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El Salvador

Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in El Salvador

Health and safety laws

In El Salvador, health and safety laws are primarily governed by three key pieces of legislation: the Labor Code, the General Law on Risk Prevention in Workplaces, and the Technical Regulations on Workplace Health and Safety. These laws and regulations establish the obligations for employers and employees, focusing on risk prevention and mitigation, and provide detailed guidelines and standards to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Employer Obligations

Employers in El Salvador are legally required to identify and evaluate potential workplace hazards and implement measures for controlling and mitigating these risks. They must establish clear policies outlining health and safety commitments, procedures, and responsibilities for all levels of the organization. In workplaces with 10 or more employees, joint worker-employer safety committees must be formed. Employers are also required to provide workers with ongoing training on workplace hazards, safe work practices, and the use of personal protective equipment.

Employee Rights

Salvadoran workers have several rights regarding workplace health and safety. They must be informed about workplace hazards and associated risks. They have the right to participate in safety committees and contribute to the development of risk prevention plans. Workers can refuse hazardous work that may endanger their health or safety. Employers must provide relevant medical examinations or surveillance for workers exposed to specific hazards.

Specific Provisions

El Salvador's health and safety laws cover critical areas, including workplace conditions, personal protective equipment, first aid and emergency procedures, and specific industries. Regulations address ventilation, lighting, temperature, noise, ergonomics, sanitation, and the handling of hazardous substances. Employers must provide and ensure the use of appropriate personal protective equipment when engineering or administrative controls are insufficient. Workplaces must have provisions for first aid, emergency plans, and evacuation procedures. Additional regulations apply to high-risk industries like construction, mining, and agriculture.


The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is responsible for overseeing and enforcing health and safety laws. Labor inspectors conduct workplace inspections to assess compliance, issue improvement notices, and impose fines or penalties for violations.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) in El Salvador is primarily governed by the General Law on Occupational Risk Prevention. This law outlines employer obligations, worker rights, and the establishment of prevention programs. El Salvador has also ratified numerous International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions relevant to OHS.

Regulatory and Institutional Bodies

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare is the principal authority responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing OHS regulations and policies. The General Directorate of Labor Inspection conducts workplace inspections and enforces compliance with OHS regulations. The Salvadoran Social Security Institute plays a role in the prevention and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Key Occupational Health and Safety Standards

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Employers are required to identify and evaluate workplace hazards and implement controls to mitigate risks to protect workers' health and safety.

Prevention and Control Measures

Employers are expected to prioritize the elimination of hazards at the source, substitution of less hazardous materials or processes, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workplace Safety

Workplace safety measures include machine guarding, fall protection, compliance with electrical safety codes, fire prevention plans and emergency equipment, and emergency preparedness plans for incidents such as earthquakes and workplace violence.

Occupational Health

Occupational health measures include the management of hazardous chemicals, protection of workers from excessive noise, and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders through work design.

Worker Participation and Training

Health and Safety Committees are required in workplaces with a specified number of employees, ensuring worker participation in OHS management. Employers are also required to provide training in OHS for all workers, including hazard recognition, safe work practices, and emergency procedures.

Challenges and Areas for Improvement

Challenges in OHS in El Salvador include under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses, limited resources for enforcement, and a large informal sector with widespread OHS challenges.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections in El Salvador are crucial for maintaining the safety, health, and well-being of workers across various industries. These inspections are governed by the General Law of Risk Prevention, with the objective of enforcing labor regulations and fostering safe working environments.

Inspection Procedures

The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social – MTPS) is responsible for planning and scheduling inspections. These inspections can be routine or in response to specific complaints or incidents. The employer is usually notified of the inspection in advance, but surprise inspections can also occur under certain circumstances.

During the on-site inspection, MTPS inspectors conduct a comprehensive examination of the workplace. This includes interviewing workers and management, reviewing documents such as safety policies, training records, and accident reports, and observing work practices and conditions.

After the inspection, the inspectors prepare a detailed report outlining observed hazards, non-compliance with regulations, and recommendations for improvement. The employer is then given a timeframe to address the identified issues. Inspectors may conduct re-inspections to verify whether the employer has corrected the identified violations, and continued non-compliance can result in sanctions.

Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections in El Salvador focus on several aspects of occupational safety and health. These include physical hazards, chemical hazards, ergonomic hazards, fire safety, sanitation and hygiene, emergency preparedness, and worker training and awareness.

Frequency of Inspections

The frequency of workplace inspections in El Salvador varies depending on factors such as the risk level of the industry and the company's safety record. High-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing are likely to see more frequent inspections, and employers with a history of workplace accidents may be subject to more frequent monitoring.

Follow-up Actions

Employers are legally required to address issues identified in the inspection report within a stipulated timeframe. Non-compliance can result in fines, with the amount potentially increasing with repeated offenses. In severe cases, where there is imminent danger to worker safety and health, workplace closure may be ordered.

Workplace accidents

In the event of a workplace accident, employers are required to report the incident to the relevant authorities, which include the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS), and local authorities in case of fatalities. The reports must be submitted in writing using the official forms provided by the Ministry of Labor.

Accident Investigation Procedures

The employer is primarily responsible for investigating workplace accidents to determine the root cause and implement preventative measures. The Ministry of Labor and/or the ISSS may also conduct independent investigations, especially in cases of severe injuries or fatalities. If a company has more than 10 employees, the Occupational Safety Committee must be actively involved in the accident investigation process.

Workers' Compensation Claims

Workers who sustain injuries or illnesses due to workplace accidents or occupational hazards are generally entitled to compensation. This includes medical expenses, temporary or permanent disability benefits, and death benefits in the case of fatalities. Employers in El Salvador are legally mandated to obtain workers' compensation insurance through the ISSS or from private insurers. The injured worker (or their dependents in the case of a fatality) must file a claim with the ISSS, which will assess the claim and determine the compensation benefits due.

Important Notes

The specific requirements and procedures may vary depending on the severity of the accident and the industry sector involved. It's strongly recommended that both employers and employees familiarize themselves thoroughly with the relevant provisions of the Labor Code, the Regulation on Occupational Safety and Health, and any sector-specific regulations. Seeking the counsel of an experienced labor lawyer is advisable in cases of complex accidents or disputes over compensation claims.

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