OSH systems at national level - Latvia

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  IOM

Ivars Vanadzins, Riga Stradins University, and Gediminas Vilkevicius, Aleksandras Stulginskis University


Occupational safety and health legislative framework

System for Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is primarily set by the main legal document for this area in Latvia – the Labour Protection Law [1] (note: instead of the commonly used term “Occupational safety and health” in Latvia term “Labour protection” (“Darba aizsardzība” in Latvian) is used as remaining from the former Soviet Union. However the definition in the Labour Protection Law explains that “labour protection means safety and health of employees at work”. Some aspects of the OSH are also covered by other main regulatory framework law – the Labour Law [2].

The Labour Protection Law transposes into Latvian legal system the requirements of the framework 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.

Under the Labour Protection Law there are more than 20 different Regulations that explain with more detail the particular requirements that are foreseen by the Labour Protection Law. These regulations are issued by the Cabinet of Ministers as Latvian legal system has been built in the way that general (framework) legal requirements are adopted by the Parliament (Saeima) and are then brought into practice by Regulations adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers containing more explicit explanations of requirements. Some regulations are also issued based on requirements of the Labour Law, e.g. requirements towards child labour etc.

Both the Labour Protection Law and the Labour Law apply to any “employer” that is employing at least one employee without restriction to size, ownership or industrial branch of the undertaking. The main purpose of the Labour Protection Law is to guarantee and improve safety and health protection of employees at work by determining obligations, rights and mutual relations regarding labour protection between employers, employees and their representatives as well as State institutions.

According to the Labour Protection Law each employer is responsible for establishment of an OSH system at the company [1] consisting of:

  1. Internal supervision of the working environment, including evaluation of the working environment risks (risk assessment);
  2. Establishment of an organisational structure (meaning the internal structure to provide OSH at the workplace) of the labour protection at the company;
  3. Consultation with employees in order to involve them in improvement in labour protection.

Further requirements in the area of OSH are described by the Cabinet Regulation No 660 Procedures for the Performance of Internal Supervision of the Work Environment [3]. The Regulation by a structure and tasks of the procedures is more similar to a law. It is setting the system for so called “internal supervision of working environment” and describing the requirements towards risk assessment procedure as well as towards main documentation and stages of so called internal supervision. In a way these requirements are following the traditional approaches used by many countries worldwide that require setting of the OSH policy and elaboration of the OSH Action plan as this regulation to some extent is requiring the similar documentation with the expectation of officially recognised policy paper on OSH.

As opposed to strictly “in house” OSH services during the Soviet Union the possibility to use external OSH service (called Competent Authorities) has been introduced in the legislation. In some cases (that will be described further in the text) where companies are working in so-called dangerous industries use of external OSH services is compulsory with only some exceptions.

There are of course several other laws that are to some extend influencing the OSH system and therefore shall be mentioned. Most important laws in the area of OSH legislation are:

  1. The Law on Compulsory Social Insurance in Respect of Accidents at Work and Occupational Diseases [4].
  2. Law on Surveillance of Dangerous Equipment [5].
  3. Chemical Substances Law [6].
  4. Fire Safety and Fire-fighting Law [7].

The main ministry responsible for OSH policy in Latvia is the Ministry of Welfare (Labklājības Ministrija) and it’s Department of Labour Relations and OSH Policy [8]. The Ministry of Welfare is responsible for general overview of OSH policy in Latvia and fulfilment of obligations regarding state policy in the area of labour protection as they are described in article 23 of the Labour Protection Law. On the other hand control of the OSH system in practice is provided by the State Labour inspectorate (Valsts Darba inspekcija) [9].


National strategy

Requirements set by article 24 of the Labour Protection Law [1] foresee that the Ministry of Welfare shall formulate state policy in the field of labour protection and coordinate its implementation. Accordingly "Strategy for the Development of the Labour Protection Field 2016-2020" [10] has been developed and adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 20 January 2016. The Latvian OSH strategy was developed on the basis of the "EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020" especially in terms of overall targets and matching the strategic direction of EU strategic developments. The strategy has an extensive informative part describing the situation in the OSH area and sets certain objectives. The main objective of the strategy is a safe and healthy work environment that would promote job retention, the improvement of economic conditions and an increase of the level of welfare. The main objective of the labour protection policy is the creation of safe workplaces which also promote a prolongation of the working life of workers, improve the economic situation in the State and enterprises and increase the level of welfare of the whole society.

The following Action Directions have been set in order to achieve the policy objective and result:

  1. Public information;
  2. Promoting efficient introduction of the labour protection requirements;
  3. Promoting health protection of employed persons;
  4. Supervision and control of the field of the labour protection;
  5. Ensuring safe work environment within the framework of non-standard forms of employment, as well as in the work of self-employed persons.

