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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Ecuador

Health and safety laws

The Constitution of Ecuador (2008) provides the fundamental framework for health and safety in the workplace, recognizing the right to safe and healthy working conditions and promoting preventive health practices. The Labor Code (“Código del Trabajo”) is the central governing body of labor legislation, including workplace health and safety.

Key Regulatory Bodies

The Ministry of Labor (“Ministerio de Trabajo”) is the principal government entity responsible for the formulation, implementation, and monitoring of health and safety policies and regulations. The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS – “Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social”) oversees the occupational risk prevention system, administers workers' compensation insurance, and promotes health and safety.

Employer Obligations

Employers are required to establish Occupational Risk Prevention Departments responsible for developing and implementing health and safety programs tailored to their workplaces. They must provide workers with comprehensive information and training on health and safety hazards, prevention measures, and emergency procedures. Employers are obligated to provide workers with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) corresponding to the hazards present in their working environment, free of charge. They must have a written health and safety plan identifying potential risks, preventive measures, and emergency response plans. Employers are also required to report all work-related accidents and diseases to IESS and the Ministry of Labor.

Employee Rights

Workers have the right to refuse to perform work if they believe it poses an imminent danger to their health or safety. They have the right to be involved in health and safety matters through safety committees or representatives. Workers have the right to access information about hazards in their workplace and the measures in place to control them. They are entitled to workers' compensation benefits in the event of work-related injuries or diseases.

Specific Health & Safety Regulations

Ecuador's health and safety regulations cover a wide range of issues, including chemical hazards, physical hazards, ergonomics, machine safety, electrical safety, fire safety, and construction safety.


The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing health and safety laws, including conducting inspections and issuing citations or fines for non-compliance.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a fundamental right of workers in Ecuador, as established by the Constitution of Ecuador. The Labor Code (Código del Trabajo) provides the core framework for OHS regulations in the country. Specific regulations and technical standards for preventing occupational accidents and illnesses are outlined in Ministerial Agreement No. 124, while Ministerial Agreement No. 146 establishes guidelines for OHS committees in workplaces. The Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) is the primary institution responsible for OHS administration.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in Ecuador have a wide range of responsibilities to ensure OHS. These include risk assessment and prevention, provision of safety equipment, worker training, medical surveillance, establishment of OHS committees, and reporting and recordkeeping.

Worker Rights and Participation

Ecuadorian workers have several rights regarding OHS. These include the right to know about hazards in their workplace, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to participate in OHS decision-making.

Specific OHS Standards

Ecuador's OHS regulations cover a wide range of workplace hazards and conditions, including physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, ergonomic hazards, psychosocial hazards, and fire safety and emergency preparedness.

Areas for Improvement

While Ecuador has a legal framework for OHS, there are areas where improvements can be made. These include a focus on the informal sector, limited resources for conducting inspections and enforcing regulations, and worker awareness.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections in Ecuador are governed by the Ministry of Labor Relations and the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute. These inspections are guided by key regulations such as the Ecuadorian Constitution, Labor Code, Regulation of Workers' Safety and Health and Improvement of Working Environment, and the Andean Instrument for Safety and Occupational Health.

Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections typically focus on physical hazards, chemical hazards, ergonomics, fire and emergency prevention, personal protective equipment, and occupational safety and health management systems.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of inspections may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry sector, and the company's accident history.

Inspection Procedures

Inspection procedures include notification, an opening conference, a walkthrough inspection, a closing conference, and an inspection report.

Follow-Up Actions

After the inspection, the employer must address identified noncompliances within the established deadlines. Inspectors conduct follow-up visits to verify corrections. Failure to comply can result in fines, business closures, and even criminal proceedings in severe cases.

Workplace accidents

Employers in Ecuador are obligated to report workplace accidents to the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) within 24 hours of the incident. If they fail to do so, they may face administrative sanctions. The IESS has established specific forms and procedures for reporting these accidents. In the case of severe accidents, serious disabilities, or fatalities, the employer must also notify the Ministry of Labor.

Investigation Processes

The IESS is responsible for investigating workplace accidents in Ecuador. The purpose of these investigations is to determine the causes of the accident, identify those responsible (if applicable), and establish preventive measures to avoid future incidents. For severe accidents, the Ministry of Labor may form an investigation committee comprised of representatives from the Ministry, IESS, the employer, and workers. Workers or their representatives have the right to participate in the investigation process.

Compensation Claims

The IESS provides compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses. This includes medical expenses, rehabilitation, and temporary disability benefits, permanent disability compensation, and death benefits for dependents. Occupational diseases are also compensable under the IESS system. In addition to IESS benefits, workers may have the right to bring civil lawsuits against their employers for negligence or intentional acts that lead to workplace accidents.

The Constitution of Ecuador guarantees workers' rights to safe and healthy working conditions. The Labor Code regulates employers' obligations regarding occupational health and safety. The Risk Prevention Regulations of the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute provide further details.

Please note that this guide provides a general overview. Specific regulations and procedures may vary depending on the industry and type of accident. For specific legal advice regarding a workplace accident, it's essential to consult with an Ecuadorian labor lawyer.

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