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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Greece

Health and safety laws

Health and safety laws are a crucial part of any workplace, ensuring the well-being of both employees and employers. In Greece, these laws are governed by various legislations and decrees, including the Civil Code - Article 662, Law 3850/2010 (as amended), and Presidential Decree 17/1996. These laws establish the fundamental employer obligation to protect employee health and safety in the workplace.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have a number of responsibilities under these laws. They must conduct systematic risk assessments, appoint a Safety Technician and Occupational Physician, ensure safe design and maintenance of workstations, provide and ensure the use of suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and provide clear health and safety instructions and adequate training. They are also obliged to develop and implement emergency procedures, including fire safety, evacuation, and first aid. Furthermore, employers must report work-related accidents and dangerous incidents to relevant authorities.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employees, on the other hand, have the right to a safe workplace, the right to refuse hazardous work, and the right to receive information and training about workplace risks and safe work practices. They must cooperate with the employer in implementing safety measures, follow established safety procedures, and use PPE as required.

Specific Health and Safety Topics

There are also specific health and safety topics that are addressed by these laws. These include regulations for handling dangerous substances, protections against harmful biological agents, measures to control noise and vibration levels, risks associated with manual handling, risks associated with prolonged computer use, and regulations for construction safety.


The enforcement of these health and safety laws in Greece is the responsibility of the Labour Inspectorate (S.EP.E.). The inspectors have the authority to conduct inspections, issue improvement notices, impose fines or penalties, and initiate criminal proceedings for serious offenses.

It's important to note that this provides a general overview. Employers and employees should consult the specific laws, regulations, and collective agreements that apply to their sector and activities for full legal details.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) in Greece is guided by a combination of national law and the transposition of European Union directives. These form the basis for sector-specific standards. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is the primary authority responsible for OHS policy development and regulatory oversight. The Labour Inspectorate (S.EP.E) enforces OHS laws and regulations, conducting inspections and investigations. Employers' organizations and trade unions also play a role in OHS development and awareness-raising.

Risk Assessment and Management

Employers in Greece are required to conduct systematic workplace risk assessments, identifying potential hazards and implementing mitigating measures. Greek law promotes the hierarchy of controls approach, prioritizing elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and finally, personal protective equipment (PPE).

Workplace Safety

Employers must ensure safe design and maintenance of the work environment, including adequate lighting, ventilation, and temperature control. Strict standards exist for machine guarding, emergency stops, and regular maintenance. Electrical installations must conform to safety codes to prevent electrical shock and fire risks. Buildings must comply with fire safety regulations, including evacuation plans, regular drills, and fire suppression systems.

Chemical Safety

Chemicals must be classified and labeled according to the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). Suppliers must provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) with information on chemical hazards, handling precautions, and emergency response procedures. Employers must implement measures to minimize worker exposure to hazardous chemicals, including ventilation, engineering controls, and PPE.

Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

Regulations require risk assessments and controls for lifting, carrying, and repetitive movements to prevent back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. Employers must ensure ergonomic design of workstations, particularly for computer-based work, to minimize strain and discomfort.

Psychosocial Risks

Employers have a general duty to create a safe and healthy work environment, addressing factors that can contribute to stress and burnout. Greek law prohibits workplace harassment and violence, and employers must implement measures to prevent and address such incidents.

Construction Sector

Construction work is governed by detailed regulations due to its high-risk nature, addressing scaffolding, fall protection, excavation safety, and more.

Additional Standards

Greece has specific standards in place for noise and vibration exposure, biological agents, radiation protection, occupational health surveillance, and first aid and medical support.

Continuous Improvement

Greece's OHS framework emphasizes continual improvement through regular review of risk assessments, safety measures, incident reporting and analysis, and training initiatives.

Workplace inspection

The Labour Inspectorate (S.EP.E.) in Greece is responsible for conducting workplace inspections and enforcing compliance.

