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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Chile

Health and safety laws

Chile's health and safety legal landscape is shaped by several core legislative instruments. The Constitution of Chile lays the foundation for workers' rights to safe and healthy working conditions. Law No. 16744 (1968) is the primary legislation that addresses occupational diseases and workplace accidents. The Chilean Labor Code (C贸digo del Trabajo) complements Law No. 16744, containing provisions such as working hours, protections for pregnant workers, and child labor restrictions. The Health Code (C贸digo Sanitario) outlines general regulations impacting workplace health and safety, addressing equipment, machinery, and facility standards. Various decrees provide in-depth regulations on specific aspects of occupational health and safety.

Employer Responsibilities

Chilean law, particularly Article 184 of the Chilean Labour Code, establishes extensive obligations for employers to ensure workplace health and safety. Employers must take all necessary preventative measures to effectively protect the health and lives of their employees. They are required to conduct thorough risk assessments and implement appropriate controls to minimize hazards. Employers must provide workers with clear information about potential workplace risks and deliver essential health and safety training. When hazards cannot be fully eliminated, employers must provide and enforce the use of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Employers may need to arrange for worker health monitoring for certain types of hazardous work. They also have a duty to report and maintain records of workplace accidents and occupational diseases.

Worker Rights and Participation

Chilean health and safety law empowers workers with several key rights and channels for active involvement. Workers have the right to be informed about hazards present in their workplace and the protective measures in place. They can refuse dangerous work without penalty if they have reasonable belief of imminent and serious risk to their health or safety. Workers have the right to be involved in health and safety decisions through mechanisms like Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees (Comit茅s Paritarios de Higiene y Seguridad), which are required in workplaces with over 25 workers and comprise equal employer and worker representation.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Employers failing to adhere to Chilean health and safety laws can face a range of sanctions. Significant fines may be imposed for violations. Authorities may order the suspension of work activities where serious hazards present imminent risks. In cases of severe negligence leading to worker injury or death, employers may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OSH) in Chile is governed by a robust legal framework, with the primary legislation being Law No. 16744 (1968). This law establishes the framework for preventing workplace accidents and occupational diseases. It is complemented by the Chilean Labour Code, which provides additional OSH provisions. Other key regulations include Decree 109, which addresses the process of qualifying and evaluating occupational accidents and illnesses, and Decree 594, which outlines the fundamental sanitary and environmental requirements within workplaces. The Directorate of Labour (Direcci贸n del Trabajo) is the principal government agency responsible for overseeing and enforcing OSH regulations in Chile.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Chile have a legal obligation to provide safe and healthy workplaces. This includes taking all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of their workers, such as providing suitable equipment, safe work procedures, and addressing workplace hazards. Employers must also clearly inform their employees about potential workplace hazards and the measures in place to mitigate those risks. Furthermore, employers are responsible for providing adequate OSH training to workers and ensuring appropriate supervision to promote safe work practices. In workplaces with more than 25 employees, employers must form a joint OSH committee comprised of both worker and employer representatives. These committees play a key role in identifying and addressing workplace safety concerns.

Worker Rights and Participation

Chilean workers have the right to be made aware of potential risks and the measures in place to protect them. They can refuse to perform work that they believe poses an imminent and serious risk to their health or safety. Workers also have the right to participate in the development and implementation of workplace OSH policies and procedures, often through the joint OSH committees. Furthermore, workers can report safety concerns or violations to the Directorate of Labour or other relevant authorities.

Specific OSH Areas

Chilean OSH regulations cover a wide range of workplace hazards and issues.

Chemical Safety

Employers must manage the risks associated with the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous chemicals. Labeling, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and worker training are essential components of chemical safety management.


Workstations and work processes must be designed to minimize ergonomic risks and prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

Machinery and Equipment Safety

Machinery must be properly guarded, maintained, and used in accordance with safety guidelines. Workers must be trained in the safe operation of machinery and equipment.

Emergency Preparedness

Employers must develop and implement emergency plans to address fires, earthquakes, or other potential disasters.

Occupational Health Services

Employers are required to provide workers with access to occupational health services, including health surveillance and medical examinations as needed.

Despite a robust legal framework, Chile continues to face OSH challenges, especially in sectors like mining and construction. The government, employers, and worker organizations are continuously working to improve safety standards and practices.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections in Chile are overseen by the Direcci贸n del Trabajo (DT) or the Labor Directorate, a government body that prioritizes workplace safety and well-being. The role of these inspections is multifaceted, encompassing prevention, compliance, improvement, and accountability.

Role of Workplace Inspections

Workplace inspections serve to identify and mitigate potential hazards or risks before accidents and injuries occur. They also ensure employers adhere to Chilean occupational safety and health (OSH) laws and regulations. Furthermore, they drive continuous improvement in workplace safety standards and practices nationwide and protect workers' rights by holding employers accountable for maintaining safe work environments.

Inspection Procedures

Inspection procedures involve planning and scheduling, which can be based on risk-based targeting, routine inspections, or complaint-triggered inspections. The on-site inspection process includes entry and access, document review, facility walk-through, and worker interviews.

Inspection Criteria

Workplaces are evaluated based on a wide range of OSH standards. These include physical hazards such as machinery, electrical safety, noise, ergonomics, and hazardous substances. Work organization, emergency preparedness, personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, and record-keeping and reporting are also considered.

Follow-up Actions

Follow-up actions include the inspector's report, which details findings, violations (if any), and recommendations for corrective actions. Employers are given deadlines to address violations and submit corrective action plans. Re-inspections are conducted to verify compliance, and sanctions for non-compliance can range from fines to potential temporary or permanent business closure in severe cases.

Workplace accidents

In Chile, employers are legally obligated to report workplace accidents or work-related illnesses to the relevant authorities immediately. This includes Mutual Safety Associations, the nearest office of the Labor Directorate, and relevant health authorities when the accident results in severe injury or occupational illness. Reports of serious accidents or fatalities must be made within 24 hours of the occurrence. Accident reports must describe the event's circumstances, the worker's injuries or illness, and any witnesses or relevant information.

Investigation of Accidents

Employers have the primary responsibility to investigate workplace accidents to determine the cause and preventative measures. Each company in Chile must establish a Joint Committee on Health and Safety. This committee, composed of employer and worker representatives, plays a role in accident investigations and prevention. Investigations should follow a systematic approach, including securing the accident site, collecting evidence, analyzing the root cause(s) of the accident, and recommending corrective actions to avoid future incidents.

Chilean law mandates employers to have workplace accident and occupational illness insurance. This insurance is primarily provided through the Mutualidades. Compensation can cover all necessary medical costs, a portion of their salary while unable to work due to the injury or illness, a pension or a lump sum payment depending on the severity of the disability, and compensation for the worker's dependents in case of a fatal accident. Workers or their representatives file claims with the relevant Mutualidad, which determines the eligibility and level of compensation.

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