On August 24, 2016, the Ministry of the People’s Power for the Social Process of Work published: (i) Resolution N° 9.588 concerning the Technical Standard for Safety & Health at Work (Technical Standard); and (ii) Resolution No. 9589 concerning the Technical Standard for the control of handling, lifting and manually transporting loads (the Resolution). Both standards were set forth in the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela No. 40.973 of August 24, 2016. Here are the most significant aspects of both decrees:
Technical Standard for the Services of Safety & Health at Work
The purpose of the Technical Standard is to establish guidelines that employers must follow for the organization, establishment, registration and operation of the Service of Safety and Health at Work (SSH), in order to fulfill the purpose and functions of the SSH established in the Organic Law on Prevention, Conditions and Working Environment (OLPCWE)1.
Scope of application:
The provisions established in the Technical Standard are applicable to all employers, cooperatives and other community associative forms of productive character or service, profit or non-profit, regardless of their nature, location, or public or private character.
Provision of information:
Different departments of the employer, including human resources, are required to provide the SSH with information on issues related to the health and safety of the employees.
Also, when the SSH takes measures to be adopted by the employer they must notify the prevention delegates, the employer and the employees in writing of such measures.
The employer must implement an SSH measure within a period not exceeding 15 working days, except in the case of situations that threaten the personal integrity, life or human rights of the employees, in which case the implementation must be immediate.
The employer may hire independent professionals to carry out activities in the areas of workplace hygiene, safety and health, but these professionals will not be considered part of the SSH.
Types of SSH:
The Technical Standard organizes the SSH by private and joint committees.
The private SSH should be understood as an organizational structure of the employer dedicated exclusively to said employer, that monitors and promotes workplace safety, health, and work conditions. Employers should have an SSH of their own in each workplace or in its vicinity if they have more than 250 employees or if they have between 50 and 250 employees and are involved in any of the activities referred to in Article 13 of the Technical Standard. The joint SSH is defined as the organizational structures made up of up to 20 different employers who agree to create a joint SSH, and are considered as services of the employers that comprise it. Employers must express in writing their willingness to form a joint SSH, and incorporate the requirements and documents set out in Article 20 of the Technical Standard.
Employers must have a joint SSH committee in each workplace or in its vicinity if they have fewer than 50 employees or if they have between 50 and 250 employees and do not carry out any activities that warrant having their own SSH committee.
In both cases, the formation of the SSH will be determined by the number of employees that conform each employers payroll and each SSH must have at least i) an occupational physician; (ii) a nurse; (iii) an industrial engineer, industrial safety engineer, industrial safety technician, disaster management technician, industrial manager or professional with related experience.
The joint SSH committee may be:
i. Type I: when the group of employers hires professionals in the various required disciplines and creates the structure of the SSH for every workplace.
ii. Type II: when the group of employers hires a company who will be the provider of the service for the formation of SSH for every workplace.
Employers must register with the National Registry of Services of Safety & Health at Work in accordance with Article 29 of the Partial Regulations of the Organic Law on Prevention, Conditions and Working Environment (PROLPCWE)2.
Medical exams and forbidden health screenings:
The SSH should perform medical exams for its employees, regularly and in accordance with the provisions of the Technical Standard and PROLPCWE,3 at the beginning of the employment relationship, at its termination, before and after vacations and any other special health evaluations. The occupational physician must prepare a medical report following the requirements set forth in Article 33 of the Technical Standard.
In the case of pre-vacation health exams, these must be carried out during a period not exceeding 15 working days prior to the vacation period, and post-vacation health exams during a period not exceeding 15 working days following the employee’s return. In both cases the physical assessment should include assessment of functional status of the joints, for which the physician should use the goniometry as the method of evaluation.
The results of the pre-admission exams and termination exams must be given to the employee within a period no longer than 24 hours after completion, and must indicate their suitability for taking the job, in the case of pre-admission exam, and any change in the health status in the case of termination exams.
Forbidden health screenings:
The SSH must not perform the following tests without the consent of the employee:
i. Pregnancy tests.
ii. Nuclear magnetic resonance.
iii. Testing antibodies against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
iv. Those seeking to undermine the individual and collective rights of workers.
Validity and obligation of application:
The Technical Standard will be effective from the time of its publication in the Official Gazette, specifically from August 24, 2016.
Notwithstanding this, employers will have 120 days counted from its entry into force to adapt their SSH to the requirements of the Technical Standard.
Within 60 days after the entry into force of the Technical Standard, the Institute of Prevention, Health and Labour Safety will make available through its website the form to complete to create a joint SSH and the format to be used when gathering an employee’s occupational medical and clinical bio/psycho/social history.
Technical Standard for the Control in Handling, Lifting and Manual Transporting of Loads
Establish guidelines, criteria and fundamental procedures for regulating the handling, lifting and manual transportation of loads greater than three kilograms.
The Resolution regulates matters relating to: work systems and control measures, recovery periods at work, implementation of technologies and controls in positions and work areas, surface conditions and load transfer, ergonomic assessments of work posts, regulation of work in the standing position and cargo handling, features, design and grip of packaging and loading, training of employees who handle and move loads manually.
Validity and obligation of application:
The Regulation will be effective from the time of its publication in the Official Gazette, that is, from August 24, 2016.
Employers will have a term of 180 days counted from its entry into force to adapt their processes to the requirements of Resolution.