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Italian health and safety laws for assignments abroad

According to Italian law, employers are obliged to guarantee employees’ health and safety, even in the case of foreign assignments.

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Among the obligations provided by Italian law, employers must guarantee employees’ safety at work, both when working on the Italian territory and when working abroad.

Thus, based on the concept of duty of care, employers must comply with Italian health and safety laws even when dealing with travel risk management for assignments abroad.

When safety on workplace is mandatory?

In accordance with Italian law, practice and jurisprudence, employers have specific obligations in order to ensure the safety of their employees. Therefore, a company is called upon to safeguard their employees’ well-being and health when it has one employee, including trainees, project workers and students employed occupied school work activities.

Not only do these obligations apply when performing work on a daily basis, thus at the usual place of work, but they are equally relevant, if not even more imperative, when it comes to business travel abroad.

When posting personnel abroad, whether for a short or a longer period, employers are obliged to comply with certain special requirements in accordance with Italian regulations on workers’ health and safety.

Hence, workplace safety emerges as an increasingly important topic that is impossible to ignore nowadays, also due to the numerous accidents that have been recorded recently in workplaces.

European health and safety laws

Directive 89/391 and risk assessment

In terms of European legislation, Directive 89/391 has made some innovations regarding safety in the working environment, establishing the need for an equal level of health for all workers. Such standards must be compulsorily guaranteed by the employer.

The directive also introduced the principle of risk assessment, specifying what its main elements are (e.g., the identification of such risks and the documentation and periodic reassessment of them).

Directive 96/71 on the posting of workers

Mention can also be made to Directive 96/71/EC. It provides a list of working conditions that must be granted to workers temporarily posted abroad, so as to ensure a level playing field for service providers.

Regulation 593/2008 on contractual obigations for assignments abroad

Finally, it is important to mention Regulation 593/2008, which governs the identification of the law applicable to contractual obligations. It is a relevant text in the legislation regulating business transfers abroad, because it establishes a set of binding rules of private international law for contractual and non-contractual obligations in civil and commercial matters.

Italian health and safety laws: who is in charge of workers’ safety?

Italian legislation defines that the person who is in charge of workers’ safety is whoever holds the employment relationship or who, according to the type of organization, is responsibile for the organization itself and the workers for decision-making powers.

Figures involved in workers’ safety

Notably, Legislative Decree 81/08 (Safety Consolidation Act) identifies a number of key figures involved in the process of ensuring safety in the workplace:

  • Employees;
  • Employers;
  • Managers;
  • The person in charge (i.e., “one who supervises the work activity and ensures the implementation of the directives received, monitoring their proper execution by workers and exercising functional power of initiative”);
  • The head and person responsible for the prevention and protection service (i.e., personalities designated by the employer, who coordinate and assist the risk prevention and protection service);
  • The expert doctor;
  • The head of workers’ safety.

The mandatory obligations of the employer, who is designated as the person with the greatest responsibility, are the assessment of all risks and the preparation of a document that makes them explicit (the Risk Assessment Document). Such document should specify the criteria adopted for risk identification, as well as the nomination of the person in charge of the risk prevention and protection service.

Other obligations that need to be fulfilled to ensure safety at work can be delegated, according to Legislative Decree 81/08, by the employer to other figures among those listed above.

Let us now take a look at the relevant obligations.

Italian health and safety laws

The Italian Civil Code on health and safety

Within the framework of Italian legislation on workers’ health and safety, we have to mention Article 2087 of the Italian Civil Code. The Civil Code, in fact, requires that the entrepreneur is obliged to take any measure necessary to protect the physical integrity and moral personality of workers.

In addition, again within the Civil Code, Article 2043, specifies that in case of damages, the responsible party is obliged to compensate the injured party: this case also applies to the work and business travel context.

Legislative Decree 81/08

The aforementioned Legislative Decree No. 81 (Consolidated Safety Act) was approved on April 9, 2008, and came into force on May 15 of the same year. It is the main legislative reference on workplace safety and employer obligations.

The main objective of the text is to ensure and guarantee an adequate level of safety in the workplace. It should be noted that this legislative decree applies to any sector of activity, thus companies, entities (public and private), public administration and any type of risk.

What are the underlying principles of the Legislative Decree 81/08?

The decree 81/2008 establishes the obligation for employers to train and inform their employees about risks and safety management in the workplace. In fact, it is imperative for workers to be aware of the risks they may face. Employers are obliged to assess the risks associated with planned activities, regardless of the number of workers employed.

In 2015, Legislative Decree 151/2015 was approved, supplementing the 2008 decree with additional provisions, especially on the penalty aspect.

What are the main obligations according to Legislative Decree 81/08?

According to the provisions of the Safety Consolidated Act, the employer and the manager (another figure who should take most of the responsability with the employer) must mainly take the following general protective measures, which can be delegated to other company figures:

  • Risk assessment;
  • Prevention strategies;
  • Elimination and/or reduction of risks;
  • The organization of work according to ergonomic principles;
  • The limited use of chemical, physical and biological agents;
  • Health control;
  • The appropriate information and training of workers, managers and supervisors with special attention to that of workers’ safety representatives;
  • the emergency measures to be implemented in case of first aid and firefighting;
  • the use of warning signs;
  • The information of workers exposed to risk in case of serious and immediate danger;
  • The refraining from requiring workers to resume their activities in a work situation where serious and immediate danger persists;
  • The updating of prevention measures in relation to any changes.

Who must comply with the procedures indicated in Legislative Decree 81/08?

However, not only these two managerial figures will observe safety obligations: the supervisor, worker, company doctor and all other figures will also have to comply with ad hoc constraints regulated by the legislative decree.

Further, the decree specifies that these obligations apply to all business sectors, public and private, and include all types of risk. All documentation related to the assessment and treatment of risk will then have to be properly kept, so that the process can be tracked in a transparent and clear manner.

Risk Assessment by Studio A&P

Studio A&P’s Risk Assessment service was created precisely with this regulatory framework in mind, to help companies and employers meet their obligations regarding worker safety when traveling abroad. Moreover, the service is compliant with ISO 31030 guidelines on travel security.

Through the AtlasPosting software, it will be possible to identify and monitor all possible types of risk specific to the country of destination. The Geopolitical Reports prepared by the team are meant to be protective documents for company managers and workers. In addition, the software will allow to maintain a record of all documentation and actions taken to mitigate the risk, as required by regulations.

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Regulatory Framework

Law Decree of April 9, 2008 n.81


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