Labor safety regulations in Georgia have become a topic of active discussion leading to adoption of the new Law of Georgia on Labor Safety (the “Law on Labor Safety”). Part of the requirements under the Law on Labor Safety entered into force upon publication on 21 March 2018, while others entered into force from 1 August 2018. The Law on Labor Safety will become fully binding from 1 January 2019. The Law on Labor Safety complements the Labor Code of Georgia (the “Labor Code”) and together with several Governmental decrees, orders and regulations establishes general safety requirements applicable to the specific activities performed by employees.
The Law on Labor Safety applies to jobs considered to be of increased danger, hard, harmful and hazardous. The employer’s compliance with the labor safety regulations in Georgia will be overseen by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia through its respective departments. In addition to the labor safety requirements established under the Law on Labor Safety certain employers have the obligation under the order of the Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs of Georgia to undertake mandatory medical inspection of their employees.
Obligations of the employers towards employees under new regulations
The Labor Code establishes a general obligation of the employer to provide its employees with a working environment that is safe for their life and health. This includes an obligation of the employer to provide employees with full, objective, and comprehensive information regarding all factors affecting employees’ life and health or safety in the natural environment. The Law on Labor Safety further elaborates on the responsibility of employers for guaranteeing the safety of their employees in the workplace, since the jobs performed by these employees are considered to be dangerous, hard, harmful and hazardous. The main obligation of the employers in this case is to ensure that they have taken all measures to avoid any damage to the health and safety of employees and third parties. Such measures include, but are not limited to training and information campaigns as well as adoption of relevant preventive measures by the employers.
Labor Safety Specialist and Labor Safety Department
The employers are required under the Law on Labor Safety to take steps for organization and management of labor safety in the workplace. In this respect starting from 1 January 2019 the employers are required to appoint at least one of its employees as a labor safety specialist or to create a labor safety department with two or more labor safety specialists. Labor safety specialists will be required to undergo an accredited training program.
Emergency Services and Evacuation
The Law on Labor Safety obliges the employers to take appropriate measures for guaranteeing the availability of emergency medical services, fire safety and evacuation protocols. The employees have to be permitted to leave the premises in case of emergencies under the direction of the relevant supervisors responsible for emergency situations and evacuation.
Employee Representative for Labor Safety Matters
For effective cooperation and communication between the employer and the employees with respect to labor safety matters the employees shall be entitled to elect a representative for labor safety matters. According to the Law on Labor Safety, the introduction of the employee representative will guarantee the employee participation in the decision-making on labor safety matters by the employer.
Work Related Accidents
The Law on Labor Safety provides that the employer shall immediately, after the occurrence of any accident in the workplace, take proper measures to avoid danger to the health and safety of its employees and the third parties involved in the accident. Moreover, the employer shall, as much as reasonably practicable, safeguard the integrity of the scene of the accident for further inspection by the relevant investigative authorities without endangering the health and safety of its employees or causing itself significant economic loss. If the integrity of the scene of the accident cannot be maintained the employer shall draw up a report describing the situation in order to facilitate the subsequent investigation of the causes of the accident. The employers shall follow the respective requirements with respect to recording, investigation and reporting of work related accidents.
The labor safety regulations in Georgia are still in the stage of development and further legislative and administrative actions are likely to be taken by the relevant authorities. The employers shall be vigilant and shall keep themselves updated about subsequent developments to ensure their compliance with the legal requirements.
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