There are several tasks accompanying the Action Directions:

  • Public information
    • To ensure increase in public awareness and level of understanding regarding labour protection issues, especially regarding working environment risk factors, and issues of labour rights, by facilitating the preventive culture.
    • To implement educating activities with a view to increase the level of knowledge of students of educational institutions regarding issues of labour protection and labour rights.
  • Promoting efficient introduction of the labour protection requirements
    • To ensure support for enterprises in the implementation of the labour protection requirements.
    • To implement training for the persons involved in the compliance with the labour protection requirements: employers, employees, labour protection specialists.
  • Promoting health protection of employed persons;
    • To facilitate improvement and updating the knowledge of physicians of occupational diseases and occupational health, general practitioners and other medical treatment persons regarding factors causing occupational diseases, timely diagnostics of occupational diseases and current issues in the field of occupational health.
    • To improve knowledge and skills of employees in the issues of health promotion at work.
    • To improve prevention, diagnostics and medical treatment of occupational diseases.
  • Supervision and control of the field of the labour protection;
    • To acquire additional information and data regarding the situation in the field of labour protection and labour rights.
    • To ensure efficient State supervision and control, by strengthening the capacity of the State Labour Inspectorate.

One specific feature of the strategy is that it is describing the situation and setting general objectives for the period of 2016-2020 but is not providing any detailed action plans. To provide more detailed activity plans there are supportive documents that have been adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers:

  1. Labor Protection Development Plan for 2016-2018 [11];
  2. Labor Protection Development Plan for 2019-2020 [1].

Social dialogue

Latvia has established a system of social dialogue at all levels (national, sectorial and company) #[link to OSHwiki main category OSH in general, subcategory Social Dialogue, article title Social dialogue in OSH, article code RO-11-04-8]# but social partnership, as an instrument of regulation for industrial relations does not have long lasting traditions and real power. Most actively social dialogue is developed in areas like social and economic policy and relations between employers and employees and only seldom extends to occupational safety and health. Former trade unions from the Soviet Union have failed to achieve high representation rates and workers involvement. While employers organisations are relatively recent in development and are joining only small percentage of employers. Current research data (Working conditions and risks in Latvia 2009-2010 [12]) shows that employees’ involvement is relatively low and social level at company level is rather low. Survey data shows that only 8.8% of companies have elected workers representatives, 2.4% have trade unions and 6.9% have employee’s trusties.

National system of social dialogue

At the national level the system for social dialogue is formally well developed since 1998 when the National Tripartite Collaboration Council was established by the Cabinet of Ministers [13]. It functions as part of the State Office under direct supervision of the Prime Minister and comprises a working group consisting of members of the Cabinet of Ministers and state secretaries of selected ministries, representatives of the Latvian Trade Union Confederation (Latvijas Brīvo arodbiedrību savienība) [14] and representatives of the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia (Latvijas Darba devēju konfederācija) [15]. The National Tripartite collaboration council has 8 sub-councils including council for labour issues.

The labour sub-council of the National Tripartite Collaboration Council works in accordance with their establishment regulations [16]. The main tasks of the labour sub-council is to promote collaboration of state, employers and employees in the area of occupational safety and health, legal issues of labour relations and equal opportunities in the area of labour rights. To achieve this sub-council has different functions including reconciliation of legal acts in the area of OSH.

Employers’ organizations

The Employers’ Confederation of Latvia (ECL) is the biggest organization representing the interests of employers and acts as a partner in socioeconomic negotiations with the Latvian Parliament (Saeima), the Cabinet of Ministers of Republic of Latvia and the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia. It currently unites 42 branch and regional associations and federations that represent significant number of Latvian employers. It is estimated that the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia is joining around 35% of employees.

Main objectives of the ECL are:

  1. To enhance effectiveness of entrepreneurship and employment development by taking into account the interests of society at large;
  2. To promote strengthening and development of the Latvian employers and their organizations;
  3. To enhance the growth of the Latvian employers, the development of enterprise culture and creation of favourable social conditions;
  4. To represent and protect economic, social and professional interests of its members in conformity with the Law on Employers’ Organizations and their Associations;
  5. To represent and defend its members’ interests in relations with trade unions, state and municipal institutions, as well as international employers’ organizations;
  6. To provide the ECL members with an opportunity to participate in discussion of issues of their interest at all government levels.

The Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Latvijas Tirdzniecības un rūpniecības kamera) [17] is a non-governmental, voluntary organisation uniting Latvian companies of different sectors. The aim of the organisation is to create favourable business environment, represent economic interests of Latvia's enterprises and offer business promotion services. The Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents business interests through a dialogue with national and local governments and participates in the drafting of commercial legislation in Latvia. The Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry joins members from all economic sectors. Regional offices of the association are operating in 7 regional cities of Latvia.

