Legal framework regulating occupational health and safety in the Czech Republic
The issues related to occupational health and safety (hereinafter only “OHS”) in the Czech Republic are divided between two equal entities specialising in occupational safety and occupational health.
Act No. 251/2005 Coll., on labour inspection regulates the establishment and position of labour inspection authorities as authorities overseeing the protection of workplace relationships, working conditions, childcare services provided in children’s groups, the scope of activity and authority of labour inspection bodies, the rights and obligations during inspections, and sanctions for breaching stipulated obligations.
These matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Act No. 258/2000 Coll., on the protection of public health and on changes to certain related acts (hereinafter only the “Public Health Protection Act”) in conjunction with directly applicable regulations of the European Union, regulates the rights and obligations of physical and legal entities in protecting and promoting public health, the establishment of a system of public health authorities and their scope of activity and powers, and the tasks entrusted to other state administrative bodies involving the protection and promotion of public health and assessment and reduction of noise concerning the long-term average noise pollution of the environment. These matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health.
Regional Public Health Authorities and their administrative districts and seats were established under the Public Health Protection Act.
Powers of Regional Public Health Authorities
The Public Health Protection Act authorises the Regional Public Health Authorities to oversee compliance with any prohibitions, the fulfilment of other obligations stipulated by directly applicable regulations of the European Union, this Act, and any special legal regulations protecting public health, including compliance with good manufacturing practices and occupational health addressing the risks in working conditions arising from physical, chemical, and biological factors, adverse microclimatic conditions, physical and mental strain, all other related working conditions, including workplace equipment, and any public health decisions and measures issued under these legal regulations.
Reporting to the competent authority
Under the Public Health Protection Act, the public health authority is the concerned administrative body for decisions on matters governed by special legal regulations concerning interests protected by the public health authority under this Act and the special legal regulations, including health risk assessment and management. The public health authority issues its statements in these matters. The public health authority may bind its consent by the requirement to meet certain conditions.
The Public Health Protection Act stipulates that work is divided into four categories according to the incidence of factors that may influence the health of employees and the level of their health risk. This is addressed in Decree No. 432/2003 Coll., stipulating the conditions for dividing work into individual categories, the limit values for biological exposure test indicators, the conditions for collecting biological material for biological exposure tests, and the particulars for notifying work with asbestos and biological agents.
High-risk work defined for the purposes of this Act as work involving the risk of developing occupational diseases or other work-related diseases means work included in categories three and four, and work included in category two and classified as high-risk work by the competent public health authority or a special legal regulation (Atomic Energy Act).
Unless the special legal regulation stipulates otherwise, the competent public health authority decides on classification of work under category three or four. Employers assign work to the second category. The remaining work performed at an employer’s workplace not assigned to any of the categories is deemed category one work.
If any high-risk work is performed at an employer’s workplace, the relevant employer is required to keep records starting from the assignment of high-risk work for each of their employees.
Act No. 373/2011 Coll., on specific health services, stipulates that the state of health of prospective employees must be assessed in the same manner as that of existing employees using occupational medical services, and that the initial medical examination is performed by an occupational medical service provider under contract concluded with the employer or a registered provider indicated to the prospective employee by the employer, unless a different legal regulation stipulates otherwise.
If the employment only involves work classified under category one under the Public Health Protection Act, and if the employment does not involve any activities governed by other legal regulations, then occupational medical examinations and assessment of the state of health for occupational purposes must be arranged via written request presented to a provider operating as the employee’s or candidate’s registered healthcare provider. Employers are always required to arrange initial medical examinations before concluding:
- An employment agreement
- A contract for work or a contract for services, if the person seeking employment is to be assigned work deemed high-risk according to the Public Health Protection Act or
involves activities subject to the state of health requirements stipulated by other legal regulations.
An employer may also request an initial medical examination if there is any doubt of the prospective employee’s state of health being adequate to perform other than high-risk work under a contract for work or a contract for services, or under a relationship similar to an industrial relationship.
The content and scope of occupational medical examinations is regulated by Decree No. 79/2013 Coll., implementing certain provisions of Act No. 373/2011 Coll., on specific health services (the Decree on occupational medical services and certain types of assessment services).