OSH system at national level - Hungary

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Ferenc Kudász, Imre Nagy, Károly Nagy National Public Health Institute;
Péter Nesztinger, Ministry for National Economy;
Gyula Szabó, Óbuda University

Occupational safety and health legislative framework

The Fundamental Law adopted in 2011 especially mentions that besides the right to physical and mental health "every employee has the right to working conditions that respect their health, safety and dignity". The country enforces this – among other things – by organizing occupational safety and health care. [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 [2] forms the basis of the highest level national occupational safety and health legal regulation, the No. 93/1993 Act on Occupational Safety and Health (munkavédelmi törvény) [3]. It states in the final provisions that – among other things – it contains a regulation compatible with the Framework Directive. The Union directives containing occupational safety and health topics also got implemented into national legal regulations same as the Framework Directive. In accordance with the EU regulation, harmonised standards are effective in Hungary too, although many times they have not been translated into Hungarian.

Unified occupational safety and health includes the occupational safety and the occupational health care system in Hungary too. With regards to occupational health care the No. 154/1997 Act on health care (Egészségügyi Törvény) [4] lays down the medical professional goals and tasks of occupational health care. Besides occupational safety requirements, the OSH Act defines the system of the legal regulation, organisation, institutional regulations concerning occupational health care requirements and the tasks thereof to be executed by the employers. According to both acts occupational health care embraces the professional fields of work hygiene and occupational medicine. There are implementing decrees belonging to the acts, in which the localization of relevant European directives can be found.

Principles of the Act on OSH:

  • OSH requirements defined in a tripartite way,
  • the objective responsibility of the employer to realise the requirements of safe working activities that do not endanger health,
  • the co-operation obligation of interested parties,
  • the employer’s freedom of choice – within the limitations of legal regulations and standards,
  • the irreversibility of relevant costs of the employer to the employees.

It is the duty of the employer to form a unified and comprehensive prevention strategy. The employer must have a risk assessment, this way the employer must strive to tackle risks or to eliminate them at the source; including replacing dangerous items with harmless or less dangerous ones and the priority of collective technical protection over personal protection. It is the duty of the employer to prepare the proper documentation and the occupational safety and health education of the employees.

The law is effective in Hungary for every case of organised working activities, independent from its institutional nature or property form. Furthermore it extends to persons within the reach of work activities.

The employer shall not give financial or other compensation to the employee instead of performing the requirements of safe working activities that do not endanger health. This means that the employer must not give a higher salary (or other bonuses) instead of minimising the hazards at work.

The law defines

  • the requirements of installation of workplaces,
  • the principles of OSH commissioning (putting into operation - from OSH perspectives),
  • the material and human resource preconditions of activities at work,
  • the requirements concerning work processes, technologies and materials.

The employer is obliged to employ person(s) or utilise services that posses the required vocational qualification while ensuring adequate circumstances to perform the employer's task of ensuring safe working activities that do not endanger health.

Most important legal materials:[5]

  • Act 93/1993 on Occupational Safety and Health [3] and its implementation decree [6]
  • Act 154/1997 on Health Care [4]
  • Act 1/2012 on the Labour Code [7]
  • Act 48/1993 on Mining [8]
  • Act 25/2000 on Chemical Safety [9]

National strategy and programmes

National strategy

Following lenghty discussions, unreleased drafts[10] and years without national strategy, the National Occupational Safety and Health Policy[11] was issued in 2016 as a Goverment decree[12]. The Policy sets out Hungary’s occupational safety and health priorities for the period of 2016-2022 in line with the EU’s current 2014-2020 strategy for health and safety at work and WHO Global Action Plan. Following a brief overview, it enlists out task in these five dimension: Developing the competitiveness of enterprises; Maintaining the working capacity of employees; Occupational safety and health training and education; Information, communication; Occupational safety and health research and development. The implementation plan was developed[13] but no details are available concerning the milestones, deadlines, responsibles and budget allocated.

The priorities of the strategy are defined in accordance with the explicit objective of developing practices to protect workers by preserving their ability to work, maintaining safety and health standards and increasing the number of healthy years in a worker’s lifetime. It takes into account the recognition and effective management of risks arising from conventional hazards, as well as new and emerging risks. The main objectives of the strategy are:

  • To reduce risks that represent a threat to safety and health of employees. Prevention is seen as the only option for avoiding accidents at work and occupational diseases.
  • To ensure that occupational safety and health development contributes to greater productivity, competitiveness and carrying capacity of society, as well as to the preservation of a high-quality workforce. The improvement of working conditions is emphasised.
Table 1. National Occupational Safety and Health Policy 2016-2022
Supporting introduction of free online tools to be used to carry out occupational safety and health tasks
Encouraging the development of an effective occupational safety and health management system
Communication of good practices and promotion of adoption
Developing a concept for accident insurance within the scope of social security
Reducing absence from work as a result of psychosocial risks
Encouraging research to determine work-related musculoskeletal disorders and work-related cancer, and promoting research results
Encouraging and supporting the elaboration of new methods of ergonomics
Elaborating a mandatory further training system for occupational safety and health professionals
Expanding knowledge on safety and health and chemical safety at work in education
Reducing occupational risks affecting employees of vulnerable groups and employees working in atypical types of employment
Preparing information and publications promoting safe and healthy employment
Regular distribution of timely and professional information targeted at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with the involvement of the public information system of occupational safety and health
Supporting the publication of research results relating to occupational safety and health
Statistical data collection and development of the information base
Encouraging research on the impacts of climate change on employees
Coping with the increasing average age of employees and analysis of the impact of newly emerging risks
Establishing a database of occupational safety and health service providers
Establishing a database of occupational health service providers
Improving the professional and operational conditions of the integrated occupational safety and health authority
Developing cooperation among organisations interested in maintaining safe and healthy working conditions and lawful employment
Introduction and development of a risk-based inspection strategy
Complex evaluation of all 24 directives comprising Hungarian legislation on occupational safety and health and simplification of existing laws and regulations

