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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Austria

Health and safety laws

Austrian health and safety laws are centered around key principles such as employer responsibility, a risk-based approach, and employee participation. The primary duty of employers is to protect their employees' health, safety, and welfare at work. They are required to identify and assess risks, and implement preventive measures based on the severity and likelihood of harm. Employees, on the other hand, have the right to be informed about risks, receive safety training, and participate in improving safety measures.

The main law governing health and safety in Austria is the Employee Protection Act (ArbeitnehmerInnenschutzgesetz - ASchG). This law aims to prevent accidents and occupational diseases, protect employee health and wellbeing, and promote humane working conditions.

Risk Assessment

Under the ASchG, employers are required to conduct thorough risk assessments and document them. This involves identifying workplace hazards and implementing suitable control measures. The assessment must cover all work activities, equipment, and substances.

Preventive Measures

The ASchG advocates a hierarchy of controls, which includes elimination of the hazard, substitution with a less dangerous alternative, engineering controls such as isolating workers from the hazard, administrative controls like changing work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as a last resort.

Safety and Health Documents

Employers are also required to prepare a Safety and Health Document (Sicherheits- und Gesundheitsschutzdokument - SiGdok), which outlines the results of the risk assessment, preventive measures, emergency procedures, and specific regulations relevant to the workplace.

Employee Training and Information

The ASchG mandates that employers provide safety and health training at the start of employment and when there are changes. They must also provide clear instructions and information on identified risks and control measures.

Health Surveillance

For certain high-risk jobs, the ASchG mandates pre-employment medical examinations and periodic health checks.

Duties of Employees

Employees also have responsibilities under the ASchG, which include following safety instructions and procedures, using PPE correctly, and reporting hazards and accidents.

Other Important Regulations

In addition to the ASchG, Austria has specific regulations addressing chemicals, construction, machinery, biological agents, and workplaces.


The Austrian Labour Inspectorate (Arbeitsinspektion) is responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation. They have the authority to conduct inspections, issue improvement notices, impose fines or administrative penalties, and in severe cases, order work to stop or prosecute employers.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a crucial aspect of any workplace. In Austria, the Health and Safety at Work Act (ArbeitnehmerInnenschutzgesetz – ASchG) is the primary legislation that outlines the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of employers and employees in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers in Austria have a wide range of responsibilities under the ASchG. These include conducting comprehensive risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential hazards in the workplace, implementing appropriate technical, organizational, and personal protective measures to minimize risks to workers' health and safety, and providing employees with clear information and training on workplace hazards, safe work procedures, and the use of safety equipment.

Employers are also required to maintain accurate records of accidents, injuries, occupational diseases, risk assessments, and preventive measures. They must involve employees or their representatives in OHS decision-making and risk management processes and provide access to occupational health specialists to monitor workers' health and advise on workplace health risks.

Rights of Employees

Austrian employees have several OHS rights. These include the right to work in an environment that is free from recognized hazards, the right to receive information and training on how to work safely and the required preventive measures, and the right to refuse to perform work if they believe there's a serious and imminent danger to their health or safety. Employees also have the right to be consulted about and participate in OHS matters, including through safety representatives.

OHS Management Systems

The implementation of an OHS management system, such as ISO 45001, is strongly encouraged in Austria. These systems provide a structured framework for continuous improvement and compliance. They help organizations establish a process to continually identify hazards, assess risks, and improve their overall OHS performance. They also ensure that organizations meet their legal obligations and industry standards.

Specific OHS Areas

Austrian legislation covers a broad spectrum of OHS areas. These include workplace design and ergonomics, hazardous substances, physical hazards (e.g., noise, vibration, radiation), biological hazards, psychosocial hazards (e.g., stress, workload, workplace violence), first aid and emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a crucial tool used by the Austrian Labour Inspectorate to enforce regulations and promote safer working environments. These inspections aim to identify potential hazards, verify compliance, prevent workplace accidents and illnesses, and raise awareness about rights and responsibilities.

Workplace Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections in Austria are comprehensive and cover a broad range of criteria, including general workplace conditions, machinery and equipment safety, handling of hazardous substances, ergonomics, fire safety and emergency preparedness, protection for specific groups of workers, and documentation of occupational health and safety.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of workplace inspections in Austria is risk-based. The Labour Inspectorate prioritizes high-risk industries and workplaces with a history of accidents or known hazards. Factors such as company size, industry sector, and previous inspection results also play a role. Inspections can be routine or targeted, based on complaints, reports of serious accidents, or concerns about specific hazards.

Inspection Procedures

The inspection process includes an opening meeting, a workplace walk-through, a document review, a closing meeting, and the issuance of an inspection report. The inspector introduces themselves, tours the workplace, observes work processes, identifies potential hazards and risks, examines records, summarizes their findings, discusses any identified violations, and outlines the required corrective actions.

Follow-Up Actions

Employers are given a deadline to rectify any violations identified during the inspection. The Labour Inspectorate may issue improvement notices or administrative penalties for serious or repeated violations. Follow-up inspections may be conducted to verify that corrective actions have been taken. In cases of severe or willful non-compliance, the Labour Inspectorate may initiate legal proceedings.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents, whether serious or minor, require immediate attention and appropriate action. Serious accidents that result in death, serious injury, or significant occupational illness must be reported immediately to the Labour Inspectorate and the Austrian Workers' Compensation Board (AUVA). Less serious accidents, on the other hand, must be recorded internally in the company's accident report book.

Accident Investigation

The employer is primarily responsible for investigating workplace accidents to determine the root causes and implement corrective measures to prevent recurrence. The Labour Inspectorate may conduct its own investigation into serious accidents or if there are concerns about the employer's investigation process. Employees or their representatives have the right to participate in accident investigations.

Compensation Claims

The AUVA is the primary insurer for workplace accidents and occupational diseases in Austria. Injured workers are entitled to medical treatment and rehabilitation, disability benefits, and survivors' benefits in case of fatal workplace accidents.

Claim Procedures

Workers must promptly report any workplace injury or illness to their employer. The injured worker must seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare provider. The employer or the attending doctor assists the worker in filing a claim with the AUVA. The AUVA evaluates the claim and determines eligibility for benefits.

Important Notes

Employees in Austria have protection against dismissal due to workplace accidents or occupational illnesses. Employers are required to carry mandatory workplace accident insurance through the AUVA.

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