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Training of the Working Conditions Groups and Committees (WCG and WCC)

COMMITTEES AND GROUPS ON WORKING CONDITIONS IN ENTERPRISES

According to the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the employer is obliged to consult with the workers or with their representatives and organizations, creating an opportunity for them to participate in:

  1. the discussion and adoption of all measures that relate to the health and safety of workers;
  2. the determination of workers who will carry out activities to ensure healthy and safe working conditions. First aid, fire fighting and worker evacuation;
  3. the planning and organization of the training of workers on health and safety working conditions.

The purpose of establishing a Committee or Group on working conditionsis both the fulfillment of the stated legal obligations of employers and the attraction of workers for active participation in discussing the state of working conditions in the enterprise and the measures they must take to ensure safety and health at work. Cooperation in the field of safety between the employer, the management staff and the workers or their representatives is carried out through WCC/WCG.

Legal basis for the establishment of Committees and Groups on working conditions

The normative requirements for the establishment, functioning and training of committees and groups on working conditions are contained in the Labor Code, Art. 27-32a of the Health and Safety at Work Act and in Ordinance No. 4 of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Health of 1998 on the training of representatives in committees and groups on working conditions in enterprises.

Organizational structure of:

  • Working Conditions Committee (WCC)

In enterprises with more than 50 workers and employees, Working Conditions Committees are established with a composition of 4 to 10 people.

The Working Conditions Committee includes representatives of the employer. As well as an equal number of representatives of occupational safety and health workers.

The chairman of the Working Conditions Committee is the employer or his representative. And the vice-chairman is a representative of occupational health and safety workers. Representatives of the control bodies, the occupational medicine service and external experts can participate in the work of the Committee.

The members of the WCC on the part of the employer are determined by his order and may be managers. or other officials, responsible for the occupational safety and health.

The workers’ representatives of the occupational health and safety and the deputy chairman of the Working Conditions Committee are elected by the General Assembly. (The meeting of proxies) in the enterprise in accordance with Art. 6 of the Labor Code is for a period of 4 years.

Early termination of the term may be requested by at least one third of the total number of employees in the enterprise. And it is accepted by a majority of more than half of those present at the General meeting.

In the WCC composition, through the quotas of the employer or the workers, a representative/s from units of the enterprise located outside its headquarters is also provided.

After electing the representatives of the workers and determining the representatives of the employer, a founding protocol for the WCC construction is drawn up.

The Working Conditions Committee organizes its activities in accordance with the following basic rules:

  • WCC to the enterprise coordinates its activities with the committees or groups to the divisions of the enterprise, if there are any;
  • Holds a meeting at least once every quarter;
  • WCC can be convened at any time on the initiative of the chairman. His deputy or by a member of the committee, after agreement with the chairman;
  • WCC at the enterprise operates on the basis of an annual plan, which is updated;
  • WCC work agenda is approved by the chairman or his deputy;
  • Participation of external specialists, who are not members of the Committee, is allowed after agreement with the chairman or his deputy;
  • Minutes are kept for each WCC meeting; it contains a summary of the debates, decisions and written opinions on the discussed issues. The minutes are signed by all the members who participated in the meeting, and the signatures with “dissenting opinion” are explained with a note to the minutes;
  • WCC decisions are implemented only byOrder of the employer.
  • Groups on working conditions (WCG)

In enterprises with 5 to 50 employees inclusive, as well as in the separate structural units of the enterprises, Working Conditions Groups are formed.

The Working Conditions Group consists of the employer or the head of the relevant structural unit and one workers’ occupational health and safety representative.

The workers’ health and safety at work representative is elected by the General meeting in the enterprise in accordance with the procedure of Art. 6 of the Labor Code for a period of 4 years.

Early termination of the term may be requested by at least one third of the total number of employees in the enterprise. And it is accepted by a majority of more than half of those present at the General meeting.

After selecting the workers’ health and safety at work representative and determining the representative of the employer, a founding protocol for the WCG establishment is drawn up.

In enterprises with less than 5 employees

The employer of this type of enterprise must necessarily discuss with the workers the issues in the field of safety and health at work. Including when risks arise that create an immediate danger to the health, safety or life of workers.

Through the Working Conditions Committees and Groups, workers and their representatives have the opportunity to:

  • suggest ideas for the safe execution of specific operational tasks. And when carrying out repair works to contribute to the elimination of potential dangers and risks;
  • assist experts in assessing workplace risks, to assess “what actually happens”;
  • be the communication lines between the management officials at all levels and the workers, for active participation in ensuring safety in the performance of the production tasks of the enterprise.

Main tasks of Committees and Groups on Working Conditions (WCC and WCG)

WCC and WCG

Committees and Groups on working conditions should discuss quarterly the overall activity of protecting workplace health and safety. And to suggest measures for its improvement in terms of: working conditions; occupational traumatism; the risks assessed; fire and accident protection; health status of the staff, etc.

Internal regulatory documents in the enterprises are discussed at the meetings. Regarding their relevance and if an update is necessary, they propose the necessary changes for approval by the employer.

WCC and WCG

WCC and WCG give opinions on: the parameters of collective bargaining, which refer to working conditions and compensatory mechanisms under the Labor Code; proposals of units or individuals of the workers concerning safety and health at work; information, instructions, orders, etc. materials in the field of OSH.