Source: National Occupational Safety and Health Policy 2016-2022 [11]

National OSH programmes

Co-operation for the safety of workplaces (Együttműködés a munkahelyek biztonságáért)[14]

The Labour Inspectorate launched a partnership programme in 2006, wherein occupational safety and health aspects were considered besides of legal employment. This programme continues from fall 2016 under the name Co-operation for the safety of workplaces. Enterpises that join get professional aid from the Ministry for National Economy, invitation to open days, priority access to authority communications, amongst others.

Social Renewal Operational Programme (TÁMOP) 2.4.8-12[15]

With the support of the European Social Fund a major occupational safety and health and labour development took place in 2012-2015. Major elements included the development of inspection, the development of occupational health and the addressing of the society. Inspecting authorities had special professional training courses, the inspection processes were set to digital grounds, the capacity of support to policy-making and analysis was reinforced, several instruments were procured. A social awareness raising campaign was conducted.

Economic Development and Innovation Operational Programme (GINOP) 5.3.4-16[16]

In 2016, co-financed by the European Social Fund and Hungary, tenders were invited in the fields of amelioration of working environment, development of safety and health at work and targeted informing employees and employers on occupational safety and health. Results are expected later.

Social dialogue

Several legal regulations have been modified with the acceptance of the Fundamental Law, which also affects the framework of the social dialogue concerning OSH. National, sectoral and enterprise level OSH cooperation institutions that have significant traditions continued their transformation in 2014-15.

Social dialogue at national level

Two panels can be identified on the national level of reconciliation concerning OSH. The National Economy and Social Council (Nemzeti Gazdasági és Társadalmi Tanács) deals with long-term effects, it has many participants but the government side is not involved. The OSH Committee (Munkavédelmi Bizottság) that has a classical tripartite composition deals with practical aspects concerning occupational safety and health.

  1. Act 93/2011 on the National Economic and Social Council (Nemzeti Gazdasági és Társadalmi Tanács) [17] transformed the earlier, continuously operating, most comprehensive national tripartite reconciliatory forum (National Reconciliatory Council – Országos Érdekegyeztető Tanács) of macro level consultations and negotiations between national trade unions on one part, federations of employers on another and the Government on the third. The new Council has five participants: (i) association of employers and employees, and confederations, (ii) national economic chambers, (iii) civilian organisations working in the field of national politics, (iv) the churches, and (v) representatives of sciences. The Council is a consultation, proposal-making and counselling panel, independent from the Parliament and the Government. It was created to discuss topics concerning the development of economy and society, and national strategies that span through government cycles, and to elaborate and realise harmonised and balanced economic development and social models in connection to it.
  2. Based on the Act on OSH the national reconciliation concerning safe and healthy working activities is done by the OSH Committee (Munkavédelmi Bizottság). It is made up of representatives delegated by the Government and the associations of employers and employees and operates according to its own regulations. The Committee (that operates as a negotiation group) evaluates the basic rules of OSH (legal regulation concepts, drafts), reports and programmes, helps the effective settlement of OSH issues and the performance of the regulations with proposals, it is also their task to inform the public. It participates in the creation, evaluation and supervision of annual executive plans and schedules serving the national policy of OSH and its execution; makes decisions in issues concerning the definition of knowledge regarding safe lifestyle in the field of education and regarding the rules of safe and healthy working activities in the field of vocational training; helps the operation of the OSH information system, if required. Its goals are to discover, reconcile the interests, efforts of the employees, the employers and the government, create agreements, prevent and settle national conflicts, exchange information, analyse suggestions, alternatives.

The OSH Committee (Munkavédelmi Bizottság) does not have its own operative resources; its secretarial tasks are done within the professional control organization of the OSH authority, which is the Ministry for National Economy. As members with full rights, the associations of employees and employers have a constant representation in the employee and employer negotiating group. Besides the delegates of the ministries, the representatives of the mining supervision, the public health administrative authority, the central health insurance authority and the central OSH authority also participate. Each member delegate a representative, furthermore, from the representatives each social negotiating group elects a rapporteur, they coordinate the work of the negotiating groups.

Presently, every association can delegate a member in the social negotiating group, thus the number of participants depends on the number of associations; in earlier times social partners having representation in the National Reconciliatory Council could participate with constant representation.

