We recently investigated the duties and responsibilities of the employer in the event of an accident in the workplace. Such issue was part of a broader topic related to the guarantees and duties in the field of Work Safety. We will now explore the subject matter again by discussing the security positions of the employer, the manager and the person in charge (supervisor).
First of all, we should remember that an accident in the workplace always falls within the sphere of responsibility of a specific figure: this will be the supervisor if the accident is related to the physical execution of the job; the manager if the accident is connected to the work management; and finally the employer if the accident results from management decision coming from the top of the company. These three figures are all responsible for workplace safety, and this responsibility is “de facto”, i.e., valid even when there is no specific appointment or delegation.
The position of supervision and control is always a mandatory obligation for the employer, and if they have delegated another person to apply the rules for the protection of the health and safety of the workers, the employer will always be responsible for ensuring that such tasks are transferred and appropriately applied.
In this sense, a short order issued in 2019 by the VII Criminal Section of the Supreme Court provides confirmation following the appeal lodged by an employer who, following an accident in the workplace, defended himself by claiming to have delegated the organizational profiles related to safety to other company figures.
The appeal in question was declared inadmissible because it was based on an unfounded reason, since the employer is – by nature – obliged to comply with safety requirements and responsible for them.
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The guarantees of the manager and the person in charge are based on the “de facto” implementation of preventive tasks
Having clarified this, it is still vital to underline that there are differences between the security position of the employer and that of the manager and supervisor.
In terms of Labor Criminal Law, the manager is considered the figure who performs the necessary tasks to prevent accidents at work regardless of an actual employment contract as an executive.
On the contrary, a professional figure who – despite having a managerial contract – does not manage workers and has no executive power over the employees cannot be considered a manager as far as Labor Criminal Law is concerned.
We can apply the same principle to the supervisor, who is the figure appointed to supervise all the activities performed by a group of workers of whom the supervisor is in charge. This figure is responsible for implementing all the necessary prevention and protection measures within their specific duties and competencies. More specifically, the supervisor must objectively supervise the implementation of safety requirements and subjectively monitor compliance with the provisions by all workers.
In practical terms, the person in charge will supervise – for example – the use of the necessary PPE, implement the control and maintenance plans on the machines, report non-compliance or improper behaviors to the supervisors and check for any unexpected risks in the workplace. On the other hand, the supervisor is not responsible for adopting and organizing preventive measures unless this task is expressly stated in a specific proxy.
As for the manager, they will be in charge of managing the claim attributable to the detail of the work management – as mentioned at the beginning of this article and as expressly indicated by the Criminal Court of Cassation, Section 4, August 2016, n.33630.