According to Italian law, all employers must insure their workers against accidents, injuries, and occupational diseases that could be contracted during their profession.
More specifically, the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) is responsible for covering any injury that:
- Occurred for a violent cause, i.e., generated by external aggressions that damage the worker’s psychophysical integrity. This category typically covers injuries caused by machinery, equipment or toxic and noxious substances.
- Occurred during work, i.e., derived from the existence of a cause-and-effect relationship between the work activities and the injury that affects the worker.
- Resulted in death, permanent disability or total temporary disability of the worker for three days, excluding the day of the accident.
It is emphasized that, whereas an accident occurs with the machine and this accident cannot be cured within three days of the event, the employer must obligatorily forward the accident report/communication to INAIL within a maximum of two days from receiving the medical certificate (art.53 DPR 1124/1965). This report must instead take place within twenty-four hours from the event if the accident resulted in the worker’s death.
Before being more specific about the merits of the actions that the employer must perform in the event of a work accident happening to one of his workers, it is essential to review the definition of this specific occurrence.
What is a work accident?
Although there is no actual regulatory definition of work accidents, it is possible to refer to the Consolidate Law (T.U.) of the provisions on compulsory insurance (Presidential Decree no. 1124 of June 30, 1965) later amended by the Legislative Decree no. 38/2000.
From the T.U. it should be noted that “The insurance includes all cases of accidents occurring due to violent causes at work, resulting in an absolute or temporary work incapacity involving absence from work for longer than three days.”
As you can very well understand, a work accident must therefore be interpreted as any harmful event that damages the psychophysical integrity of an operator during the ordinary course of their profession.
Essential elements of work accidents will therefore include the nefarious event, the worker’s physical trauma, the act of working and the violent cause.
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What the employer must do when an employee gets injured
If an employee is a victim of a work accident, the employer is subjected to specific obligations.
The moment they learn of the harmful event, the employer must – as already mentioned – notify INAIL through a specific report or communication. This is required by Article 53 of the Consolidated Law on compulsory insurance provisions (as well as by the provisions about communication, from art.18, co. 1, letter R, legislative decree n.81 of 2008 on workplace safety).
This rule emphasizes that the obligation always falls on the employer, “regardless of any assessment regarding the recurrence of the legal extremes for indemnity.”
The accident report will change according to the extent of the accident and the prognosis of the worker who suffered the harmful event.
In this sense, the employer will have to proceed as follows:
- He might only communicate the accident if the event has resulted in a prognosis according to which the worker will not be able to carry out their work for at least one day (following that of the accident) or extended up to three days. The obligation to communicate (as required by art.18, co.1, letter R) will, in this case, have exclusively informative and statistical purposeful for the National Information System for Prevention in the Workplace (SINP). The rule will be in force every time an accident occurs. The accident report alone must be submitted within 48 hours from receiving the medical certificate.
- He will have to report the accident if the worker is subject to a prognosis longer than three days (in addition to the day of the event). Unlike the previous, straightforward communication, in this case the report will be essential for the insurance protection to operate and for INAIL to indemnify the accident. At the same time, the complaint will also fulfill the obligation to communicate the previous point. The report must be made within 48 hours if the prognosis is longer than three days (beyond that of the accident), or within 24 hours since the event if the work accident has caused death or danger of death for the employee.
It is also crucial to remember that the employer must make the report electronically by filling in the “4 bis R.A.” form available on the INAIL website. It is also important to specify that, if the employer does not report the accident or communicate it too late, the legislator may impose sanctions, as per Article 53 of the Consolidated Law on Finance. and art. 18, paragraph 1, letter r), of Legislative Decree 81/2008 regarding the protection of health and safety in the workplace.
Delegating functions in the field of workplace safety
Article 16 of the Consolidated Law on Occupational Safety indicates that the employer may delegate some of their functions according to specific limits and conditions:
- That they result from a written document bearing a specific date.
- That the delegate possesses all the requisites of professionalism and experience required by the specific nature of the delegated functions.
- That they attribute to the delegate all the powers of organization, management and control required by the specific nature of the delegated functions.
- That they attribute to the delegate the spending autonomy necessary to performing the delegated functions.
- That the delegation is accepted and signed by the delegate.
However, it is critical to keep in mind that the employer will not be able to delegate the risk assessment activities with consequent processing of the document provided for, in Article 28, nor the designation of the Head of the Risk Prevention and Protection Service.
The employer will directly fulfill these obligations.
As mentioned, the delegation of specific functions must also be drawn up in full compliance with the regulatory principles enshrined in Article 16, such as the written form, the particular date and the autonomy of spending. The latter refers to the fact that the delegated appointed by the employer will be able to autonomously manage the financial resources necessary to adequately carry out the tasks that they have been entrusted with.
Ultimately, the delegation of functions in the field of occupational safety must comply with specific requirements to be effective:
- It must be formal, direct, clear, detailed in substance, and made known so as to be understood unequivocally by the employees.
- It must be explicitly accepted by the delegate in charge, in writing and on documentation bearing a specific date.
- The delegate in question must possess the professional skills and experience necessary to best perform the functions required by the employer.
The most significant benefit of the delegation of functions in work safety is to make the company’s work simpler and more effective. Therefore, it should not be interpreted as a discharge or responsibility but, on the contrary, as a collaborative relationship, a virtuous interaction with the sole goal of improving safety in the workplace.
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