The social partners include:
The Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists (Munkaadók és Gyáriparosok Országos Szövetsége – MGYOSZ)[18] is a national, economic, employers’ association, which is organised through voluntary membership. Its goal is to provide such an advocacy and lobbying activity that helps the realisation of economic and employers’ interests and creates representation for the capital operating in Hungary as well. It is a defining participant of the tripartite reconciliation process.

The National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers (Vállalkozók és Munkáltatók Országos Szövetsége – VOSZ)[19] represents the interests of the capital operating in Hungary and the entrepreneurs, managers operating it. It cooperates with its social partners: the associations of employers and employees, social and economic organisations and the relevant governing bodies.

The National Association of Agricultural Associates and Producers (Mezőgazdasági Szövetkezők és Termelők Országos Szövetsége – MOSZ)[20] is an economic, employers’ and cooperative association operating in the field of agriculture. It participates in the reconciliatory work concerning social policy, wage and labour issues, income policy and other issues concerning its members on the side of the employers. It is a founding member of the Social Dialogue Committee of the Agricultural Sector (Mezőgazdasági Ágazati Párbeszéd Bizottság).

The National Confederation of Workers’ Councils (Munkástanácsok Országos Szövetsége)[21] is the most significant national trade union association that has a Christian spirituality. It represents employees on national reconciliatory forums, strives for agreements with its social partners on different levels of these forums.

The Hungarian Trade Union Confederation (Magyar Szakszervezeti Szövetség – MSZSZ)[22] was created in 2013 with the aim of promotion and protection of the employment related interests of the members in its member trade unions (MSZOSZ, ASZSZ) and the comprehensive representation and advocacy of current, future and former employees' social, economical and cultural interest.

The Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (Liga Szakszervezetek)[23] has the main objective to upgrade the life and work conditions, social safety of employees - employed in the competitive sphere and the public services - with the full inventory of the democratic system of institutions provided for the trade unions.

The Forum for the Co-operation of Trade Unions (Szakszervezetek Együttműködési Fóruma – SZEF)[24] is the confederation of trade unions of workers employed in public education, health and social care, the judiciary, public collections, cultural and artistic institutions. It aims to enhance the appeal and public reputation of public service and increase the employment safety of workers therein.

The Confederation of Unions of Professionals (Értelmiségi Szakszervezetek Tömörülése – ÉSZT)[25] represents the interests of the membership of its member organisations in issues related to the world of employment before state and employers' organisations, and on reconciliatory forums. It cooperates with other civilian organisations of society, especially those operating in the field of employment.

The Hungarian Industrial Association (Magyar Iparszövetség - OKISZ)[26] is a national social organisation of employers voluntarily formed by its member associations in order to represent and protect social and economic interests of its members. The economic organizations belonging to the scope of interest of the Hungarian Industrial Association are mostly micro-, small and medium size enterprises.

The Hungarian Association of Craftmen's Corporation (Ipartestületek Országos Szövetsége - IPOSZ)[27] is the largest national employer and professional organisation of Hungarian micro and small-sized enterprises, and crafts, that functions as umbrella organisation of 198 independent craftsmen's corporations. IPOSZ represents the interests of crafts, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (family businesses) as employers at various forums and provides various services to its members.

The National Association of Strategic and Public Utility Companies (Stratégiai és Közszolgáltató Társaságok Országos Szövetsége - STRATOSZ)[28] aims the national representation of the economic interests of strategic important public service companies (telecommunication, road and railway traffic, energy, water management, the media, etc.). STRATOSZ wants to play an active and initiative role in the forums of national and international Social Dialogue.

The Employers' Alliance in Agriculture (Agrár Munkaadói Szövetség) was launched as the successor of the Agricultural Chamber. It consists of professional associations, private entrepreneurs, business organisations, educational institutions, agricultural research and development bodies, water management associations, regional agricultural producers, farmers.

Social dialogue at sectoral level

Presently, the defining place of collective negotiations in Hungary – due to several, mostly historical causes – is at the enterprise level, so the number of sectoral collective agreements is low [29].

The creation of sectoral dialogue committees started in 2001 with PHARE support, and now they operate on the basis of Act 74/2009 on sectoral social dialogue committees and certain issues of the intermediate level social dialogue [30]. The sectoral dialogue committee is a body conducting bilateral social dialogue with the participation of sectoral employers’ associations and sectoral trade unions in questions having significance for the entire sector concerning labour issues relations and employment. Only one committee can be organized in a sector, subsector, and class. The task of the sectoral social dialogue committees is to facilitate the balanced development of the sector, the realization of sectoral level autonomous social dialogue, the goal of which is to create appropriate working conditions, preserving the peace of labour, and to facilitate the legality of work force market processes. Besides respecting the independence of social partners the Government ensures the infrastructural conditions of the operation of the sectoral social dialogue committees and the employment of employees helping their activity, and supports the professional programmes of sectoral social dialogue committees.

Social dialogue at enterprise level

The institution of the OSH representation defined in the Act on OSH [31] – besides the option of the employees at their place of work to practice their right to discuss issues directly - guarantees indirect representation as well. Employees have the right to assign safety and health representatives (munkavédelmi képviselő), a health and safety committee (munkahelyi munkavédelmi bizottság), a parity OSH body for the representation of their interests and for the appropriate practice of their OSH rights and obligations (informing and requesting information, participation, voicing opinions, making suggestions, consulting with experts and the option to prepare notes for the OSH inspection authority).

