Creating healthy working conditions
Stiff competition and social developments continually pose new challenges to commercial companies. This also places greater demands on employees. In order to be able to maintain a healthy balance, the flexibility required by the economy must therefore be continually reconciled with the legitimate needs of employees for health and safety at work.
Health and safety at work is extremely important in terms of healthcare, social and economic policy. Embedded in the labour legislation it creates the requirement for an optimum performance by employees and maintaining them in the work process. Satisfied and healthy employees safeguard the social peace in the country and make a contribution towards a prosperous economy. The workplace has also become one of the key areas of action for public health.
Workrelated detrimental effects on health, such as for example back pain and burnout, cost several billion Swiss francs a year in our country. Some of this money could be saved by taking appropriate measures.
Deficiencies in the organisation of labour, working time models, work structure or in management attitudes can also have a negative effect on health at the workplace just as much as poor air, lighting or noise conditions. Our Working Conditions Division is responsible for matters relating to all aspects of employee health and safety at work. We work for the continual adaptation of statutory regulations to scientific and technical bases and issue recommendations for measures to combat detrimental effect son health at the workplace.
We primarily deal with lawmaking and supervision in relation to working hours and rest periods. We also act as a licensing authority for regular night work, work on Sundays and shift work throughout Switzerland. On a day-to-day basis we also in particular answer legal questions such as those relating to pregnant employees and young workers. We ensure the uniform application of the regulations relating to working hours and rest periods in the Employment Act. We provide technical further training and advice on the abovementioned areas to representatives of cantonal supervisory authorities
Federal Labour Inspectorate
We supervise and coordinate the implementation of the Employment Act as well as the Accident Insurance Act by the cantons. To this end we analyse the implementation data, make decisions on implementation questions on health and safety at the work-place for all cantons and determine which activities are to be the focus in the implementation by the cantons. As part of the overall supervision we ensure that laws are applied on a standardised basis throughout Switzerland. To this end on the one side we draw up guidelines for the cantons and on the other conduct regular audits of the cantonal Labour Inspectorates.
In addition to the education and further training services that we offer, we provide support and advice to the cantonal labour inspectors on technical and fundamental matters. We directly monitor the local implementation of the Employment Act and the Accident Insurance Act both in the federal government administration and establishments. We also maintain cooperation with international employee protection organisations as well as foreign partner authorities.
Bases of Labour and Health
We deal with the scientific evaluation of workplace health impacts. In this context the identification of new risks and monitoring of known health risks are key tasks in the various sectors and for special risk groups. We publish regular reports on the risks to health at the workplace. We also issue recommendations relating to the implementation of the Employment Act. Furthermore, our specialists in occupational medicine, occupational hygiene, ergonomics and occupational psychology are involved in providing training and advice to representatives of the implementation bodies of the Employment Act.
Together with other partners we coordinate the implementation of the Federal Act on Product Safety. The aim is to ensure that only safe products which are not detrimental to health can be sold on the Swiss market and used by both consumers as well as employees. In order to ensure a free flow of goods the various provisions are harmonised with those of our country’s key trading partners.
Our other tasks also include analysing European product regulations and implementing these into Swiss law.
Chemicals and Work
As one of the various assessment bodies under the Chemicals Act we are responsible for protecting employees. Together with other federal departments we handle the dossier on the registration of new materials, licensing of both pesticides and biocide products. We assess whether the anticipated exposure to these chemicals can have a detrimental effect on the health of the employee. We also check whether all the required workplace safety measures are correctly set out in the operating instructions and safety data sheets for the chemicals and whether the companies are able to comprehend and implement these. We are also involved in the market monitoring for chemicals.