Georgian Parliament Adopts Labor Safety Law
By Khatia Kardava
Friday, March 9
On March 7, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the draft Law on Labor Safety with the third and final hearing. 88 MPs supported the bill, no one was against.
The law applies to the high-risk, hard, harmful or hazardous work and its goal is to define the basic requirements and preventive measures that are related to the work safety and health issues, existing and potential threats, accidents and occupational disease prevention; education, informing and counseling of employees, and their equal participation in labor safety and healthcare issues.
The newly-adopted law applies to the following fields:
1. Construction and production of building materials;
2. Mining-geological works;
3. Metallurgical production;
4. Power Engineering;
5. Oil and Gas Industry;
6. Chemical production;
7. Metal Processing;
8. Glass production;
9. Wood processing plant;
10. Textile and light industry;
11. Transport (Railway, Metropolitan, Sea Port, Air and Land Transport).
According to the new draft law, the employer will be obliged to follow the labor safety norms and take care of the safety of employees and other visitors in the enterprise.
In addition, the employer will be obliged to periodically check the state of the equipment of the enterprise and take into consideration the physical and chemical factors of the enterprise.
The employer will also be obliged to look after of the means of protection, to control their usage and to replace them when worn out.
Employer's obligation will be to provide employees with instruction on labor safety, all equipment must be provided with an Operation Instruction, which will be compiled in a language understood.
The draft law envisages introduction of new positions in the enterprises - labor safety specialist. In the enterprise, where works less than 100 people, one specialist will be considered, and if there are more than 100 people in the enterprise - specialists' service will be formed.
The special supervision service will control the implementation of the law, which will be established by the government with the participation of the Ministry of Health.
In case of discovery of violations, it will be authorized to fine or suspend the activity of the enterprise. Fines will range from 100 GEL to 50,000 GEL ($40–$20,000). The sanctions are categorized into three types, and will depend on the size of an enterprise. The list of hazardous sectors can be amended later.
The law also reads that the monitoring service representatives will not be able to enter the enterprise without the permission of the judge, unless there was an accident or a planned inspection.
However, in case of repeated inspection, the supervision service will no longer need the courts permission.
According to the Ministry, the law on Labor Safety will respond to international directives, the work of the labor inspection will be more efficient, which will ultimately improve the safety and rights of workers in the workplace.
NGOs and trade unions have indicated the absence of effective labor inspection in Georgia and the violation of the rights of employees for several years. The issue became viral after the death of four workers in Tkibuli mine in May. Representatives of the society and NGOs talked about the necessity of tightening of labor conditions, especially in dangerous industries.
The Government of Georgia presented the draft law on Labor Safety on June 1, 2017 in Parliament. The draft law was developed by the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs in partnership with International Partners - International Labor Organization and the European Union. It was to be approved in December last year, but the process was delayed.
The draft law was approved by MPs during the first hearing; however, on February 5, 2018, when the Parliamentary Health Committee should have had a second hearing, the government did not present the draft and asked for an additional week for internal discussions.
The second hearing of the draft was held on February 15, which discussed the amount of fines and monitoring issues of workplaces.
The NGOs and labor rights groups indicated defects of the draft. They believe the law has a narrow scope as it only covers 11 fields and not all jobs.
“This regulation does not apply to employers who are not on the list approved by the government, which makes an unjustified difference between employees, and puts them in unequal conditions,” the statement of the NGOs EMC and GYLA reads.
The statement also stresses the draft does not envisage the effective work of the Inspection Service, adding it should have right to check the companies or enterprises any time, without obtaining the court order.
“This draft reduces the chances of immediate and effective response from the Inspection Service,” the NGOs claim.