It is mandatory to hold a safety and health representative election if the number of employed personnel reaches 50; below that number it can be initiated by the trade union or works council operating at the employer. If none is available, the majority of the workers can initiate the election. The safety and health representative is entitled to special rights (introspection, evaluation, right to answer, working time reduction, legal protection, training). It is the task of the safety and health representative to represent employees in issues concerning OSH: cooperation with the employer, supervision of the performance of OSH regulations, initiating the readjustment of deficiencies, participation in the elaboration of a prevention plan and in the inspection of accidents at work and occupational diseases. If the number of safety and health representatives reaches three, they can form a health and safety committee that is entitled to the same rights representatives have.

In the case of employers where the number of employed personnel reaches at least fifty and safety and health representatives operate, the employer forms a parity OSH body (paritásos munkavédelmi testület) on a total payroll level, in which representatives of the employees (through election) and of the employer (delegated) participate in equal number. Among the latter there must be an OSH expert having a post entitling them to make decisions and being in a legal relationship with the employer aiming at organised working activity.

If no OSH representative is elected, the employer is obliged to negotiate with the employees directly.

OSH infrastructure

OSH infrastructure scheme

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

Source: Overview by the authors

National competent bodies

OSH authorities and Inspection services

Legislation
Organising OSH is a state task by controlling OSH and performing the sectoral and authoritative activities. The task of the Parliament, the Government and sectoral ministers is primarily to create the legal environment purporting to OSH. Public administration tasks in OSH belong to the minister responsible for employment policy, and the county-seat/capital district offices that are fulfilling OSH tasks for the regional/capital government offices.[32] Certain occupational health tasks of district offices are directed by the Ministry of Human Capacities (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma – EMMI).[33] Except for the period of 2007-2014, controll of OSH has always been divided between the ministries responsible for employment policies and for health, which division is true at the moment. Local OSH tasks are performed by the concerned departments of the goverment offices, which are nunder the controll of the Prime Minister's Office. In general, the district offices of regional government offices act in the first instance in the frame of performing the authoritative activity.

Ministry for National Economy (Nemzetgazdasági Minisztérium – NGM)[34]
The minister responsible for employment policy professionally controlls the authority OSH inspection activities of the district offices of the goverment offices that are acting as OSH authority. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Munkavédelmi Főosztály) is within the State Secretariat for Vocational Training and the Labour Market (Munkaerőpiacért és Képzésért Felelős Államtitkárság). The Department performs legislative, coordination and functional activities. The most important tasks are the authoritative and professional control, state control and supervision tasks related to occupational safety, data collection and statistical analysis. Furthermore, it informs and counsels the public about issues concerning occupational safety and health. The Department performs certain authority activities as occupational safety expert and operates the information technology system of the OSH authority. In addition to this, the Department participates in national and international committees and operates the Hungarian Focal Point of the European Union Agency for Safety and Health at Work (Európai Unió Munkavédelmi Ügynöksége - Magyar Fókuszpont). [35]

National Public Health Institute (Országos Közegészségügyi Intézet – OKI)[36]
The National Public Health Institute (Országos Közegészségügyi Intézet – OKI) is the background institution of the ministry responsible for health (EMMI), which was founded by merging other institutes (National Centre for Epidemiology – OEK, National Public Health Center – OKK, Office of the Chief Medical Officer – OTH), delegating task to the Ministry and reducing personnel.[37] Its Occupational Health Directorate (Munkahigiénés és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Igazgatóság – MFI) is the successor of the National Institute of Occupational Health (Országos Munkahigiénés és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Intézet – OMFI). The Directorate professionally controls the field of occupational health (occupational medicine and work hygiene), being the organisational part of OKI, who is the body granted with national occupational health powers. Most important tasks in the (i) professional control, (ii) expertise, (iii) training, further education, information provision, (iv) international professional fields are: development of standard protocols, giving background support and expertise, activities specified in legislation, assessment and analysis, (further)education, publication of professional journals, and international co-operation. In addition to this, the Directorate performs laboratory measurements and special medical examinations.[38]

Metropolitan and County Government Offices (Fővárosi és Megyei Kormányhivatalok)[39]
The organisation of metropolitan and county government agencies belong to the Prime Minister's Office. District offices in the county-seats perform the OSH inspections. There are occupational safety and occupational health experts available to controll the meeting of legal requirements (inspection, sanctions), counselling and the investigation of work accidents and occupational diseases. The units can ask for support from other departments within the office (e.g. public health).[40]

Other supervisory organs also perform occupational safety tasks such as the Hungarian Office for Mining and Geology (Magyar Bányászati és Földtani Hivatal).[41] In case of certain distinct areas (armed forces, law enforcement and disaster management bodies, etc.) the given sector issues safety and health regulations pursuant to special authorization in the law. Furthermore, these bodies supervise the enforcement of the OSH regulations falling within their competence. Recently there is an approximation towards the civilian legislation.

