Lack of worker safety training: all the risks to the company

April 28, 2021

The training of workers in safety and prevention of risks related to the performance of work activities is an obligation of the employer, as is explicitly spelled out in Article 37 of Legislative Decree 81/2008. The legislation clearly specifies what obligations are incumbent on the employer, who the recipients of the training are, and how the courses are to be delivered, while also indicating what the risks are for companies that do not comply.

Worker training: what the regulations require

Article 37 of Legislative Decree 81/2008 (which can be consulted here) is the basic reference point regarding the correct way to train workers in safety, along with the state-regions agreement of November 21, 2011. In fact, the text of the law states:

  • The employer must ensure that each worker receives “sufficient and appropriate” health and safety training, including taking into account the employee’s language skills and thus his or her actual ability to understand the information he or she receives during the training. The rule applies to all workers working within the company, regardless of their type of contract (permanent, fixed-term, apprentices,,, internship…)
  • Training should refer to two main areas:
    • general concepts of risk, harm, prevention, protection; knowledge of the organization of the risk prevention system and the rights and duties of the various parties involved; composition, activities and contact arrangements of supervisory and control bodies
    • Specific risks associated with the particular tasks performed by workers and prevention and protection measures related to the company’s industry or sector
  • Training regarding these issues must take place at specific times:
    • at the beginning of the employment relationship (if possible, before the worker starts his or her job. Otherwise, the training must in any case be completed within 60 days after employment)
    • In case of a change in the employee’s job description, or transfer to a different department of the company
    • In case innovations are introduced in the company: new machines, new technologies, new hazardous substances…
    • at any time, if for any reason there are workers in the company who have not completed the training in the required timeframe
  • Training must take place at the company’s premises (except in cases where employees, due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic, work in smart working: in this case, it is possible to take training in “distance” mode) and during working hours.

Thus, the law is very clear in specifying that worker participation in safety training courses is mandatory, and that it is the employer’s responsibility to organize such courses and ensure employee participation, in the manner and timeframe prescribed by law.

Failure to train workers on safety: all the penalties

Legislative Decree 81/2008 also stipulates, in Article 55, what the penalties are in case of non-compliance with the regulations regarding workers’ safety training.

If workers (whatever their role and task, including management) fail to conduct safety training courses on time and in the prescribed manner, the employer and manager can be punished:

  • with arrest from two to four months or
  • with a fine ranging from €1,474, 21 to €6,388.23

The law also specifies that if there are more than 5 workers who have not taken regular training courses, the penalties are doubled, and if there are more than 10, they are tripled.

Workers who take on particular roles related to risk prevention and safety (fire prevention officers, first-aid officers, first-aid officers, persons in charge of evacuating workplaces in case of danger…) must receive appropriate specific training, and must attend periodic refresher training activities. If this is not ensured, the employer and manager can be punished:

  • with arrest from two to four months or
  • with a fine ranging from €1,474, 21 to €6,388.23

The Risk Prevention and Protection Service Manager (RSPP) must also receive specific training to enable him or her to carry out his or her role properly, and the regulations specify that this must be done even when it is the employer who personally takes on the task of RSPP. If the employer who assumes the role of RSPP does not attend the training, he or she may be sanctioned:

  • with arrest from three to six months or
  • with a fine ranging from €3,071.27 to €7,862.44 (the figure is slightly lower-from €2,740 to €7,014-in case the RSPP who did not attend the training is a different figure than the employer)

Finally, the Workers’ Safety Representative (RLS) is also entitled to receive specific training in health and safety, with a special focus on the specific risks that characterize the areas in which he or she performs representative activities. If they are not allowed to participate in such training, sanctions include:

  • arrest for two to four months or
  • fine ranging from €2,740 to €7,014

The penalties provided for by law, as can be seen, can be really significant, and in the most serious cases they do not provide for the simple payment of a fine but also have consequences on the criminal level.For this reason, it is important to remember that complying with occupational safety regulations is an important safeguard not only for the health of workers, but also for the employer and the company as a whole, since the results of non-compliance can have very serious repercussions both on a personal level and on the company’s business.

The benefits of worker training, even in the Covid-19 era

Training workers in safety is, as we have seen, a legal requirement. However, it should not be forgotten that this activity has significant spin-offs that go beyond mere compliance: training is the main tool available to employers to improve the quality of their workers’ health, reduce injuries and protect employees in the short and long term. It is wrong, therefore, to assume that training is merely an obligation and a cost: in reality, if carried out in a truly effective, targeted and personalized manner, training enables companies to improve their safety culture, decrease accidents and make employees truly aware of risk prevention. All of this has positive repercussions on both worker safety and the company’s bottom line, since it allows for significant cost savings over time as well.

The importance of these issues jumped to everyone’s attention in a particularly obvious way during the Covid-19 virus pandemic: indeed, the spread of the virus made it clear to everyone that awareness regarding how the infection is transmitted and the responsibility of individuals are the only truly effective tools for reducing the risk to the community.

At the company level, moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that workers’ health risks are constantly changing, and new ones can emerge at any time. The law states that all types of hazards should be addressed through training, information and the use of the best available technology to protect workers’ health. For this reason, the use of flexible, constantly updated and customized security management tools, such as the Kalmo suite, are the best solution to concretely protect both employees and companies, allowing all kinds of risks to be effectively countered.

Is your company in compliance with regulations related to occupational safety? Is there anything you could do to grow security and shelter yourself from penalties? Complete our FREE TEST and find out now!