Safety and health conditions at the workplace

I. Legal regulations

  • Article 48 (5) of the constitution of the republic of Bulgaria;
  • Articles 126, p. 6, 127 (3), 275 (1) of the Labour Code;
  • The Law on the safety and health conditions at work (Bulgarian: Закон за здравословни и безопасни условия на труд);
  • Article 7 (B) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR) etc.

II. Term

  • According to the legal definition provided by § 1 N° 1 of the Law on the safety and health conditions at work, safe and healthy conditions are conditions that prevent occupational diseases and work related accidents, favourable for the employee’s physical, psychical ad social well-being.
  • Healthy conditions are for example the recommended minimum values regarding illumination, dust exposure, special clothing for paramedical staff etc.
  • Safe conditions are for example the requirements for the operation of a machine and handling of other work tools.
  • According to Article 275 of the Labour Code, the employer in Bulgaria is obligated to guarantee safe and healthy working conditions. If he does not fulfil these obligations, he is liable for the commitment of a general offence. The employee on his part is obligated to respect and follow the safety standards. In case of violation/infringement of these standards, the employee is disciplinarily liable according to Article 187, p. 5 of the Labour Code.

If the employer does not fulfil his obligations, there are two options available for the employee:

  • Claim to severance payment because of damages caused by a work related accident or pursuing an occupational disease – Article 200 (1) of the Labour Code;
  • Furthermore, the employee may refuse to work under the given conditions – Article 283 of the Labour Code if a considerable, specific danger for his life/health is to be objectively expected.

III. Groups of rules for safe and healthy working conditions

  1. Universal rules:

According to whom they apply to, the following rules may be distinguished:

  • Universal rules for a safe and healthy work environment – provisional control regarding construction projects, control by the investor etc.;
  • Universal rules regarding the personal protection of the employee:

     - Special rules that guarantee that the assigned tasks are suitable to the medical condition of the employee. They include especially medical examinations before starting the job and regular medical examinations during the employment. Further, Article 286 of the Labour Code provides a limitation of the duration of the work in a harmful and dangerous work environment;

     - Special training of the employee to master the rules regarding safe and healthy working conditions (Article 281 (1) of the Labour Code). There are initial instructions, periodical instructions and special instructions (in cases of work related accidents);

     - Provisions of personal means of protection (Article 284 of the Labour Code) – special working clothes; free food and drinks regarding work with specific characteristics and event according to Article 285 of the Labour Code. These means may not be monetarily compensated (paragraph 4).

  1. Custom rules

Custom rules are related to the specifications of the individual industry. They are issued by the Minister of labour and social policy or the Minister of health (Article 276 of the Labour Code).