OSH services

For the sake of the fulfilment of certain occupational safety and health tasks the employer shall appoint or employ one of its employees or shall contract with a third party service provider who meets the appropiate professional qualifications. Therefore occupational safety and health services can be completely external or internal or mixed. However, the general responsibility remains at the employer.

Special regulations apply to the performance of occupational safety tasks at the law enforcement and detention services.[42] [43] [44]

The tasks of the occupational safety and health expert are especially the following:

  • to conduct the preliminary OSH inspection (in case of OSH installation);
  • to carry out the periodic OSH inspection;
  • to participate in the special inspection of the workplace, personal protective equipment, work equipment or technological process;
  • to assist in the drawing up of an emergency rescue plan;
  • to take part in drawing up the prevention strategy in terms of OSH;
  • to participate in the risk assessment and in OSH education;
  • to draw up the internal rules for the provision of personal protective equipment;
  • to investigate accidents at work;
  • to participate in carrying out the duties regarded as "specialised OSH activities" in specific other legislation and
  • to take part in the fulfilment of the duties relating to occupational health.

The qualifications necessary to the performance of the OSH tasks of the employer, the time requirement and the number of staff are determined by law and depend on the hazard class (I-II-III) and the number of staff (five categories). The most hazardous industries fall into class I (e.g. production of chemicals, mining, construction, manufacture of machines) while the least hazardous ones fall into class III (e.g. catering, retail trade, public administration). In the case of any employer having no more than 9 employees or employers having less than 50 employees and falling into hazard class II or III, an appointed employee or the employer himself can perform the employer’s tasks related to OSH, but only in the case that he/she possesses the necessary knowledge, skills and experience[45].

Occupational health services (foglalkozás-egészségügyi szolgálatok)

According to paragraphs 57 and 58 of the OSH Act, employers shall provide (possibly at the workplace or close to it) basic occupational health service, which can be provided only by medical personel with specialisation, for every employee working in organised employment – as stipulated in separate legislation. This service may be provided either by a service provider operated by the employer or – on the basis of contract – by a third party service provider.[3][6] Every natural and legal entity or business organisation without legal entity is entitled to operate an occupational health service if it fulfils the necessary conditions set in Decree 27/1995 NM.[46]

Every job should be put into occupational health categories according to the health risk they pose: A-B-C-D (For example mining or work with carcinogenic materials belongs to category A, while office work falls into category D). The classification – taking into consideration the opinion of the service or of the OSH authority – is the employer’s responsibility. The number of the physicians and nurses who have to work for the service depends on the number of employees to care for and the job categories they fall into. If more than 300 employees falling into occupational health categories A and B work in a single shift, then the competent occupational safety authority may require from the employer to ensure health care by an occupational nurse on the premises – including the conditions for providing first aid.[47]

The OSH unit in the distric office of the regional government office is the supervisory authority concerning the provision of the occupational health service[47]: the employer has no right to give instructions. The medico-professional supervision falls within the competence of the public health departments of the offices.

The occupational health service performs preventive, monitoring and rehabilitation activities in the frame of the basic service which includes: fitness-for-job tests, analysing the health risks arising from the working environment and the performance of the work, notification of occupational diseases, tasks concerning chemical safety, information provision, and tasks related to vaccinations and preventive care. The service co-operates in the performance of certain employer’s tasks as well, especially in identifying risks at the work and solving occupational health tasks, as well as ensuring the requirements for first aid and organizing emergency medical care. In addition to this, the service takes part in the preparation of the emergency plan and occupational rehabilitation as well.[46][48]

Other co-operators

Certain inspections – such as the statutory inspections for lifting equipment or the measurement of noise, vibration or air polluting materials at the workplace – can be performed only by experts having the appropriate licence or by accredited laboratories. Inspection of dangerous technologies can be performed only by persons having the special OSH expert license. Though the employer can have these tasks performed by its own employees (provided it has an appropriately equipped and accredited laboratory for these purposes), the tasks which need to be performed rarely and require special instruments are usually performed by external service providers, especially in case of small enterprises.

If the employer employs an external service provider, than it chooses the service provider and concludes a contract with it at its own discretion. There is a suggested fee for occupational health services in the legislation[47], as well as a recommendation by the Hungarian Medical Chamber, but it is not obligatory to take these into consideration.

Occupational safety and occupational health expert activities (Munkabiztonsági-, illetve munkaegészségügyi szaktevékenység)

A person with occupational safety (mining) qualification and physicians with special medical qualification shall be employed for the performance of the following, so-called occupational safety and occupational health expert activities stipulated by law:[3][6]

  • OSH installation (occupational safety and occupational health expert activity)
  • periodic safety inspection (occupational safety expert activity)
  • emergency inspections (occupational safety and occupational health expert activity)
  • adopting the occupational safety and occupational health content of the prevention strategy (occupational safety and occupational health expert activity)
  • determining risk assessment, risk management and preventive measures (occupational safety and occupational health expert activity)
  • internal regulation for the provision of personal protective equipment (occupational safety and occupational health expert activity)
  • investigation of accidents at work (occupational safety expert activity, in case of serious accident it is an occupational health expert activity too).

