11.12 2022

Changes in the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act entered into force on 19 November 2022. The objective was to enable employers and employees understand more clearly how to comply with occupational health and safety requirements when teleworking. The law now regulates the employer’s obligations in relation to teleworking, and clarifies the rights and obligations of employees in ensuring a safe working environment. Among other things, it imposes an obligation on the employer to organise occupational health services at the workplace.

Employers will now have to comply with a number of requirements if an employee works remotely. One of the employer’s obligations in relation to teleworking is to assess the risks to the health of the employee in the working environment. Risk assessment must take into consideration the nature of the specific work, the use of the workplace and work equipment, and the organisation of work. In order to identify the risks, the employer may talk to the employee, prepare a risk assessment questionnaire and assess risks on the basis of photographs, video recordings and other documents. Following the risk assessment, the employer must record the findings in the risk assessment of the working environment and take measures to prevent and reduce the health risks to the employee.

Another important obligation of the employer is to instruct the employee before allowing them to work remotely, i.e. to explain to the employee the risks related to the working environment in the case of teleworking, their impact on health and the measures to be taken to prevent damage to health. Depending on the nature of the work, it may be necessary to introduce the safety requirements of the work and work equipment, ergonomically correct working postures and techniques, the use of personal protective equipment, electrical and fire safety requirements and instructions on how to avoid environmental pollution before allowing the employee to work remotely. It is important that the employee is able to identify and mitigate the risks after receiving the instructions.

In addition, the employer must provide suitable work equipment, pay sickness benefit if the employee falls ill and organise medical examinations for teleworkers in the same way as for employees who work at the employer’s location.

In addition to the employer’s obligations, the law includes the rights and obligations of teleworkers. Since the employer cannot guarantee safety at the place of teleworking, the employee is responsible for ensuring their own safety to a greater extent. Therefore, an employee working remotely is obligated by law to design a safe working environment and working conditions for themselves based on the employer’s instructions.

Another obligation for employers is to investigate occupational accidents and cases of occupational diseases in the case of remote work. It is an occupational accident if the employee is injured due to the breakdown of work equipment at home. However, if the employee has an accident at home, for example while doing household chores during working hours, this cannot be considered an occupational accident. In any case, the employee must inform the employer of occupational accidents.

Kaia Kuusler

+372 667 6805

Samuel Saadoja

+372 667 6805

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