New Decree on requirements for the workplace in Hungary


On the basis of the authorisation granted in Act No. XCIII of 1993 on Labour Safety, the Minister of Social and Family Affairs and the Minister of Health issued joint Decree No. 3/2002 (II.8.) of the Minister of Social and Family Affairs and the Minister of Health on Minimum Safety and Health Requirements for the Place of Work (the "Decree").

The new rules of the Decree primarily contain requirements on the infrastructural facilities of places of work. The Decree gives employers several years to get ready for the application of the Decree. In order to comply with the requirements such as the provision of proper changing rooms, lavatories and doors, employers have to carry out vast changes and make great investments. Considerable time is required for the extension of existing buildings and for the construction of new ones. Therefore, although the Decree will only enter into force in several years time, it may be advisable to plan the necessary changes and start their implementation in the near future after studying these new regulations carefully.

Entry into force

This Decree contains regulations compatible with Directive 89/654/EEC concerning the European Council's minimum health and safety requirements for the workplace.

The Decree will enter into force on the day when the act announcing the international agreement of the accession of the Republic of Hungary to the European Union enters into force superseding Decree No. 25/1996 (VIII.28) of the Minister of Welfare concerning the general health requirements of work and work conditions not harmful to health, which regulates this area at present.

Scope of application

The Decree is to be applied during the design, construction and use of every place of work where employees stay for the purpose or in relation to work. Places of work may be indoor or outdoor including underground facilities and vehicles provided that special rules apply to vehicles used outside the facilities of employers.

The Decree shall not apply to the following places of work:

· temporary or mobile work sites;

· extractive industries;

· fishing boats; and

· fields, woods and other land forming part of an agricultural or forestry undertaking but situated away from the undertaking's buildings.

Applicable rules

During the design, construction and the use of places of work, employers are to comply with:

· the general obligations of the Decree applicable to employers

· the detailed rules of the Decree for each category

· other rules applicable to labour safety

· requirements of applicable, published national standards.

General obligations

Pursuant to the Decree as a general obligation a preliminary investigation has to be made with respect to labour safety if dangerous places of work are opened. The Decree sets out the aspects to be watched in the preliminary investigation, namely the sources of danger or risk, the group of employees endangered, the extent of exposure to danger, the most effective way of protection, methods of technical and individual protection and preventive measures to be identified.

Employers' responsibility is rather wide with respect to labour safety. Employers' responsibility encompasses the structure, stability and appropriate solidity of buildings, the issues of risks of accidents in the event of electrical installations and the choice of protective equipment and materials used. The possibility of use of carcinogenic materials remains restricted in a similar manner as the previous regulations. Carcinogenic materials may only be chosen if they cannot be replaced by other, less dangerous, materials.

Employers are to meet ergonomic and sanitary requirements and ensure that insects and rodents are repelled and killed and premises are cleaned with adequate frequency. Further, employers are obliged to carry on the technical maintenance and supervision continually.

An important new element of the regulations is the introduction of obligation to provide preliminary information and hold consultations regarding issues of labour safety. Employers are obliged to inform employees and bodies safeguarding interests on labour safety about all projected measures applicable to the place of work. It is an important obligation of the employer that they should consult with employees and bodies safeguarding interests on labour safety in the course of the preparation of decisions affecting the health and safety of employees.

Detailed rules

Detailed rules, which are grouped in categories, are based on the rules of the decree repealed upon the entry into force of this Decree. However, the Decree considerably expands the scope of regulation and instead of referring to each standard separately, the Decree provides in general that the published national standards shall be applied.

With some differences in the detailed rules, the following issues are regulated in accordance with the decree, which will remain in force until Hungary’s accession to the EU:

· handling of waste at places of work;

· ventilation of enclosed places of work;

· natural and artificial lighting of premises;

· provision of drinking water at places of work; and

· protection against noise and vibration at places of work.

In relation to the following areas, the Decree contains new rules or rules materially different from the former regulations:

· emergency routes and exits;

· fire detection and fire fighting;

· floors, walls, ceilings and roofs of rooms;

· windows and skylights;

· doors and gates;

· traffic routes and danger areas;

· escalators and travelators;

· loading bays;

· dimensions and air space in rooms – freedom of movement at the place of work;

· rest rooms;

· pregnant women and nursing mothers;

· changing rooms;

· showers, washbasins, lavatories;

· first aid rooms; and

· places of work of handicapped employees.

For further information please contact Gabriella Ormai at [email protected] or on 00 36 1 4834800.