Compensation and insurance bodies

The current Hungarian regulations do not separate the accident insurance system, although the issue of its introduction is repeatedly being raised in national strategies. The employer pays social contribution tax after the employees, which partly covers health care costs as well. The value of the contribution, which is set in legislation, is the same for every employer and employee and is independent from the dangerousness of the job. Thus the employer is not directly interested in decreasing the risks inherent in the work environment.

The payments effected by the employers flow into the central budget. The costs of the damage to the employee’s health (work accident, occupational disease) suffered in connection with his/her occupation are paid by the same state social security agency which is competent also in case of fateful diseases but the costs are later collected from the employer. In case of work accident or occupational disease the worker is entitled to accident care (accident health care, sick-pay and accident-related allowance). Only persons whose permanent health damage (in relation to the work accident or occupational disease) exceeds 13% are eligible for accident-related allowance.

In Hungary health damage by any exposure can be registered as occupational disease and may qualify for compensation if the occupational origin of the exposure is proved in the strictly regulated verification process. The list of occupational diseases in force at the moment does not restrict the eligibility of occupational diseases solely on the grounds of specific exposures or job titles.[49]

The National Health Insurance Fund Administration (Nemzeti Egészségbiztosításai Alapkezelő – NEAK), which is left after the restructuring of the National Health Insurance Fund (Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár – OEP), is appointed to administer the health insurance fund.[50] NEAK is a central agency, a central administrative body operating under the guidance of the minister responsible for health insurance. The Administration has no direct effect on the OSH environment, practically it orgineses the health care of citizens. The official (authority) process of accident care payback is carried out by the district offices (of government offices).

Following the dissolution of the National Office for Rehabilitation and Social Affairs (Nemzeti Rehabilitációs és Szociális Hivatal – NRSZH), tasks like the establishment of disability pension, accident disability pension, accident-related allowance, rehabilitation allowance, health damage annuity for miners and the establishment of degree of lasting health damage and the portion therof arisen in relation to occupation (which is relevant in the establishment of the above mentioned accident-related allowance) are administered at various places. Generally, cases are handled in district offices, while the Rehabilitation Department in the Government Office of Budapest (Budapest Főváros Kormányhivatala Rehabilitációs Főosztálya) and és a (Szociális és Gyermekvédelmi Főigazgatóság – SZGYF) national level.[39][51]

Other OSH bodies

Prevention Institutes

There are a number of market-based, well-equipped nationwide occupational health and occupational safety service providers which aim at satisfying the requirements for services.

Professional associations

The professional associations protect the interests of the members and - operating as a network - inform the members about the news and developments concerning their special field. They furthermore fight for promoting their respective professions at the various decision making levels.

Főcze Lajos Foundation for Safety and Health Representatives (Főcze Lajos Alapítvány a Munkavédelmi Képviselőkért)[52]
The Foundation aims at promoting the possibilities of workers for occupational safety reconciliation and representation of their interests.

Hungarian Scientific Society for Occupational Health and Medicine (Magyar Üzemegészségügyi Tudományos Társaság – MÜTT)[53]
The Society aims at practicing and developing the occupational medicine, at improving the knowledge of the members and at providing medical ethics education.

Hungarian Ergonomics Society (Magyar Ergonómiai Társaság – MET)[54]
The objective of the Society is to strengthen and coordinate the position of ergonomics as a profession in order to facilitate the enforcement of human aspects in production, products and services - promoting the implementation of economic objectives.

Hungarian Chamber of Engineers - Department of Occupational Safety (Magyar Mérnöki Kamara Munkabiztonsági Tagozata)[55]
The Department represents occupational safety engineers on different forums, distributes information and organises trainings.

Hungarian Scientific Society for Occupational Hygiene and Chemical Safety (Magyar Munkahigiénés és Kémiai Biztonsági Tudományos Társaság – MMKBTT)
The civil organisation promotes the enforcement of primary prevention at work places, public health safety in the country, and aims at improving quality of life. It furthermore promotes carrier prospects and the upgrading of its members’ skills.

Work Safety and Occupational Medical Association (Munkabiztonsági és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Szövetség – MUFOSZ)[56]
The association joins prevention specialists, represents the interests of the safety and health profession and promotes a healthy and safe working environment via professional meetings, publications, analyses and networking.

Association of Hungarian Chemists (Magyar Kémikusok Egyesülete – MKE) [57]
The Society, which aims to provide forum for a professional public life, thus promoting in an indirect way the development of Hungarian chemical science, chemistry education and the chemical industry, has a Commission of Safety Technics in Chemical Industry (Vegyipari Biztonságtechnikai Szakosztály).

Education, training and awareness raising

Legally required training for OSH specialists

The OSH Act stipulates mandatory training for safety and health representatives operating at workplaces. The employer shall ensure – in each election cycle – the possibility for the safety and health representative to participate in an at least 16-hour training within one year after his/her election and in an at least 8-hour training in every subsequent year. The costs shall be borne by the employer and the training shall take place during the normal working hours. [58]

The qualification of the employed occupational safety experts can be secondary or higher level. The tasks qualifying as occupational safety expert activities can be performed only by persons having occupational safety qualification – or mining qualification in the field of mining – while the tasks qualifying as occupational health expert activities can be performed only by persons having an occupational health qualification. In addition to this, certain occupational safety related tasks can be performed only after the person acquired specific certifications.

