OSH system at national level - Cyprus

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  IOM

Spyros Dontas, ELINYAE, Greece

Occupational safety and health legislative framework

The legal system in Cyprus is based on national laws and regulations emanating from them. With regards to safety and health at work, a cluster of laws has been introduced during the last fifteen years with the purpose of introducing European standards. These laws actually transpose Directive 89/391/EEC [1] for the application of measures to promote the improvement of safety and health of workers at work. The legislative framework on OSH includes the following laws [2]:

  • Law 89(I)/1996: The Safety and Health at Work Law of 1996
  • Law 158(I)/2001: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2001
  • Law 25(I)/2002: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2002
  • Law 41(I)/2003: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2003
  • Law 99(I)/2003: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2003
  • Law 33(I)/2011: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2011
  • Law 170(I)/2015: The Safety and Health at Work (Amendment) Law of 2015

These laws form a coherent system for the management of safety and health at work in Cyprus. They stipulate that the employer must assess the risks for safety and health of employees, with respect to the selection of equipment, chemical substances or preparations and the suitability of each workplace. The production methods must secure the improvement of the level of protection of health and safety of employees in all the activities of the company. The written risk assessment must define the preventive and protective measures, which must be undertaken and, if needed, the material or protective equipment which must be used. Where the employer employs five or more persons, he must keep a special safety and health register in which risks and measures taken are recorded. Self-employed persons should also have a written risk assessment. Finally, the employer must develop and implement a safety system or a risk management system suitable to the size of the company, for effective planning, organization, control, monitoring and reviewing of preventive and protecting measures. The system should target the improvement of safety, health and welfare of all workers and promote the cooperation between employers and employees.

National strategy and programmes

The "Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work during the period 2013 – 2020" [3][4] is a continuation of the "Strategy of Cyprus on Safety and Health at Work 2007 – 2012" [5] and sets the direction and priorities for the continuous and constant improvement of safety and health levels at work.

A number of elements and groups’ opinions were taken into account to prepare the Strategy 2013 - 2020. These were the views of the social partners, the results of the evaluation of the "Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2007 – 2012", the recommendations of the Committee of Senior Labour Inspectors and of the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work of the European Union on a new European strategy, the strategies of other EU Member States, the experiences gained from the implementation of existing legislation on health and safety at work and the special needs of the Cypriot society.

The fundamental pillars of the new Strategy 2013 – 2020 are the following:

  1. Optimisation of operation of the existing Institutional Framework: The framework is based on: Activities of the Labour Advisory Body, which advises the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Security on all labour issues and present recommendations and suggestions on the working legislation. Activities of the Pan Cyprian Council of Safety and Health, which advises the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. [6]
  2. Existence of a suitable, adequate and workable Legislative Framework fully harmonized with the European Acquis: The legislative framework is fully harmonized to the corresponding European Acquis. However, it will be supplemented due to particular requirements of Cyprus due to activities like offshore, search, extraction and transportation of hydrocarbons. In addition, the strategy will promote the simplification of the national legislative framework without deterioration of the level of safety and health.
  3. Existence of an appropriate and adequate Labour Inspection System: The implementation of appropriate inspections is based on accurate and factual evidence from inspections, from accidents and other indicators. This includes activities as:
    1. Creation of the appropriate structures
    2. Provision of adequate and systematic training for inspectors covering also offshore activities.
    3. Organisation of exchange visits of inspectors to other Member States of the European Union to obtain knowledge and experience
    4. Promotion of closer cooperation with other services such as Police, Fire and Labour Department, etc.
    5. Providing the inspectors with appropriate technological equipment
    6. Improve the structure and staffing of the Labour Inspection Department
  4. Improvement of operation of the Supporting Institutions: Providing targeted support and information to the Safety Officers as well as to the Approved Persons who provide Services for the Protection and prevention on safety and health at work issues.
  5. Introduction and implementation of a suitable Health Surveillance System of the employees: The Health Surveillance Institutions will work on the implementation of an Action Plan, which was prepared after completing a background study and by introduction of new legislation. There is a need to concentrate efforts on the recording, monitoring and prevention of occupational diseases. In particular, there should be efforts to tackle
    1. musculoskeletal disorders,
    2. work-related stress, and
    3. diseases caused by the use hazardous chemicals.
  6. Promotion of prevention and a safety culture through awareness raising, information and training: Promoting prevention of occupational accidents and diseases and development of a health and safety culture through:
    1. regular and specialized inspections at workplaces,
    2. campaigns organised in collaboration with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the Senior Labour inspectors Commission of the European Union,
    3. effective functioning of the Security Committees,
    4. publications and articles in media of social partners and other organisations with particular interest in issues of Safety and Health at Work,
    5. the preparation and distribution of simple, understandable material prepared by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work,
    6. publication of guidance and supporting information on the websites of the Labour Inspection Department and other institutions,
    7. seminars, workshops and other awareness and information activities,
    8. other forms of cooperation with organisations that have special interest in Safety and Health at Work,
    9. education programs and training,
    10. economic incentives and disincentives,
    11. voluntary tools, such as competitions, etc.
    12. By implementing plans and programs for promoting health in the workplace and cooperation with the medical staff.
    13. By developing partnerships with Agencies representing scholars, designers and constructors.
    14. In collaboration with the mass media.
    15. By encouraging employees and the public to communicate with the Labour Inspection.
    16. By integrating management at Work Safety and Health at all business operating levels.
    17. Support of SMEs through the use of simple and operational tools (e.g. interactive risk assessment tool).
  7. Mainstreaming of safety and health at work issues into other policy sectors and in particular the following:
    1. Education: integration of safety and health issues in the curriculum, so that today's pupils and students, but tomorrow's employers and employees, gain knowledge over time in Safety and Health issues as well as developing a safety culture.
    2. Employment: training of new workers concerning OSH issues; inspection of companies in order to improve OSH in the context of the examination procedure of granting alien employment permit.
    3. Development: Integration of OSH issues in the public procurement process.
    4. Certification of professional qualifications: inclusion of OSH issues to the subjects under examination in the context of certification of professional qualifications.
    5. Provision of subsidies: inspection of premises, to apply the minimum levels for Safety and Health, in cases financing is provided through upgrade programs for equipment, facilities, reallocation of companies, etc.
  8. Encouragement of the scientific progress and research: Better collaboration and utilisation of scientific research, particularly mentioned are: new technologies such as waste management and nanotechnology. It should also cover demographic change, changes in employment
  9. Close cooperation with the Social Partners and other stakeholders: The improvement of health and safety at work levels require the active participation of all stakeholders involved. The already well-functioning cooperation will be strengthen.
  10. Active participation in bodies and activities of the European Union: Active participation in the ACSH and its working groups, in the SLIC, the governing body of EU-OSHA, Eurostat and the ILO.

The state of implementation of the new Strategy 2013 – 2020 will be assessed at regular intervals through the Action Plan, which has been prepared for this purpose and refers to the obligations of all stakeholders. Both, the Strategy and the Action Plan were first discussed and approved unanimously by the members of the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council and the Labour Advisory Board. Following this, they were submitted to the Council of Ministers, which approved these on 12/3/2014.

Cyprus has designed the former "Strategy of Cyprus on Safety and Health at Work for the Period 2007-2012" [5] based on the Commission Communication "Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work.[7].

The former strategy was organised around eleven fundamental pillars. These were:

  1. The existence of a suitable institutional framework
  2. The existence of a suitable legislative framework
  3. Operation of a suitable and adequate labour inspection system
  4. Operation of suitable supporting institutions
  5. Operation of a suitable health surveillance system of the workers
  6. Promotion of accidents and occupational diseases' prevention through awareness raising, information and training
  7. Incorporation of safety and health at work issues into other policy areas such as education, employment, agriculture, environment, transportation, etc.
  8. Encouragement of scientific progress and research
  9. Close cooperation with the Social Partners and other stakeholders
  10. Active participation at the bodies of the European Union
  11. Implementation of targeted awareness campaigns

The Strategy on Safety and Health at work 2007 – 2012 was evaluated. The main results are described in the introduction of the Strategy of Cyprus on Safety and Health at Work for the period 2013 – 2020 [5].