Trade union organizations

The Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14] is a confederation currently joining 20 sectorial trade unions and is the largest non-governmental organisation in Latvia coordinating the collaboration between independent trade unions representing and protecting the interests of its members in national and international institutions. The Latvian Trade Union Confederation was established in 1990. The purpose of the Latvian Trade Union Confederation is to protect the interests of trade union members. The main principle of trade unions work is solidarity and joint coordinated actions of the affiliates. The confederation represents its members' interests and protects their rights in the socio economic field. The Latvian Trade Union Confederation together with the government and the Latvian Employers' Confederation works in the National Tripartite Cooperation Council. The Latvian Trade Union Confederation observes the principles of social dialogue in cooperation with the social partners and also participates in the elaboration of economic and social development programmes. Also in the evaluation of draft laws, in working groups on improvement of labour conditions, salaries, tariff policies, compulsory social insurance and social guaranties, healthcare as well as employment, vocational education and lifelong learning.

Social dialogue at sectorial level

Social dialogue at sectorial level is not well developed in Latvia. As mentioned both of the employers’ organizations are representing employers of various sectors and to some extent are represented at regional level as well. The Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14] is more active at sectorial level. It has 20 different branch (sectorial) trade unions mostly uniting workers of particular sectors:

  • Federation of Trade Unions of Civil Aviation;
  • Nursing and Health Care Personnel Trade Union;
  • Trade Union of Construction Workers;
  • Road Workers Trade Union;
  • Railway Workers Trade Union;
  • Trade Union Energija;
  • Industrial Workers Trade Union;
  • Education and Science Workers Trade Union;
  • Trade Union Federation for People Engaged in Cultural Activities;
  • Trade Union of Agriculture and Food Industry Workers;
  • Forest Sphere Workers Trade Union;
  • Trade Union of Local Governments;
  • Trade Union of Public Service Employees LAKRS;
  • Communication Workers Trade Union;
  • Trade Union of Commerce;
  • Seafarers Union of Merchant Fleet;
  • Water Transport Trade Union Federation;
  • Trade Union of Employees of State Institutions, Self-governments and Finance Sector;
  • Unite Trade Union of Policemen;
  • Health and Social Care Workers Trade Union.

Social dialogue at enterprise level

Social dialogue at enterprise level in Latvia is legally well established, but thepractical implementation is lagging behind (see survey data above). General requirements on social dialogue are described in the Labour Protection Law [1] where definitions of terms like „consultations”, „representative of employees” and „trusted representatives” are provided. On the other hand legal opportunity for social dialogue is also foreseen by the Labour Law [2] providing opportunity for employees to elect representatives to protect their rights in the area of labour rights.

Current situation is providing good opportunity for workers to be involved in social dialogue but at the same time is rather confusing as there is confusion as there are various legal opportunities for social dialogue - the trade union representatives (trade union members working in particular company), representatives of employees (as referred to in the Labour Law) and trusted representatives (as referred to in the Labour Protection Law). In practice it could mean that within one company there could be both representation by trade union members and trusted representatives elected by workers.

Workers’ rights to be represented are guaranteed for enterprises employing more than 5 employees and the general requirement is that more than 50% of workers shall be represented in the election procedure.

An employer is obliged to ensure the necessary means to the trusted representatives and grant them the time during working hours for fulfillment of the obligations. The employer is also obliged to pay the trusted representative average earnings for this time. Another important aspect to improve the quality of social dialogue and involvement of workers is requirement to provide special training to trusted representatives. According to the Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters [18] employers have to provide 40 hours OSH training to elected trusted representatives.

Article 21 of the Labour Protection Law [1] describes in details rights of the trusted representatives including rights to express opinion, receive information, access workplaces and propose measures to improve working conditions. It is also important to note that according to the Labour Protection Law election of an employee as a trusted representative may not cause him unfavorable consequences or restrict in other way his or her rights.


OSH infrastructure

OSH infrastructure scheme

Figure 1: The OSH infrastructure in Latvia on an implementation level

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National competent bodies

OSH authorities and Inspection services

At present the leading role in the occupational safety and health system is played by the Ministry of Welfare [8] which is responsible for the development, planning and co-ordination of the OSH system and policy and by the State Labour Inspectorate [9] working under supervision of the Ministry which is the main supervisory and control institution in the field of OSH in Latvia.

Ministry of Welfare

The main tasks of the Ministry of Welfare in the field of occupational safety and health are following:

  • To develop the national policy of OSH and to facilitate its implementation;
  • To ensure elaboration of national OSH legislation and its compliance with the EU and international legal acts in this field;
  • To promote creation of safe and harmless working environment, protection of the employees’ right to occupational health and safety and social guarantees;
  • To facilitate the process of development of OSH administration system;
  • To promote informing of employers and employees on occupational safety and health issues.

In order to achieve these objectives the Ministry of Welfare is actively working together with several other institutions and social partners. The structure of the Ministry of Welfare is based on several departments of which the Department of Labour Relations and OSH Policy is responsible for OSH area. Several other departments are involved (like Social Insurance Department, Department of Labour Market policy etc.).

The Ministry of Welfare mainly collaborates with all the institutions under its supervision and authority, including the key institution for supervision and control of the occupational safety and health protection system – the State Labour Inspectorate. The Ministry also collaborates with social partners like the Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14] and the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia [15]. Collaboration is mostly accomplished during the process of elaboration of new OSH legislative acts. Representatives of the social partners are involved in the process as from the initial stages of drafting legislation providing opportunity for their contribution co-ordinate joint activities. The Department of Labour Relations and OSH Policy in collaboration with the State Labour Inspectorate is also responsible for coordination of proposals for the annual preventive action plan funded by the State Social Insurance Agency (Valsts Sociālās apdrošināšanas aģentūra) [19].