Workplace Inspection Criteria

The inspections carried out by the Labour Inspectorate cover various aspects of workplace safety. These include:

  • Risk Assessments: Inspectors check if employers have conducted adequate risk assessments and implemented appropriate control measures.
  • Safe Work Practices: Inspectors observe adherence to safe work procedures, machine and equipment safety, and the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Workplace Conditions: The conditions of the workplace, such as lighting, ventilation, temperature, noise levels, and general hygiene, are evaluated during inspections.
  • Hazardous Substances: The proper handling, storage, labeling, and control of hazardous chemicals are verified by inspectors.
  • Ergonomics: Inspectors assess workstation design and manual handling practices to identify risks of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Inspectors scrutinize the existence and implementation of fire safety plans, evacuation procedures, and first-aid provisions.
  • Record-keeping: Inspectors review accident and incident records, training records, and maintenance logs of equipment.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of workplace inspections in Greece is influenced by several factors:

  • Risk Level: Workplaces with higher inherent hazards are subject to more frequent inspections.
  • Complaint-Based Inspections: The Labour Inspectorate responds to worker complaints and concerns about safety violations.
  • Targeted Programs: Inspectors may conduct focused inspection campaigns on specific industries or safety issues.

Inspection Procedures

The inspection process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Unannounced Inspections: Labour inspectors generally have the power to enter workplaces without prior notice.
  2. Opening Interview: Inspectors meet with employer representatives to explain the inspection purpose and scope.
  3. Walkthrough and Examination: Inspectors observe the workplace, examine equipment and facilities, review documents, and may interview employees.
  4. Closing Interview: Inspectors discuss initial findings with the employer and outline any potential violations identified.
  5. Inspection Report: A formal report summarizes the findings and outlines any required corrective actions.

Follow-Up Actions

After the inspection, several actions may be taken:

  • Improvement Notices: Inspectors can issue improvement notices outlining required corrective actions and deadlines for compliance if violations are found.
  • Fines and Penalties: For serious or repeated violations, the Labour Inspectorate may impose fines or other penalties.
  • Criminal Proceedings: Severe breaches of safety regulations can result in criminal prosecution.
  • Appeals: Employers have the right to appeal enforcement actions they deem unjustified.

The Labour Inspectorate has the discretion to prioritize inspections and allocate resources according to the assessed needs, aiming for maximum prevention and compliance impact within resource constraints.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are serious incidents that require immediate attention and reporting. Employers are legally obligated to report such incidents to several authorities. This must be done within 24 hours of the incident to the Labour Inspectorate (S.EP.E) and the Employee's Insurance Agency (e.g., IKA-ETAM). In cases of fatality or severe injury, the local police must be informed immediately. A detailed written report must also be submitted to the judge of the first instance of the court where the accident occurred within 15 days of the accident.

Investigation Processes

The employer is primarily responsible for conducting an internal investigation into the accident. This involves identifying causes and implementing corrective actions to prevent recurrence. In serious cases, the Labour Inspectorate may conduct its own investigation to determine any breaches of safety regulations. Employers and employees must cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the Labour Inspectorate or other relevant authorities.

Compensation Claims

Workers injured in workplace accidents are generally entitled to compensation through Greece's social security system. Benefits may include medical treatment and rehabilitation costs, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability pensions, and survivor benefits in case of a fatal accident. In addition to social security benefits, injured workers or their families may pursue civil lawsuits against the employer if negligence or intentional misconduct contributed to the accident.

Specific Procedures

Employers must maintain an accident register, recording details of all work-related accidents, even those that don't result in serious injuries. Workplaces must have adequate first aid supplies and trained personnel available to provide immediate assistance in the case of accidents. Employers should facilitate a smooth and safe return to work for injured workers after recovery, potentially with temporary accommodations as needed.

Important Considerations

There are specific time limits for reporting accidents and filing for compensation claims. It is advisable for employees to seek legal advice regarding compensation claims, particularly in complex or severe cases. The proactive focus of Greek law emphasizes that accident prevention through robust risk management is the paramount goal.

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