician exercises his duties in a morally independent manner with regard to the employer and the workers. Any disagreement with the employer on issues relating to his responsibilities may not constitute grounds for termination of his contract of employment. In any case the dismissal of a safety technician must be justified.

  7. The safety technician must ensure enterprise confidentiality.

The responsibilities of a labour physician are described in article 17 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law  3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84). The following make part of his advisory role toward the employers, including workers’ health surveillance:

  1. The labour physician provides the employer, the workers and their representatives with suggestions and advice, in writing or orally, on the measures to be taken for the physical and mental health of workers. Such written recommendations are recorded by the labour physician in the special book under article 6 of this law. The employer must sign on that book to show that he has become aware of recommendations recorded in it.
  2. In particular the labour physician shall advise on issues relating to:
    a)design, planning, modification of production process, construction and maintenance of facilities, in accordance with rules of occupational health and safety
    b)protection measures, during the import and use of materials and supply of equipment
    c)physiology and psychology of work, ergonomics and hygiene of work, workstation layout and workplace accommodation and organization of production process
    d)organization of a first aid service
    e)initial placement and change of workstation due to health reasons, temporarily or permanently, as well as integration and reintegration of disadvantaged persons into the production process, even by recommending workstation reform
    f)the labour physician may not be used to verify the justified or non-justified absence of a worker due to an illness.

  3. For the surveillance of workers’ health, the labour physician must:
    a)check the medical condition of workers in relation to their job, after their recruitment or in relation to any change of jobs, and perform medical examinations at regular intervals, according to the judgment of a labour inspector, following a request by the workers’ health and safety committee, when it is not stipulated by the law. He ensures the conduct of medical exams and the calculation of factors related to the working environment, in accordance with the provisions each time in force. He assesses the fitness of workers for a specific job, evaluates and records the results of the exams, certifies the aforementioned assessments and notifies the employer. The content of such a certificate must respect the medical confidentiality of the worker and it may be checked by the health inspectors of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs ensuring thus the protection of the worker and the employer.
    b)supervise the implementation of measures for workers’ health protection and accident prevention. To this end, he:
    i. regularly supervises workstations and reports any omissions, proposes measures to tackle with such omissions and supervises their implementation
    ii. explains the necessity of correct use of personal protective equipment
    iii. investigates the causes of illnesses associated with the job, analyzes and assesses the results of his investigations and proposes measures for the prevention of such illnesses
    iv. supervises compliance of workers with occupational health and safety rules,  informs workers on the risks associated with their jobs and also on means of prevention
    v. provides emergency treatment in case of an accident or sudden illness. Vaccinates workers following instructions of the competent health directorate of the region where the enterprise is located.

    c)respect medical and enterprise confidentiality.
    d)notify the labour inspectorate about workers’ illnesses associated with their job.
    e) be informed by the employer and the workers on any factor in the workplace that affects workers’ health.
    f)The surveillance of workers’ health may not incur any financial burden on them and must take place during their working hours.
    g)The labour physician exercises his duties in a morally independent manner with regard to the employer and the workers. Any disagreement with the employer on issues relating to his responsibilities may not constitute grounds for termination of his contract of employment. In any case the dismissal of a labour physician must be justified.

The safety technician and the labour physician must cooperate (article 20, Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 O.G. Α’ 84) by conducting joint inspections. They also have to cooperate with workers’ representatives or the workers’ health and safety committee (Ε.Υ.Α.Ε.) and inform them on every important issue relating to occupational health and safety in the enterprise while giving them suitable advice. The employer has to cooperate with all the above.

The employer may opt to assign the tasks of safety technician and/or labour physician either a) to certain workers of his enterprise or b) to persons not belonging to the enterprise or c) by concluding a contract with External Protection and Prevention Services, in accordance with article 23 Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 or d) a combination of the above.

According to articles 10, 11, 13, 22 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84):

  1. In enterprises with C category accounting books that employ less than 50 workers, the employer himself may undertake the responsibilities of the safety technician for his enterprise, provided that he is trained adequately, in accordance with article 22.