Social dialogue

Social dialogue at national level

Law 89(I)/96 [2] established the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council (PSHC) [8] as a tripartite body (state/employers/employees). The council is a consultative body on OSH matters and provides advice to the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance on new legislation and measures for the prevention of work accidents and occupational diseases. It consists of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, the Mines Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, the Agriculture Department of the same Ministry, the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEB), the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEBE), the major confederations of the trade unions (PEO, SEK, DEOK, POAS), the confederation of the public servants (PASYDY), the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber (ETEK), the Cyprus Union of Bank Employees (ETYK) and the Cyprus Safety and Health Association (SAYK, its English acronym being: CySHA).

Social dialogue at enterprise level

The Safety and Health at Work Laws (89(I)/1996-2003, Articles 9-12) [9] and the Management of Safety and Health Issues at Work Regulations of 2002 (173/2002, Article 11) [10] stipulate the role and the function of the Safety Committees. The participants in the Safety Committees include the safety representatives (SR), who are elected by the employees at the plant, the employer or his representative, the Safety Officer (SO) and, if available, a medical practitioner. The Safety Committee is elected for a three-year period. The Committee meets once every three months and whenever required following a written requisition from the safety representatives or when demanded by the employer. The Committee submits proposals on OSH measures that may improve the working conditions and the prevention of work related accidents and diseases. It deals with employees’ complains on OSH matters, promotes the cooperation within the plant for the implementation of health and safety measures and safe production methods. It also participates in the preparation of Safety Rules for the plant; it oversees the training programmes and the dissemination of information material on OSH. Finally, it collaborates with the Labour Inspector on all OSH matters.

The number of safety representatives depends on the number of employees. For companies with 2-9, 10-19 and 20-49 employees have one, two and three representatives respectively. For every 50 extra employees one safety representative is added to the Committee. For companies with less than ten employees, no Safety Committee is established.

The employer should in all cases facilitate the formation of a Safety Committee and has to provide time during working hours in order for the representatives to carry out their duties. He also has to provide information and training on OSH matters. The Committee proposes to the employer measures for improved work conditions. The employer is then obliged to take heed of all the feasible measures. The employer is not obliged to provide information regarding industrial and commercial secrets, and information about any persons without their approval. Finally, the employer calls the Safety Committees’ meetings.

OSH infrastructure

OSH infrastructure scheme

Figure 1: OSH Infrastructure in Cyprus on an implementation level

OSH Infrastructure-Cyprus.png.PNG

Source: Overview by the author (Spyros Dontas)

National competent bodies

OSH authorities and Inspection services

The Department of Labour Inspection (Labour Inspectorate) [11] belongs to the Ministry of Labour, Wellfare and Social Insurance [12] and is responsible for safeguarding adequate levels of safety and health at work. The Department consists of one area and five sectors:

a) The Safety and Health at Work Area b) The Machinery and Equipment Sector c) The Industrial Pollution and Control Sector d) The Air Quality Sector e) The Radiation Protection Sector f) The Chemical Substances Sector

The Safety and Health at Work Area proposes and applies suitable legislation for the protection of safety and health at work, implements an inspection system, informs the public, trains department personnel and enhances cooperation among the social partners. The Area also regulates the organization and management of OSH issues at work.

The Machinery and Equipment Sector regulates issues on safety and health requirements for work equipment such as machinery, lifts, pressure equipment, simple pressure vessels, personal protective equipment and protective systems used in potentially explosive atmospheres.

The Industrial Pollution and Control Sector has as its main objective the prevention, reduction and control of pollution arising from industrial installations, in order to protect the health and welfare of all citizens. The licensing of industrial plants and the granting of relevant Air Emission Permits is stipulated in Law 187(I)/2002) for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution [13].

The aim of the Air Quality Sector is to continuously monitor air pollutants and to take measures to improve air quality and prevent adverse health effects.

The Radiation Protection Sector aims at radiation protection, nuclear safety, safeguarding from ionizing radiation sources and, finally, radioactive waste management.