State Labour Inspectorate

The State Labour Inspectorate [9] is the key control and supervisory institution in the field of OSH operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare (it is the direct management authority). The legal status, function, tasks and the operational procedure of the State Labour Inspectorate is defined in the State Labour Inspectorate Law adopted on 19 June 2008 [20]. The State Labour Inspectorate is the only governmental institution that carries out the implementation of the policy in the field of labour legal relations and occupational safety and health. The State Labour Inspectorate carries out various activities to ensure that the Latvian population are socially and legally protected and could work in a safe working environment.

The State Labour Inspectorate has set following mission - to achieve observation of legislation on labour legal relations and occupational safety and health in Latvia in order to be established and maintained a safe, healthy working environment and proper legal labour relations, thereby reducing the number of occupational patients and victims of the accidents at work.

The State Labour Inspectorate has following main functions:

  • Supervise and control observance of the requirements of the regulatory enactments regarding labour legal relationships and OSH.
  • Control how employers and employees mutually fulfil the obligations set by employment contracts and collective labour agreements.
  • Provide free consultations to employers and employees on labour legal relations and OSH.

OSH services

Internal OSH services

The primary responsibility for ensuring proper working conditions in a company is carried out by the employer according to the Labour Protection Law [1]. According to the Latvian legislation the employer has to provide functioning OSH system at each undertaking with at least one employee #[link to OSHwiki main category OSH in general, subcategory What’s OSH, article title OSH services, article code RO-11-04-1]#. Such system shall include:

  • Internal supervision of the working environment, including evaluation of the working environment risks (risk assessment);
  • Establishment of an organisational structure of the OSH (providing necessary resources in terms of competent staff and other resources);
  • Consultations with employees in order to involve them in improvement of labour protection.

However the employer has the choice between setting up an internal OSH system or involving external OSH service, choosing combination of both is an option, too. There are certain conditions both for internal and external OSH services mostly in terms of training and competence required for individuals responsible for the OSH system.

To establish an internal OSH system the employer must take into account the number of employees in an undertaking and the type of activities he has to designate or hire (bring in) one or more OSH specialists for:

  • Non dangerous industries with up to 10 employees: Employer himself (with basic OSH training) or; designated employee (with basic OSH training) or; external OSH service or external OSH expert (voluntary).
  • Non dangerous industries with more than 10 employees: Designated employee (with basic OSH training) or; external OSH service or external OSH expert (voluntary).
  • Dangerous industries with up to 5 employees: Employer himself (with basic OSH training and industry specific training course) or; designated employee (with basic OSH training and industry specific training course) or; external OSH service or external OSH expert (voluntary).
  • Dangerous industries with 6 to 10 employees: Designated employee (with basic OSH training and industry specific training course) or; designated employee (with higher OSH training and industry specific training course) or; external OSH service or external OSH expert (voluntary).
  • Dangerous industries with more than 10 employees: Designated employee (with higher OSH training) or; external OSH service (obligatory when designated employee with higher level OSH training is not available).

So the basic requirement for a company that is working in the not so-called “non-dangerous industries or commercial activities” is either to train himself in accordance to the basic level of OSH specialist training (described in article 6) or to designate a worker from the company and to provide him/her with basic level of OSH specialist training. The same applies if the company is working in a dangerous industry and has up to 5 employees, but in this case additional training on industry specific OSH topics should be taken (article 6'). From 2013 there are new requirements regarding companies working in dangerous industries that are employing from 6 to 10 employees allowing the employer to designate a worker from the company that has undergone basic level OSH specialist training. Companies working in dangerous industries that are employing more than 10 employees must employ higher level OSH specialist (with employment contract) or involve external OSH service. In case if it is not possible for the employer to establish internal OSH service there is an option to involve external OSH service for any company even if it is voluntary according to company size or activity type.

The training system for OSH experts is described in the Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters [18] that defines 2 levels of training for OSH specialists that could be called basic level OSH specialists and higher-level OSH specialists (official term used is “labour protection specialist” for basic level training and “senior labour protection specialist” for higher level training). OSH training is described in more details in chapter II.

According to the Labour Protection Law [1] an employer shall grant the internal OSH specialist with the necessary means and time (within working hours) in order he or she may fulfill his or her obligations.

External OSH services

If it is not possible for the employer to establish an internal OSH service then there is the opportunity for the employer to involve external OSH services. In such case still there is an obligation to designate a special person at the company that will be responsible for assistance with external service.

It must be noted that for employer working in “non-dangerous industries or commercial activities” there is a choice between external OSH service and external OSH expert. For those companies working in “dangerous industries or commercial activities” only involvement of external OSH services is allowed.

