Occupational health and safety in Austria
Occupational health and safety has a long tradition in Austria. In the mid-19th century the first legislative provisions were created which formed the foundations for the legislation on occupational safety and health. In 1883 the Trades Inspectorate was established as a supervisory authority. At the same time, occupational health surveillance and safety technologies were developed, as well as the social insurance system with its tasks in the fields of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
In this way, the country already had a well-developed occupational safety and health system when it became a member of the European Union in 1995. However, accession to the EU led to the systematic further development of new concepts and many regulations.
In Austria, occupational safety and health is understood as the protection of the lives and the health of employees in the workplace. The basic idea behind this concept is the protection of persons who are in a situation in which they are financially dependent on their employer. The self-employed are therefore not generally covered by the regulations on occupational safety and health.
Regulations on working hours, the adherence to driving times and the working conditions of pregnant women and young persons also form part of occupational safety and health. Labour law issues such as employment contracts, collective agreements or matters of social insurance law are, however, a separate field. Combating wage and social dumping is therefore not the task of occupational safety and health.
Attempts are being made to resolve old and new challenges in occupational safety and health by more intensive networking between the different actors in the field. Alongside the statutory obligation for the authorities and the social insurance system to work together, or the compulsory regular consultations with the social partners, voluntary cooperation has also been strengthened. Since 2007 there have been multi-annual national occupational safety and health strategies in which all national actors are represented. The themes are above all the prevention of accidents at work, work-related illnesses, the assessment of risks, raising awareness for safety and health at work, and initial and further training in occupational safety and health.
"who is who" in Occupational Safety and Health (leaflet) (pdf-1035 kB)