Health and safety at work
An accident costs the economy in Liechtenstein an average of CHF 1,000.00 per day. For this reason, the most important goal of health and safety at work is to protect the life and the health of each individual worker while he is exercising his professional activity.
Every employer in Liechtenstein is obliged to address the issue of health and safety at work within his enterprise. This is an expression of corporate social responsibility, because it can prevent human suffering. In addition, the establishment of a company health and safety system (German only) helps prevent the economic damage that can be caused by accidents and illnesses at the workplace. This focuses on the use of dangerous machines and tools, the handling of hazardous materials, the strains caused by working procedures or external influences as well as the design of workplaces, working areas and sanitary facilities along with precautions to prevent dangers. In addition, working hours rules, employment conditions for young employees and maternity protection are further aspects. Topics relating to personal integrity, such as mobbing, stress and burnout, sexual harassment at the workplace as well as the excessive supervision of employees are also becoming increasingly important.
The employer must assess the tasks performed in the enterprise in terms of dangers to the health and safety of employees, and must implement corresponding measures if necessary. This applies in particular to the selection of the working materials, the design of the workplaces and the working procedures. In addition, he may assign tasks that entail particular risks only to correspondingly trained employees. For their part, employees must comply with instructions issued by the employer at the workplace relating to health and safety, and are obliged to apply personal protective equipment or protective features properly and must actively support agreed measures.
Both the working space as well as the environs of the workplace affect the wellbeing and performance of people. The most important factors of influence include:
- Building and rooms
- Climate (cosiness, heat, thermal radiation, cold, UV)
- Air impurities and ventilation (sufficient fresh air)
- Noise, acoustics, vibrations
- Non-ionising radiation (laser, electro-smog, mobile phones, magnetic fields)
- Light, lighting and outside views
- Enforcement of no smoking rules
- Separate workplaces
Industrial and commercial enterprises require a permit for their plans for new plants and conversions (German only) from the Office of Economic Affairs. With corresponding planning, many of these potential disruptive factors can be avoided at the construction stage, thereby eliminating the need for costly remedial measures. Further information (German only) is available from the Office of Economic Affairs.
To boost job satisfaction, to improve results and the health of employees, workplaces, work equipment and resources should be structured and designed in accordance with ergonomic principles in order to avoid unsatisfied employees, reduced productivity, physical ailments and ultimately unnecessary downtime. This is because seated activities, workstations with computer screens, air-conditioned rooms and open-plan offices (German only) can trigger health issues such as back complaints, tension, tendon and muscle ailments, respiratory diseases or eye problems as well as psychological problems if, for example, the configuration and dimensions of workstations with computer screens monitors is not ergonomically correct.
Technical equipment and devices, in particular working materials such as machines, apparatus, tools and plants as well as personal protective equipment must be structured, used and maintained in such a way that the health and safety of employees is not jeopardised. The proper use of working materials also includes their set up and dismantlement as well as regular maintenance. The specifications of the manufacturer must be taken into account, and the operating instructions must be available at all times. Maintenance and checks must be documented in accordance with the applicable guidelines (German only). If health impairment cannot be comprehensively excluded, then the employer must provide the employee with reasonable and effective personal protective equipment (German only) that is designed to protect him from accidents or damage to health at the workplace.
Special regulations apply to printing equipment (German only). These set out rules governing their positioning, operation and maintenance. It should be noted that they must be reported to the Office of Economic Affairs in writing before they become operational, as well as in the event of significant changes. Such reports can be made using this form (German only).
Working hours and rest hours
A good balance between working hours and rest hours is an integral aspect of health protection, because this prevents fatigue as well as associated accidents. The Liechtenstein Employment Act also prescribes the minimum rest hours (German only) as well as the structuring of work rosters (German only). Night work and Sunday work are essentially prohibited, whereby statutory public holidays (German only) are treated the same as Sundays.
If night work, Sunday work or shift work is nevertheless necessary in an enterprise, permission may be requested from the Office of Economic Affairs using this form (German only).
Special protective conditions are applicable to young employees (German only) up to the age of 18 as well as to pregnant women and nursing mothers (German only), because these groups are exposed more strongly to specific risks than others.
The Employment Act also obliges employers to take the measures necessary to protect employees from psychosocial risks (German only). These include, for example, discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or religious affiliation, as well as threatened or actual physical or psychological violence. As these personal infringements not merely impair the working climate, but also reduce performance or can lead to health impairments in the respective individuals, it is important for the management to take a firm line when it comes to respectful interpersonal relations. In addition, clear rules need to be communicated about who employees can contact if they need support.