The requirements for external OSH services (called Competent Authorities or “Kompetentās institūcijas” and external OSH experts (called Competent Specialists or “Kompetentie speciālisti”) are described in the Regulations Regarding the Requirements for Competent Authorities and Competent Specialists in Labour Protection Issues and the Procedures for Evaluating Competence [21]. The definitions of both the external OSH services and the external OSH experts are provided in Article 1 of the Labour Protection Law.

The main requirements for the external OSH services foresee that it must be officially announced using the official governmental newspaper “Latvijas vēstnesis” (Official newspaper of Latvian Republic) [22] after it has fulfilled following minimum requirements:

  • It meets requirements of Standard LVS EN ISO 9001 "Quality management systems - Requirements";
  • Liability of external service has been insured;
  • At least one OSH specialist with higher education and one physician of occupational medicine and health is employed.

Requirements for external OSH experts (Competent specialists) are also described in the same regulations [21].

This system requiring obligatory involvement of external OSH service is regulated by the Cabinet Regulations "Regulations regarding the Types of Commercial Activities in which an Employer shall involve a Competent Authority" [23] that sets the list “dangerous industries or commercial activities” (Annex 1 of the Regulation) and also describes the order of involvement of external OSH service and minimum services to be provided. Minimum services that shall be provided by the external OSH service are set to be following:

  • Evaluation of workplace risks (risk assessment);
  • Evaluation of compliance with the requirements of OSH and any other related legal requirements (e.g. fire safety etc.) of particular company;
  • Development of action plan (work plan) of necessary preventive actions to reduce the risks at workplaces.

External services for technical control

Control over specific work equipment causing higher risks (so called “dangerous equipment”) is not part of OSH system in Latvia. It is supervised by the Ministry of Economics (Ekonomikas Ministrija) [24] and the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (Patērētāju Tiesību aizsardzības centrs) [25]. The list of work equipment included regarded as dangerous is set by the the Cabinet Regulations "Regulations regarding Dangerous Equipment" [26] and there is a special order on how such equipment shall be registered and supervised described by the "Regulations on Registration of Dangerous Equipment” [27].

Compensation and insurance bodies

There is only one insurance and compensation body in Latvia as the social insurance system and accident insurance system is state owned #[link to OSHwiki main category OSH in general, subcategory Insurance, article title International comparison of occupations accident insurance systems RO-11-04-6]#. The system is provided by the State Social Insurance Agency [19] working under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare. The main functions of the State Social Insurance Agency include administration of the special social insurance budgets (including insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases) and the public social services. The State Social Insurance Agency also provides funding for preventive activities in the field of occupational health and safety. System for insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases is set by the Law on Compulsory Social Insurance in respect of Accidents at Work and Occupational Diseases [4]. The State Social Insurance Agency is handling the compensation system for occupational accidents and diseases. Generally every employee that is legally employed is insured against occupational accidents and diseases as small part of social tax is paid into special social insurance budget. If there is an occupational accident, it must be properly investigated and registered in the State Labour Inspectorate in accordance with the Cabinet Regulations "Procedures for Investigation and Registration of Accidents at Work" [28] #[link to OSHwiki main category OSH in general, subcategory Statistics, article title Reporting and monitoring occupational accidents and diseases in Europe, article code ERO-10-06 f5]#. Occupational diseases are recognised and registered by the Centre of Occupational and Radiation Medicine (Aroda un radiācijas medicīnas centrs) [29] in accordance with the Cabinet Regulations "Procedures on Investigation and Registration of Occupational Diseases" [30].

Other OSH bodies

Prevention Institutes

There are no official prevention institutions in the field of OSH in the traditional sense of the word. Currently the only institution that has governmental funding and functions is the Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (Darba drošības un vides veselības institūts) [31] of the Riga Stradiņš University that is an academic, scientific and training institution. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health has several functions including training for undergraduate and postgraduate students on topics, concerning occupational health and safety, occupational medicine and environmental health, research and expert services.

According to the "Law on Compulsory Social Insurance in respect of Accidents at Work and Occupational Diseases" [4] every year 0.5% of the special insurance budget is spent on preventive activities in the field of occupational health and safety. The annual plan is approved by the Information Board of the the Latvian Focal point for the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work which consists of competent representatives from the Ministry of Welfare, the State Labour Inspectorate, the Latvian Free Trade Union Federation, the Latvian Employers’ Confederation, as well as the Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health.[32] .

Professional associations

There are several professional associations in the field of occupational safety and health however currently the only association for occupational health and medicine specialists is actively working.

The Association of Latvian Occupational Physicians (Latvijas arodslimību ārstu biedrība) [33] is joining more than 400 occupational health and medicine doctors and is responsible for updating training for its members as well as certification and re-certification of occupational health and medicine doctors.

The Latvian Association of Occupational Health and Safety Experts (Latvijas darba aizsardzības speciālistu asociācija) [34] is joining both basic level and higher-level OSH experts working across various industries. The association is responsible for provision of information to its members and for preparation of test materials for re-certification system of higher-level OSH specialists that are working as so called “competent specialists” in accordance with the Cabinet Regulations "Regulations Regarding the Requirements for Competent Authorities and Competent Specialists in Labour Protection Issues and the Procedures for Evaluating Competence" [21].