The Chemical Substances Sector has as its main objective to safeguard the safety and health of all those persons who use chemical substances either in their working or domestic environment. The sector deals with issues related to the labeling, classification and packaging of chemical substances. In addition it provides information for the protection of the general environment

OSH services

Given the small size of the country, OSH services provided by the employer to his employees are directly associated with the social dialogue mechanisms at the enterprise level (Safety Committees).

According to Law 89(I)/1996 [14], if a company employs only up to 4 employees, the employer can himself undertake health and safety issues, given that he has the means or the ability to do so. If not, he is required to seek help from experts. For companies that engage from 2 to 9 employees, the employer nominates one or more employees or appoints an expert to monitor OSH issues. In addition, the employees elect one safety representative. In companies engaging 10 to 199 employees, the employer is required to nominate a safety committee, whose members include the employer or his representative, a medical doctor or practitioner, a safety officer, if available, and, depending on the number of the workers in the company, representatives from the workforce. Companies with more than 200 employees must employ a full time safety officer and have a safety committee in which the safety officer takes part (Art. 10 of L. 89(I)/1996).

The safety officer has the following responsibilities:

  • The officer conducts regular inspections in the plant in order to identify occupational risks, which may emanate from machinery, work procedures and hazards in the workplace.
  • The officer recommends to the employer, preventive measures in order to avoid or minimize work related accidents and diseases.
  • The officer also accompanies the labour inspector whenever the inspector visits the workplace
  • Finally, the officer organizes and participates in the organization of educational programmes for the employees on OSH issues.

The title and position of occupational physician in Cyprus is held only by a medical consultant of the Minister of Labour, Wellfare and Social Insurance [10]. Even so, companies are obliged to provide medical services to their employees through external medical practitioners. This medical surveillance scheme includes the identification of risks for health, periodical health examinations etc. In the event that the employer makes use of an External Preventive and Protective Service (EXYPP) or of an Approved Person, he must inform these services or persons of factors, which may have adverse effects on the safety and health of employees or other persons. The employer must ensure that the services and the approved persons have the required qualifications, possess the required personal and professional means that are sufficient for the size, the spatial distribution and the risks in his company. The employer must also communicate to the Chief Inspector (or the inspector) of the Labour Inspectorate [15] the name and address of the service or the person and the type of services offered.

The services and the persons providing prevention from occupational risks must be approved by the Chief Inspector after furnishing documents, which certify the necessary qualifications and means. They must also maintain records with data from examinations, measurements, surveys, recommendations etc. and submit these to the Chief Inspector by the end of the first bimester of each year in a form of an annual activity report.

Compensation and insurance bodies

The Department of Social Insurance Services of the Ministry of Labour, Wellfare and Social Insurance is responsible for the administration of the Social Insurance Law (Law 41 of 1980-2007 and its Regulations) [16]. Based on the above legislation, a Social Insurance Scheme was put into operation in 1980. Law 41 covers “employment accidents” and “occupational diseases” [17] and provides injury benefits (temporary incapacities), disablement benefits and death benefits.

Other OSH bodies

The Cyprus Safety and Health Association (CySHA) [18] [19] was founded in 1991. Its objective is to contribute and participate in efforts to promote health and safety at work and prevent risks. It has more than two hundred and fifty members. Most of them come from the private sector but many Labour Inspectors are also its members. From 2003 CySHA is an active member of the European Network of Safety and Health Professional Organisations (ENSHPO) [20], which deals with the mutual recognition of qualifications in health and safety in Europe.

Education, training and awareness raising

Legally required training for OSH specialists

Article 10 of Law 89(I)/1996 [21] stipulates that the Safety Officer should have adequate knowledge and experience in order to be able to handle all matters concerning the health and safety of workers. In order to reach this level of competence it is considered that any future Safety Officer should undertake a training course of at least 130 hours. Of these, 16 hours should be on risk assessment, followed by six hour sessions on each of the following topics: fire protection, chemical and biological agents, electrical risks, physical agents (noise, microclimate, radiations etc), workplace transport of staff, materials and machinery, first aid, personal protective equipment, principles of occupational health and psycho-somatic risks. After fulfilling the above training requirements the trainee is given the status of Safety Officer following approval by the Minister of Labour.

The Department of Labour Inspection organizes training courses regularly, and at times in association with foreign organizations or institutions.