Secondary level OSH qualifications

Secondary level OSH qualification in Hungary can be obtained within the framework of vocational education (technician). The OSH technician programme consists of 240-360 lessons (by vocational training).[59] The graduated persons is capable to:

  • co-operate with foremen, experts, employees' safety and health representatives at the workplace and contribute to the prevention of work-related accidents and diseases;
  • participate in the realisation of the employer's OSH tasks, execute the tasks that can be provided by secondary level OSH qualification;
  • process the content of OSH legislation, standards and manuals, initiate and develop the necessary measures;
  • inform the employer, the employees, employees' safety and health representatives on the OSH tasks, rights and duties, initiate and support the realisation thereof;
  • participate in the creation of a safe and healthy working environment, and provide for the material, personal and organisational requirements;
  • discover danger, identify, assess and manage risk;
  • participate in the organisation of the employer' occupational health tasks, co-operate with occupational health service in the realisation of occupational health tasks;
  • transmit the culture of safety and health at work towards the employer and employees.

Higher level OSH qualifications

BSc and master (MSc) level OSH courses, which would comply with the requirements of the OSH Act, are not available in Hungary. Advanced level OSH qualification can be obtained at OSH postgraduate programmes based on a previously obtained diploma. The OSH specialised engineer (munkavédelmi szakmérnök) and the OSH expert (munkavédelmi szakember) are both 2-year further training higher education programmes that are based on the previously obtained engineer’s or non-engineer’s degree and entitle to holding various positions that require advanced level OSH qualification and to performing occupational safety expert activities.[60][61][62] Having advanced level OSH qualification is the basis for acquiring the occupational safety expert license.

The following qualifications have significant OSH content, nevertheless do not entitle for professional OSH activity:

BSc programme
Higher level vocational qualification which can be OSH focused (military and safety technology engineering: seven terms and 210 credits) or can be based on other related technical areas (mechanical engineer BSC programme).

MSc programme [63]
It is a 2-year programme consisting of 120 credits, available after BSc. During the programme, OSH is taught in an increased number of classes and a final examination shall be taken (Safety technology engineering MSc programme). The programme prepares the students for high level, independent and managerial work.

PhD
The Doctoral School of Safety Engineering, which was launched in 2012, made available to obtain PhD degree in this field.[64] The Doctoral School of Psychology is open for ergonomic topics as well.[65].

Special qualifications

The postgraduate training "Specialist in the investigation of work accidents and occupational diseases" was launched in 2014.[66]

Work psychology
Available as a postgraduate course for psychologist.[67]

Occupational health qualifications

The Bologna process resulted in overlaps with the former trainings. The occupational health nurse advanced level qualification can be obtained after the secondary school leaving examination, both in the school system and in adult education. [68]. For the time being a BSc degree can also be obtained in the previous profession as well as the environmental health officer qualification, by choosing the appropriate specialisation. Other master programmes with BSc degrees are also available.

Occupational health, preventive medicine and public health specialisations can be chosen after the general medical degree (MD) is obtained.[69]:

Occupational medicine (duration of training: 48 months)

  • 24 months core training programme including:
    • 6 months urgent care practice
    • 1 month core training courses
    • 17 months occupational medicine core material, including:
      • 6 months internal medicine and occupational internal medicine practice
      • 2 months training at clinics concerning other occupational illnesses, including:
        • 6 weeks outpatient consultation
        • 2 weeks at the contagious diseases ward
      • 5 months occupational hygiene and other occupational medicine studies
      • 4 months for learning about the occupational health care of the most important occupational sectors in Hungary
  • 24 months special activity related to occupational health (practice within an occupational health service)

Work hygiene (duration of training: 24 months, available only after having acquired either the occupational medicine or the preventive medicine and public health specialisation)

  • 12 months work hygiene core training
  • 12 months work hygiene practice

Other vocational training

Refresher trainings are not obligatory but are available for those having an occupational safety qualification.

Those who have an occupational health qualification are obliged to participate in continuous education. [70]

Professional magazines

The following professional journals are published in Hungary:

  • Central European Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, since 1995. [71]
  • Foglalkozás-egészségügy, since 1997 (Occupational Health)
  • Munkavédelem és Biztonságtechnika, since 1998 (Occupational Safety and Safety Technics)

Awareness raising networks

The Department of Occupational Safety and Health in the Ministry for National Economy performs the tasks related to the operation of the Hungarian Focal Point of the European Union Agency for Safety and Health at Work [72]. In performing this task, the Department operates as a network and forwards information to the members, participates in international campaigns.[73]

Specialized technical, medical and scientific institutions

Research institutes

There is no national OSH research institute in Hungary.