The Latvian Association of Association of competent institutions in OSH (Darba aizsardzības kompetento institūciju biedrība) [35] is joining several companies offering external services in OSH. The main tast of the association is to promote business environment in OSH and fire safety, provide awareness raising events for employers in OSH and fire safety and explain legal requirements for members.

Education, training and awareness rising

Legally required training for OSH specialists

The training system for OSH specialists is described in the Cabinet Regulations "Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters" [18] that defines 2 levels of training for OSH:

  • So called basic level OSH specialists.
  • So called higher-level OSH specialists.

Basic level training is provided by accredited training centres using licensed training programmes (either training with duration of 160 hours including at least 50 hour of theoretical training (until 01.07.2013.) or training with duration of 60 hours including at least 40 hours of theoretical training with requirement for additional training about “dangerous industries” with duration of 40 hours if specialists will be employed in company working in one of dangerous industries (from 01.07.2013.)). The accreditation of the training centres is provided by the State Education Development Agency (Valsts izglītības attīstības aģentūra) [36] that keep the database of accredited centres. The training programme includes variety of subjects like:

  • Organization of OSH at company level.
  • Risk assessment at workplaces.
  • Main workplace risk factors (e.g. noise, vibration, chemical risks etc.).
  • First aid (emergency) provision at workplaces.
  • Basic requirements of fire safety.
  • Basic requirements of electrical safety.
  • Basic principles of labour legislation.

Higher-level training is provided by higher vocational educational study programmes accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science (Izglītības un Zinātnes ministrija) [37]. Accreditation is obtained if they are prepared in conformity with the Professional Standards “Labour Protection Specialist” (40 credits) or “Senior Labour Protection Specialist” (80 credits). The higher-level training programmes are provided at University level training courses typical length being 2 years (most of the universities offer it as master degree training). So in general this training is more detailed even though it contains in principle similar topics like basic level training. Basic principles of environmental health and safety, emergency preparedness, management issues etc are also included. Specialists that have obtained this training are typically employed by external OSH services or work for large companies.

Other vocational training

Employers (employer's representatives)

In Latvia there are no official requirements for training of employers. There are also no requirements for specific competences in order to establish a new company or to take any administrative position within any undertaking. The only requirement on training for employers is the general obligation to undergo OSH training at company that is obligatory for any worker.

OSH coordinators

Training required for OSH coordinators is almost the same as required for basic level OSH specialists. Exception is that only the theoretical part is required in amount of 60 hours as prescribed by Cabinet Regulations "Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters" [18].

Workers operating potentially dangerous equipment

According to current requirements training for workers that operate potentially dangerous equipment are similar to that of any other workers at companies (see 4.3.5). There are no special requirements for such training apart from that some specific information is required regarding the dangerous equipment used.

Training and instruction of workers

The general provisions for training and safety and health instructions for workers are set by the Labour Protection Law [1] that states that each employee shall receive instructions and training directly relating to his or her workplace and work tasks. The Law also states that training shall be carried out before recruitment and in instances when working conditions, work equipment or technologies are changing. Then the training shall be repeated periodically. Another important requirement is that employer’s duty is to ensure that training shall be understandable to employees taking into consideration the education, previous training, work experience and skills of the employee as well as the specific nature of the undertaking.

Details of OSH training for employees are described in Cabinet Regulations "Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters" [18]. It is foreseen that there are following types of workers training shall be provided:

  • Introductory training.
  • Training at the work place: initial – upon commencing work; periodic – in the course of work; unplanned training; special purpose training.
  • Thematic training regarding a particular OSH matters.

The Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters [18] provides detailed information on what information shall be included both in introductory training and training at the workplace. It is prescribed that the deadline for periodic training shall be 1 year for most of workers and 6 months for those working with dangerous equipment or in work tasks that are particularly dangerous.

Awareness raising networks

The only active awareness network is currently organised by the Focal Point of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Latvian Focal Point is run by the State Labour Inspectorate [9] and the Information Board (Eiropas darba drošības un veselības aizsardzības organizācija Kontaktpunkta Latvijā Informācijas Padome) [32] that comprises members of policy makers (the Ministry of Welfare [8]), social partners (Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14], Employers’ Confederation of Latvia [15]) and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health [31]. The Information Board is coordinating activities in the area of awareness rising from its members and also of preventive activities in the field of occupational health and safety that are supported from a special budget of insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases supported by the State Social Insurance Agency [19]. Information board members are responsible for information spreading on various OSH topics.

Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

The Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health [31] is leading research institution in the field of OSH in Latvia both in terms of experience, projects and publications. The Institute is part of the Riga Stradiņš University, which is not only a research institute but rather a combination of academic, scientific and training institution. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health has several functions including training for undergraduate and postgraduate students on topics, concerning occupational health and safety, occupational medicine and environmental health, research and expert services. In the field of OSH research its current activities are mostly targeted to research in effects of well-established OSH risks like welding fumes, noise and vibration and also on new and emerging factors like ultra-fine particles and psychosocial and organizational risks.