Other vocational training

The Cyprus Safety and Health Association (CySHA) organizes seminars, conferences, and lectures on OSH issues either alone or in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance.

Awareness raising networks

Cyprus participates in international networks, which organize awareness campaigns like those of the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC) of the European Union [22] or the Safety and Health at Work Week of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)[23]. National Annual Campaigns for the Prevention of Work Accidents and Occupational Diseases as well as campaigns focused on specialized subjects are also organized.

Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

In Cyprus there is no particular research institute specializing on OSH. The eighth fundamental pillar of the Strategy on Safety and Health at Work for the Period 2007-2012 deals with the encouragement of scientific progress and research. The Strategy intends to promote the collaboration between universities, institutes and services in Cyprus and abroad in order to face OSH risks. Assignments of studies to suitable organizations are a means towards this end.

Standardization bodies

The Standardization, Accreditation and Technical Information Law (156(I)/2002) [24] has allocated standardization activities to the Cyprus Certification Company which was renamed the Cyprus Organization for Standardization (CYS) [25]. It is the national standardization body and it participates in the European and international standardization process. “Mirror Committee 04” follows international activities in the health and safety sector.


Institutions and organizations

The Pancyprian Safety and Health Council http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/mlsi.nsf/All/A68C984F22BC430DC2257847002C5A18

The Department of Labour Inspection of the Ministry of Labour, Wellfare and Social Insurance http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/dmlindex_en/dmlindex_en?OpenDocument

The Cyprus and Health and Safety Association http://www.cysha.org.cy/ENG/index.htm

The Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation (CYS) http://www.cys.org.cy/default.asp?id=184

References

  1. Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the Introduction of Measures to encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health of Workers at Work. Available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1989:183:0001:0008:EN:PDF
  2. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  3. Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία - Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2013 – 2020 (Strategy of Cyprus for safety and health at work during the period 2013-2020). Available at: [1]
  4. Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection (2017), Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2013 – 2020. Available at:[2]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Strategy of Cyprus on Safety and Health at Work for the Period 2007-2012, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. Available at: [3]
  6. Cyprus Safety and Health Association (CySHA). (2013). Retrieved 13 June 2016, from: [4]
  7. Commission Communication "Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work". Available at: [5]
  8. The Pancyprian Safety and Health Council. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/mlsi.nsf/All/A68C984F22BC430DC2257847002C5A18
  9. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  10. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  11. The Department of Labour Inspection, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (2012), front page. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/dmlindex_en/dmlindex_en?OpenDocument
  12. Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (2010-2012), front page. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy
  13. Law 187(I)/2002 for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution [in Greek]. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/mlsi.nsf/All/40062389A233AA15C22577C800227D54?OpenDocument&highlight=187
  14. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  15. The Department of Labour Inspection, Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (2012), front page. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/dmlindex_en/dmlindex_en?OpenDocument
  16. The Social Insurance Law - Employers Guide. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/sid/sid.nsf/All/FF4DA73493D94165C2256F70001FE49B?OpenDocument
  17. The Social Insurance Law - Benefits for Employment Accidents and Occupational Diseases. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/sid/sid.nsf/All/25E68D183B8A8636C2256E390039AE04?OpenDocument
  18. The Cyprus and Health and Safety Association. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.cysha.org.cy/ENG/index.htm
  19. Health and safety at work in Cyprus (from the European Industrial Relations Observatory). Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro/2004/04/feature/cy0404102f.htm
  20. European Network of Safety and Health Professional Organisations (ENSHPO). Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.enshpo.eu/
  21. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  22. European Commission, Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (no publishing date), Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC). Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=153&langId=en&intPageId=685
  23. . EU-OSHA – European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (no publishing date), front page. Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from http://osha.europa.eu/en/front-page
  24. The legal framework on OSH [in Greek], 1996-2011. Available at: http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dli.nsf/All/292E937D17A4E043C22576F2002611E2/$file/Peri%20Asfaleias%20kai%20Ygeias%20Nomoi%201996-2011-ENOPOIISI.pdf
  25. The Cyprus Organisation for Standardisation (CYS). Retrieved on 18 May 2012, from: http://www.cys.org.cy/default.asp?id=184