Labour Protection Information Centre completes first year of operations

The Slovak Labour Protection Information Centre (ICOP) commenced operations in 2002, providing information on health and safety under the aegis of the National Labour Inspectorate. The performance of ICOP was positively assessed at a meeting in April 2003, at which it was recommended that the Centre be developed further.

The Labour Protection Information Centre (Informacné centrum ochrany práce, ICOP) completed its first year of operations in spring 2003. The Centre was created within the framework of a 'twinning' project under the EU's Phare programme and opened on 1 March 2002. ICOP was established under the National Labour Inspectorate (Národný inspektorát práce) and is intended to provide information to both employees and employers (SK0208101N) on labour protection and occupational health and safety.

In 2002, ICOP issued seven publications, entitled:

  1. 'Handbook on the management of occupational health and safety in small enterprises in the Slovak Republic';
  2. 'Management system for occupational health and safety';
  3. 'What to do if there is an accident at work';
  4. 'Stress-free working';
  5. 'Working with heavy weights';
  6. 'State policy concept on occupational health and safety'; and
  7. 'State policy strategy on occupational health and safety'.

In addition, ICOP published leaflets on stress-free working and on the services it provides as part of the National Labour Inspectorate. The Centre has its own website (http://icop.safework.gov.sk), which provides all necessary information, including the Proflib database of previously published labour protection materials. The ICOP website has had almost 7,500 visitors over the last year (the Slovak European Industrial Relations Observatory national centre has proposed that ICOP provide a link to the EIROnline website). The Centre manages the library of the National Labour Inspectorate. However, although the Centre is part of the latter organisation it has its own identity, including logo.

During its first year, ICOP presented the activities of the National Labour Inspectorate to the general public at the Agrocomplex fair and the Lignumexpo-Les exhibition. The Centre organised lectures and advice and information sessions for employees of sectoral organisations and institutions in the area of occupational health and safety. The ICOP also organised a so-called 'network meeting' with external co-workers. Cooperation on exchanging information between the Ministry of the Interior (Ministerstvo vnútra Slovenskej republiky, MINV), the Ministry of Health (Ministerstvo zdravotníctva Slovenskej Republiky, MZ SR) and representatives of education and training institutions, the Confederation of Trade Unions of the Slovak Republic (Konfederácia odborových zvazov Slovenskej republiky, KOZ SR) and the Federation of Employers' Associations of the Slovak Republic (Asociácia zamestnávatelských zvazov a zdruzení Slovenskej republiky, AZZZ SR) was established at this meeting. ICOP also organised five National Labour Inspectorate press conferences at which the Centre presented current topics in the area of labour inspection and issued 10 press releases. ICOP was also in charge of an 'occupational health and safety week'. The main theme of the week was 'stress-free working'. The Centre organised a press conference with the involvement of external participants from the Research and Education Institute for Occupational Safety (Výskumný a vzdelávací ústav bezpecnosti práce, VVÚBP), the Centre for Psychological Services (Centrum psychologických sluzieb, CPPS) and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family (Ministerstvo práce, sociálnych vecí a rodiny Slovenskej republiky, MPSVR SR). This achieved a very high media profile.

All ICOP activities were assessed on 10 April 2003 at a seminar in which ICOP contact network members participated. At this meeting, the achievements of ICOP so far were evaluated. Almost 50 representatives of the state, employers' associations and trade unions, as well as researchers and experts took part. ICOP has elaborated an ambitious action plan and will issue a new publication entitled 'Rules of good practice'.

Although ICOP has had to overcome many obstacles, the participants at the April seminar positively evaluated its performance so far. They underlined the importance of the Centre's future activities in implementing occupational health and safety tasks, which will have a close bearing on Slovakia’s accession to the EU. ICOP will be a focal point in respect of cooperation with the EU's European Agency for Health and Safety at Work in Bilbao.

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