Some research activities are also done by the Faculty of Chemistry of the Latvian University (Latvijas universitātes Ķīmijas fakultāte) [38]. Their recent research includes studies both in the area of chemical risks but also ergonomic and organizational factors of workplaces.

Also the Institute of Occupational Safety and Civil Defence under the Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management of the Riga Technical University (Rīgas Tehniskās universitātes Inženierekonomikas fakultātes Darba un civilās aizsardzības institūts) [39] is doing some research in the area of OSH thought mostly focusing on civil protection and fire safety.

Some research mostly on woodworking and forestry safety and accidents is also done by the Forest Faculty of the Latvian Agriculture University (Latvijas Lauksaimniecības universitātes Meža fakultāte) [40].

Standardization agencies

Latvian national standardisation body the Latvian Standard (Standartizācijas birojs) [41] is one of three independent agencies operating as part of limited liability company the Standardization, Accreditation and Metrology Centre (SIA „Standartizācijas, akreditācijas un metroloģijas centrs”). It works in accordance with the Standardisation Law [42]. It carries out its specific functions that are:

  • To organize development of the Latvian national standards in standardization technical committees;
  • To adapt all the standards published by European standardization bodies and international standards which are essential for the national economy;
  • To ensure a stock formation of standards and related documents, the stock maintenance and amendment, as well as information dissemination in the field of standardization;
  • To participate in the work of international and regional standardization bodies.


Institutions and organizations

Main OSH institutions and organisations in Latvia:

Key actors in the Latvian OSH dialogue
State Labour Inspectorate [9]
Ministry of Welfare [8]
Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health [31]
Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14]
Employers’ Confederation of Latvia [15]

Key social partners in the Latvian OSH field
Latvian Trade Union Confederation [14]
Employers’ Confederation of Latvia [15]

Federal OSH authorities and inspection services
State Labour Inspectorate [9]

Key compensation and insurance bodies
State Social Insurance Agency [19]

Key prevention institutes
State Labour Inspectorate [9]
Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health of the Riga Stradiņš University [31]

Key professional associations
Association of Latvian occupational physicians [33]
Latvian association of occupational health and safety experts [34]

Association of competent institutions in OSH [35]

Key research institutes
Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health of the Riga Stradiņš University [31]
Faculty of Chemistry of the Latvian University [38]
Institute of Occupational Safety and Civil Defence of the Riga Technical University [39]
Forest Faculty of the Latvian Agriculture University [40]