The main task of the trainings is the discussion of issues related to risk assessment, proposed and taken measures and their results, as this is a statutory requirement of Ordinance No. 5 of 1999 on the order, manner and frequency of risk assessment . WCC should be most active after changes in work equipment, new technologies and others have occurred to revise the risk assessment.

Their representatives can participate in the risk assessment in the identification of hazards in the various work activities and in the identification of persons exposed to danger. They can recommend measures to eliminate the risks if they have the appropriate technical knowledge and the necessary qualifications.

Workers know best their work and the risks of technical malfunctions of machines and the possibilities of occupational accidents. Which necessitates the use of an effective dialogue with each of the workers to gather information about the risk locations. Safety issues and measures to be taken.

Members should monitor that necessary measures are taken. What is the effect of their application, are the risks and dangers minimized, are there any secondary effects, such as appearance of another type of risk?

Another important task is the discussion of the analyzes of the health status of the workers in the enterprise, as well as the implementation of checks on compliance with the OSH requirements.

WCC must take a position on the work organization at workplaces and can offer solutions to protect the health and ensure the safety of workers.

When works and activities are carried out by several enterprises or organizations at one site or workplace, a joint committee (group) on health and safety at work is established.

WCC and WCG rights and responsibilities

The main rights of the Working Conditions Committees and Groups are:

  • right of access to available information regarding working conditions, analyzes of occupational injuries and occupational diseases and prescriptions of control bodies;
  • require measures to be taken and proposals are made to eliminate hazards or temporarily limit the risk;
  • the right to refer to the control authorities if they consider that the measures taken are insufficient to guarantee health and safety;
  • to participate in inspections carried out by the control authorities;
  • to require the employer to provide them with conditions, means and time for the performance of their functions, as well as relevant training and qualification;
  • the representatives cannot be placed in a disadvantageous position for their actions to ensure health and safety working conditions;
  • the right to have their representative participate in the investigation of work accidents.
In addition to the listed rights, the deputy chairman of the Committee on Working Conditions and the representative of workers on safety and health at work in the Group on Working Conditions have the right:
  1. of access to all workplaces in the enterprise or division;
  2. to be informed directly by the employees on all matters in the field of health and safety;
  3. to participate in the work accidents investigation and in establishing the causes of occupational diseases;
  4. to participate in the development of the drafts of internal rules and regulations in the field of health and safety at work, for which the employer necessarily invites them;
  5. to require the employer or the safety and health authority in the enterprise to stop the operation of the work equipment or to prohibit the use of dangerous chemical substances and mixtures.

The deputy chairman of the Committee on Working Conditions and the representative of workers on safety and health at work in the Group on Working Conditions must:

  1. be well acquainted with the normative acts in the field of safety and health and must monitor their compliance;
  2. upon detection of violations or failure to fulfill obligations to ensure safety and health at work, to inform the employer and propose appropriate measures;
  3. inform workers and employees about the results of the performance of their additional duties;
  4. not divulge or use for their own account or for the account of third parties the information that became known to them during or in connection with the implementation of their activity, which constitutes a production or trade secret, as well as the personal data of the employees, unless they have given your express consent to their disclosure;
  5. for the obligations under item 4 to sign a Declaration of non-disclosure of information and personal data, which remains in force even after the termination of their powers.

The representatives in WCC and WCG must be trained according to the programs, order and requirements determined by a special regulation (Regulation No. 4 of 03.11.1998 on the training of the representatives in the committees and groups on working conditions in the enterprises of MLSP and MH).

The training of the representatives, according to the provisions of Ordinance No. 4 of 1998, is initial and annual.

This training takes place during working hours without affecting the remuneration of the representatives. Those who have completed the training are issued a certificate, which is kept by the employer until the end of the representatives’ mandate.

Initial training takes place within one month of their selection.

Annual training for representatives is to refresh their knowledge. Acquaintance with changes in the normative acts and to improve their work. The annual training of the representatives is shaped by a protocol.

Protection of representatives of safety and health workers at work in WCC and WCG

Occupational health and safety representatives on Working Conditions Committees and Groups cannot be disadvantaged for their actions to ensure health and safety at work.

In the cases under Art. 328, para. 1, points 2, 3, 5, 11 and Art. 330, para. 2, item 6 of the Labor Code, the employer may dismiss only with the prior permission of the labor inspectorate for each individual case. “A worker or an employee who is elected as a representative of workers for safety and health at work by the general meeting or the meeting of proxies according to the order of Art. 6, for the time until it has such quality” (pronounced, SG No. 27 of 25.03.2014).

If their rights are violated, the relevant Labor Inspection Directorate should be referred, which can sanction the employer.

An employer who does not fulfill his obligations in terms of providing the necessary conditions and means to fulfill the rights and functions of the representatives of the safety and health workers at work in WCC and WCG is punished according to Art. 413, para. 2 of the Labor Code. “An employer who fails to fulfill his obligations to ensure health and safety at work, if he is not subject to a more severe punishment, is punished with a property sanction or a fine in the amount of BGN 1,500 to BGN 15,000.”

In the event of a repeated violation, the amount of the pecuniary sanction or fine is from BGN 20,000 to BGN 30,000, respectively, a fine of BGN 5,000 to BGN 20,000.

Grounds for conducting – Art. 27 – 32 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Ordinance No. 4 of 3.11.1998 on the training of representatives in committees and groups on working conditions in enterprises, promulgated SG. No. 14 of 12.02.2008

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