  2. In enterprises with B and C category accounting books that employ less than 50 workers, the employer himself may undertake the responsibilities of the safety technician for his enterprise, provided that he has the qualifications described in article 11, para.1 cases a or b or c and one of the safety technician’s specialties provided for the enterprise’s activity sector, under article 13.

  3. In enterprises with B category accounting books that employ less than 20 workers, if the employer has the qualifications described under article 11, para.1 cases a΄ or b΄ or c΄ and one of the safety technician’s specialties that are not provided for the enterprise’s activity sector, under article 13, the employer himself may undertake the responsibilities of the safety technician for his enterprise, provided that he has received appropriate training of at least 35 hours duration, in accordance with article 22.

  4. In enterprises with B category accounting books, under article 10, that employ up to 6 workers, the employer himself may undertake the responsibilities of the safety technician for his enterprise, provided that he has received appropriate training of at least 35 hours duration, in accordance with article 22, on condition that he holds a technical specialty degree by a Technical vocational school or Vocational Training Institute or other recognized technical vocational school and his training field is related to the activities of his enterprise.

  5. In enterprises with B category accounting books that employ up to 3 workers, the employer himself may undertake the responsibilities of the safety technician for his enterprise, provided that he has received appropriate training of at least 35 hours duration, in accordance with article22 and on condition that he has an expert’s license related to the activities of his enterprise and he can prove that for more than one decade he is engaged in this economic activity.

All enterprises under article 43 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84). The same article specifies its content. The employer is responsible for its preparation by the safety technician and the labour physician, in accordance with the provisions in force.

The employer (Principle of the responsibility of the employer). All other services play an advisory role in order to facilitate his work. Even if he makes use of safety technician and labour physician services, he as full liability to ensure workers’ health and safety in every aspect related to the work and to take all the required measures that ensure health and safety (article 42 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 O.G. Α’ 84).

According to article 49 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law  3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84),  it shall be the responsibility of each worker to take care as far as possible of his own safety and health and that of other persons affected by his acts or omissions at work in accordance with his training and the instructions given by his employer. To this end, workers must in particular, in accordance with their training and the instructions given by their employer:

a) make correct use of machinery, apparatus, tools, dangerous substances, transport equipment and other means of production.

b) make correct use of the personal protective equipment supplied to them and, after use, return it to its proper place.

c) refrain from disconnecting, changing or removing arbitrarily safety devices fitted, e.g. to machinery, apparatus, tools, plant and buildings, and use such safety devices correctly.

d) immediately inform the employer and/or the safety technician and the labour physician of any work situation they have reasonable grounds for considering represents a serious and immediate danger to safety and health and of any shortcomings in the protection arrangements.

e) cooperate with the employer and/or the safety technician and the labour physician, for as long as may be necessary, to enable any tasks or requirements imposed by the competent labour inspection authority to protect the safety and health of workers at work to be carried out.

f) cooperate with the employer and/or the safety technician and the labour physician, for as long as may be necessary, to enable the employer to ensure that the working environment and working conditions are safe and pose no risk to safety and health within their field of activity.

Employers need to attend relevant seminars or other training on issues relating to health and safety at work.

Yes, all occupational accidents must be reported within 24 hours. If it is a serious injury or death, the employer must keep unchanged all information that may be used for the identification of the accident’s causes (article 43 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 O.G. Α’ 84).

The competent Health and Safety Labour Inspection authorities, the closest police authorities and the competent insurance authorities the worker is insured with (article 43 of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 (O.G. Α’ 84).

Yes, certain provisions (article 50 to 67) of the Code of Laws on health and safety at work, ratified by article 1 of Law 3850/2010 O.G. Α’ 84) apply to all forms of employment and self-employment of minors. Persons who have not reached the age of 18 are considered to be minors. Measures on the protection of minors are also included in P.D. 62/1998 «Measures on the protection of young people at work, in compliance with Directive 94/33/ΕC» and in Ministerial Decision No.130621/2003 on «Works and activities where the employment of minors is prohibited».

Yes, there are provisions on the protection of pregnant workers. More specifically, there is P.D. No.176/1997 «Measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding in compliance with Directive 92/85/ΕEC» as amended by P.D. 41/2003.

Skip to content