Key standardisation body
Latvian Standard [41]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Labour Protection Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 20 June 2001. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=26020 (the translated version is available on the right side under the name "Tulkojums")
  2. 2.0 2.1 Labour Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 20 June 2001. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=26019 (the translated version is available on the right side under the name "Tulkojums")
  3. Procedures for the Performance of Internal Supervision of the Work Environment, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 2 October 2007. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=164271 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojums")
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Law on Compulsory Social Insurance in Respect of Accidents at Work and Occupational Diseases, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 2 November 1995. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=37968 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  5. Law on Surveillance of Dangerous Equipment, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 24 September 1998. Available in Latvian at: http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=50117 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  6. Chemical Substances and Chemical Products Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 1 April 1998. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=47839 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi")
  7. Fire Safety and Fire-fighting Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 24 October 2002. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=68293 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Ministry of Welfare (2017). Home page. Retrieved 12 July 2017, from: http://www.lm.gov.lv
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 State Labour Inspection (2017). Home page. Retrieved 12 July 2017, from: http://www.vdi.gov.lv
  10. Par Darba aizsardzības politikas pamatnostādnēm 2016 -2020 gadam (Strategy for the Development of the Labour Protection Field 2016-2020). Available at: https://likumi.lv/ta/id/279509-par-darba-aizsardzibas-politikas-pamatnostadnem-2016-2020-gadam
  11. Labor Protection Development Plan for 2016-201, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers in 2016 (in Latvian). Available at: Darba aizsardzības jomas attīstības plāns 2016.–2018.gadam
  12. LDDK – Employers’ Confederation of Latvia, Working Conditions and Risks in Latvia 2009-2010, Riga, 2010, p. 122 (in Latvian). Available at: http://www.lddk.lv/file.php?id=320
  13. Regulation of National Tripartite Collaboration Council, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 30 October 1998 (in Latvian). Available at: http://www.mk.gov.lv/file/files/valsts_kanceleja/NTSP/ntsp_nolikums.doc
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Latvian Trade Union Confederation (2012). Home page. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.lbas.lv
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Employers’ Confederation of Latvia (2012). Home page. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.lddk.lv
  16. Regulation of Labour Sub Council of National Tripartite Collaboration Council, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 March 2000 (in Latvian). Available at: http://www.mk.gov.lv/file/files/valsts_kanceleja/NTSP/2011/dltsa_nolikums.doc
  17. Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2012). Home page. Retrieved 18 June 2012, from: http://www.chamber.lv
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 Regulations Regarding Training in Labour Protection Matters, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 10 August 2010. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=214922 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 State Social Insurance Agency (2012). Home page. Retrieved 20 June 2012, from: http://www.vsaa.lv
  20. State Labour Inspection Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 19June 2008. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=177910 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi")
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Regulations Regarding the Requirements for Competent Authorities and Competent Specialists in Labour Protection Issues and the Procedures for Evaluating Competence, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 8 September 2008. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=181060 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  22. Latvijas Vēstnesis (Official newspaper of Latvian Republic) (2012). Home page. Retrieved 15 June 2012, from: http://www.latvijasvestnesis.lv
  23. Regulations regarding the Types of Commercial Activities in which an Employer shall Involve a Competent Authority, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 2 February 2005. Available in Latvian at: https://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=101364 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi").
  24. Ministry of Economics (2012). Home page. Retrieved 22 June 2012, from: http://www.em.gov.lv
  25. Consumer Rights Protection Centre (2012). Home page. Retrieved 22 June 2012, from: http://www.ptac.gov.lv
  26. Regulations regarding Dangerous Equipment, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 7 November 2000. Available at: http://www.vvc.gov.lv/export/sites/default/docs/LRTA/MK_Noteikumi/Cab._Reg._No._384_-_Regulations_regarding_Dangerous_Equipment.doc
  27. Regulations on Registration of Dangerous Equipment, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 17 November 2009 (in Latvian). Available at: http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=200936
  28. Procedures for Investigation and Registration of Accidents at Work, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 25 August 2009. Available at: http://www.vvc.gov.lv/export/sites/default/docs/LRTA/MK_Noteikumi/Cab._Reg._No._950_-_Investigation_and_Registration_of_Accidents_at_Work.doc
  29. Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital (2012). Centre of Occupational and Radiation Medicine. Retrieved 2 July 2012, from: http://www.stradini.lv/page/264
  30. Procedures on Investigation and Registration of Occupational Diseases, adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 06 November 2006. Availablein Latvian at: http://www.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=147550 (translation available on the right side under the name "Tulkojumi")
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 31.5 Institute of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (2012). Home page. Retrieved 2 July 2012, from: http://www.rsu.lv/ddvvi
  32. 32.0 32.1 Information Board (2017) http://osha.lv/en/about/ip.stm. Page retrieved on July 12, 2017.
  33. 33.0 33.1 Association of Latvian Occupational Physicians (2012). Home page. Retrieved 2 July 2012, from: http://www.arodslimibas.lv
  34. 34.0 34.1 Latvian Association of Occupational Health and Safety Experts (2012). Home page. Retrieved 2 July 2012, from: http://www.ldasa.lv
  35. 35.0 35.1 http://dakib.lv/. Page retreived July 12, 2017.
  36. State Education Development Agency (2012). Home page. Retrieved 5 July 2012, from: http://www.viia.gov.lv
  37. Ministry of Education and Science (2012). Home page. Retrieved 5 July 2012, from: http://www.izm.gov.lv
  38. 38.0 38.1 Latvian University (2012). Faculty of Chemistry. Retrieved 3 July 2012, from: http://www.lu.lv/fakultates/kf/
  39. 39.0 39.1 Riga Technical University (2012). Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management. Retrieved 3 July 2012, from: http://www.rtu.lv/en/content/view/885/1112/lang,en/
  40. 40.0 40.1 Latvian Agriculture University (2012). Forest Faculty. Retrieved 3 July 2012, from: http://eng.llu.lv/?ri=4549
  41. 41.0 41.1 Latvian Standard (2012). Home page. Retrieved 9 July 2012, from: http://www.lvs.lv
  42. Standardisation Law, adopted by the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) on 14 October 1998. Available at: http://www.vvc.gov.lv/export/sites/default/docs/LRTA/Likumi/Standardisation_Law_.doc

Links for further reading

Ministry of Welfare, Working Conditions and Risks in Latvia 2005–2006. Survey report, Riga, 2007. In Latvian available at: http://www.lm.gov.lv/upload/darba_tirgus/darba_aizsardziba/darba_apstakli_un_riski_latvija.pdf; In English available at: http://www.lm.gov.lv/upload/darba_tirgus/darba_aizsardziba/work_cond_lv_2006_en.pdf

LDDK – Employers’ Confederation of Latvia, Working Conditions and Risks in Latvia 2009-2010, Riga, 2010, p. 122 (in Latvian). Available at: http://www.lddk.lv/file.php?id=320

LDDK – Employers’ Confederation of Latvia, Working Conditions and Risks in Latvia 2012-2013, Riga, 2013, p. 138. In Latvian available at: http://stradavesels.lv/Uploads/2014/07/18/Darba_apstakli_un_riski_Latvija_2012_2013.pdf.in English available at: http://stradavesels.lv/Uploads/2014/07/18/Work_conditions_and_risks_in_Latvia_2012_2013.pdf