The excessive monitoring of employees or their activities or behaviour at the workplace is not permitted. It is well known that monitoring equipment can trigger negative feelings, and can impair the sense of wellbeing, the psychological health and not least the performance of employees. If monitoring or control systems (German only) are necessary for other reasons, they must be structured and configured in such a way that the health and freedom of movement of employees is not impaired.
Mobbing (German only) at work means the actions of a person or group that are systematically directed against a specific individual with the aim of ending their employment relationship. By definition, these actions take place frequently and over an extended period of time, and are subjectively interpreted as hostile by the victim.
The term sexual harassment at the workplace (German only) means any behaviour with a sexual aspect that is not wanted by one party and that undermines the dignity of a person. An incident of this nature may occur during working hours or at company events, it may be initiated by male or female employees, by employees of an affiliated enterprise or by the customers of a company. Incidents of sexual harassment are assessed solely from the perspective of the affected person, the intention of the person who caused the harassment plays no role in this.
The topic of stress and burnout (German only) is something that no employer can ignore in today’s world. Here too, sensible preventative measures can be taken. For example, work tasks should not be over-demanding or under-demanding for an employee. A well-organised working task is holistic, requires various aptitudes and skills, grants independence as well as the opportunity to interact with other people, and also offers learning and development opportunities. A challenge with a deadline promotes personal development, while a significantly under-demanding or over-demanding task, or an overly one-sided task, can increase the risk of health problems, leading to stress or burnout.
Work on a building site (construction and associated fields) is still associated with heightened risks. In order to ensure the health and safety at work (German only) of employees, it is important that all parties involved, such as employers, foremen, polishers, site managers as well as site coordinators are aware of the potential risks at all times. The following are considered to be special sources of danger:
- Shatterproof skylights (German only)
- Sun, heat, ozone (German only)
- Asbestos (German only)
- Safe scaffolding (German only)
Construction sites where the employees of different employers are employed simultaneously or successively require special site coordination (German only) in order to take all health and safety measures into account during successive construction tasks, whereby a health and safety protection plan must be drawn up for particularly hazardous tasks:
- Excavation; earthworks
- Construction work in the narrow sense
- Setting up and dismantling prefabricated construction elements
- Fixtures or fittings
- Conversion; renovation; repair; refurbishment, maintenance work; upkeep, painting and cleaning work
- Dismantlement and demolition work
Relevant laws (German only)
Industry, Commerce and Trade Employment Act (Gesetz über die Arbeit in Industrie, Gewerbe und Handel Arbeitsgesetz (ARG)) of 29 December 1966
Ordinance I to the Employment Act (Verordnung I zum Arbeitsgesetz (ArGV I)) of 22 March 2005
Ordinance II to the Employment Act (Verordnung II zum Arbeitsgesetz (ArGV II)) of 17 December 2002 concerning special provisions for specific groups of enterprises or employees
Health and Safety of Employees at Work Ordinance (Verordnung über die Sicherheit und den Gesundheitsschutz der Arbeitnehmer am Arbeitsplatz (ArGV III) of 16 June 1998
Ordinance IV to the Employment Act (Verordnung IV zum Arbeitsgesetz (ArGV IV)) of 22 March 2005 concerning industrial enterprises, planning approval and operating permits)
Ordinance V to the Employment Act (Verordnung V zum Arbeitsgesetz (ArGV V)) concerning special protective conditions and the protection of young employees of 22 March 2005
Health and Safety of Construction Workers Ordinance (Verordnung über die Sicherheit und den Gesundheitsschutz der Arbeitnehmer bei Bauarbeiten ) of 30 April 2007
Ordinance concerning the Safe use of Cranes (Verordnung über die sichere Verwendung von Kranen (Kranverordnung; – “KranV”)) of 13 November 2012
Ordinance concerning Health and Safety of Employees at Work when using Printers (Verordnung über die Sicherheit und den Gesundheitsschutz der Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer bei der Verwendung von Druckgeräten (“Druckgeräteverwendungsverordnung”)) of 15 June 2007 (status: 19 July 2016)
Industry and Trade Employment Act (“Gesetz betreffend die Arbeit in Industrie und Gewerbe - Arbeiterschutzgesetz”) of 29 November 1945
Law of 23 October 1997 on the information and consultation of employees in companies (Mitwirkungsgesetz, MWG)
Law of 23 October 2002 on the coordination of safety and health measures during construction work (Bauarbeitskoordinationsgesetz, BauKG)
Ordinance of 23 November 2004 on the Construction Work Coordination Act (Bauarbeitskoordinationsverordnung, BauKV)