Hazardous workplaces

Work safety inspectors carry out regular assessments of company premises in Hungary. When they find any kind of offence against the Labour Protection Act, they impose a penalty. The sum accumulated from these fines will be distributed among those who successfully tender to implement work safety improvement measures.

In the first six months of 2005, the National Labour Inspectorate (OMMF) carried out inspections and assessments at more than 13,000 premises, and imposed a 284,000 HUF (around €1,130) penalty on those who were found guilty of disobeying the relevant work safety regulations. According to the Inspectorate’s findings, almost 26,000 enterprises had unsafe equipment and tools, and 11,000 companies were penalised because of the unsatisfactory state of their workshops.

A total of 5,000 employers did not keep the work safety regulations, and a similar number did not possess the required documentation. Disregarding machinery controls or failing to maintain adequate supervision were also frequent causes for fining. At more than 4,500 firms, the compulsory risk assessment was not available or was of unsatisfactory quality. The Labour Protection Act (in Hungarian) has prescribed risk assessment since 1998, and this act has become stricter since 2001.

In accordance with the present regulations, risk assessment entails a thorough survey of what may harm or endanger the workers, and what measures are necessary to prevent such outcomes. Although they are meant to be comprehensive assessments, they do not require complicated laboratory equipment, scientific apparatus or expensive services. In reality, risk assessment, in most cases, means nothing more than fulfilling the existing work safety requirements.

The OMMF also penalised 2,270 cases for insufficient investigations into work injuries. In nearly 2,000 cases, the Inspectorate imposed penalties for the lack of or inadequate personal protective equipment, and issued more than 1,100 fines for not using the equipment.

Number and sum of fines imposed, 2003 and 2004
Number and sum of fines imposed, 2003 and 2004
Penalty for: Number of fines % of previous year Sum (HUF) % of previous year
2003 2004 2003 2004
Infringement of legislation 5,636 5,309 94 54,727,500 56,197,000 102.7
Prevention failure 1,871 2,669 143 465,380,000 612,055,000 131.5
Inadequate measures 209 268 166 5,725,500 841,400,000 147
Total 7,716 8,246 107 525,833,000 676,666,000 128.7

Source: OMMF, 2004 (in Hungarian)

Using the penalty income

In order to make good use of the income received from July 2003 to the end of June 2004, tenders were invited in relation to work health and safety up to the value of 150 million HUF (€600,000). By the deadline of 6 December 2004, some 142 applications were received, the total value of which would have amounted to 467 million HUF (€1.86 million) in support. Following the tender assessment process, 66 applications met the criteria in terms of aims, scale of support, and on legal grounds.

The work safety committee made recommendations to the Minister of Labour for the distribution of 152,397,000 HUF in support. Following the minister’s approval of the proposal, the OMMF signed contracts with the companies involved. Among the tenders were a number aimed at improving programmes for work safety training in small and medium-sized enterprises. These programmes have as their top priorities: a) briefing middle and senior management in relation to national work safety programmes, and b) widening the knowledge of and information available to work safety representatives.

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