The Occupational Health Directorate in the National Public Health Institute (OKI) performs work hygiene, epidemiology, applied occupational physiology – ergonomics and work psychology related researches.[74]

Certain universities deal with occupational safety related researches. [75] [76]

Standardisation bodies

The Hungarian Standards Institution (Magyar Szabványügyi Testület – MSZT) is an independent, non-profit public body the main activities and services of which include: standardisation, certification, adult education, issue of standards, distribution of standards, information supply. [77]

Institutions and organisations

Table 2: Main OSH institutions and organisations in Hungary
Key actors in the Hungarian OSH dialogue OSH Committee [78]
Key social partners in the Hungarian OSH field Confederation of Hungarian Employers and Industrialists (Munkaadók és Gyáriparosok Országos Szövetsége – MGYOSZ) [1]
National Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers (Vállalkozók és Munkáltatók Országos Szövetsége – VOSZ) [2]
National Association of Agricultural Associates and Producers (Mezőgazdasági Szövetkezők és Termelők Országos Szövetsége – MOSZ) [3]
National Confederation of Workers’ Councils (Munkástanácsok Országos Szövetsége) [4]
Hungarian Trade Union Confederation (Magyar Szakszervezeti Szövetsége – MSZSZ) [5]
Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions (Liga Szakszervezetek) [6]
Forum for the Co-operation of Trade Unions (Szakszervezetek Együttműködési Fóruma – SZEF) [24]
Confederation of Professionals’ Unions (Értelmiségi Szakszervezetek Tömörülése – ÉSZT) [7]
Hungarian Industrial Association (Magyar Iparszövetség – OKISZ) [8]
Hungarian Association of Craftmen's Corporation (Ipartestületek Országos Szövetsége – IPOSZ) [9]
National Association of Strategic and Public Utility Companies (Stratégiai és Közszolgáltató Társaságok Országos Szövetsége - STRATOSZ) [10]
Employers' Alliance in Agriculture (Agrár Munkaadói Szövetség) no webpage
National OSH authorities and inspection services Ministry for National Economy – Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Nemzetgazdasági Minisztérium Munkavédelmi Főosztálya) [11]
National Public Helath Institute – Occupational Health Directorate (Országos Közegészségügyi Intézet Munkahigiénés és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Igazgatósága) [12]
The occupational safety and health units of the Metropolitan and County Government Offices (Fővárosi és Megyei Kormányhivatalok munkavédelmi egységei) [13]
Professional organisation of OSH services n.a. n.a.
Key compensation and insurance bodies District offices of regional government offices n.a.
Key prevention institutes n.a. n.a.
Key professional associations Főcze Lajos Foundation for Safety and Health Representatives (Főcze Lajos Alapítvány a Munkavédelmi Képviselőkért) [14]
Hungarian Scientific Society for Occupational Health and Medicine (Magyar Üzemegészségügyi Tudományos Társaság – MÜTT) [15]
Hungarian Ergonomics Society (Magyar Ergonómiai Társaság – MET) [16]
Hungarian Scientific Society for Occupational Hygiene and Chemical Safety (Magyar Munkahigiénés és Kémiai Biztonsági Tudományos Társaság – MMKBTT) no webpage
Hungarian Chamber of Engineers - Department of Occupational Safety (Magyar Mérnöki Kamara Munkabiztonsági Tagozata) [17]
Work Safety and Occupational Medical Association (Munkabiztonsági és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Szövetség – MUFOSZ) [18]
Key research institutes National Public Helath Institute – Occupational Health Directorate (Országos Közegészségügyi Intézet Munkahigiénés és Foglalkozás-egészségügyi Igazgatósága) [19]
Óbuda University – Donát Bánki Faculty of Mechanical and Safety Engineering (Óbudai Egyetem – Bánki Donát Gépész és Biztonságtechnikai Mérnöki Kar) [20]
Budapest University of Technology and Economics – Department of Ergonomics and Psychology (Budapesti Műszaki és Gazdaságtudományi Egyetem – Ergonómia és Pszichológia Tanszék) [21]
Key normalisation actor Hungarian Standards Institution (Magyar Szabványügyi Testület – MSZT) [22]

Source: Overview by the authors

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  75. Óbuda University (2011). A doktori iskola szakmai programja. Retrieved 14 April 2012 from: http://bdi.uni-obuda.hu/a_doktori_iskola_szakmai_programja
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Links for further reading

Eurofound (2008). The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations – Hungary. Retrieved 14 April 2012 from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/comparative/tn0710019s/hu0710019q.htm

Eurofound (2010). Hungary: Information, consultation and participation of workers concerning health and safety in SMEs. Retrieved 14 April 2012 from: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/ewco/studies/tn0911028s/hu0911029q.htm

Gaál P, Szigeti S, Csere M, Gaskins M, Panteli D., Hungary: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition, WHO, Copenhagen, 2011. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/where-we-work/member-states/hungary/publications2/hungary-hit-2011

International Labour Organisation (2012). NATLEX – Hungary. Retrieved 05 June 2012 from: http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.country?p_lang=en&p_country=HUN

Ungváry, Gy., Béleczki, L., Grónai, É., ‘Transformation of Factory Health Care Service and the First Year Activities of the New Occupational Health Service in Hungary’, CEJOEM, Budapest, 1997, pp. 3-23. Available at: http://www.omfi.hu/cejoem/Volume3/Vol3No1/ce971-1.HTM

European Qualification of Occupational Safety & Health Professional (EUSAFE project): http://www.eusafe.org

UEMS Occupational Medicine. Hungary (country profile). http://www.uems-occupationalmedicine.org/node/82