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Communication with the Labour Inspectorate will move to self-service

18.09.2019


The Labour Inspectorate is developing a working life information system which includes a working environment self-service and will be one of the options for managing the working environment that will simplify the work of entrepreneurs and reduce the administrative burden and bureaucracy. 

The new working environment self-service will provide to the entrepreneur a clear overview of what the state expects from the employer in the field of occupational health and safety, while allowing all the necessary activities to be done more easily. The time-consuming exchange of documents via e-mail and the accompanying additional communication will no longer be necessary. The self-service will provide a user-friendly communication channel between employers and the Labour Inspectorate. The system keeps an eye on the company’s basic working environment requirements and informs the employer of any deficiencies that it discovers, along with further guidelines for necessary actions. The company, in turn, can fulfil its obligations to the state via the self-service.

The system automatically creates accounts for companies with data already known to the state, so the company does not have to re-enter the data once submitted. In the self-service, for example, the first thing you can do is to appoint your working environment specialist or specify a working environment representative chosen by employees, which so far had to be done in writing or via e-mail. Thereafter, an authorised user, such as a working environment specialist, can already start to engage in the issues of occupational health and safety. ‘It is important for the entrepreneur to understand that preventing hazards in the workplace is not an annoying task, but it also helps to prevent unexpected failures within the company – for example, if one of the employees is involved in an accident at work or falls ill,’ says Rauno Piirsalu, the project manager of the working life information system of the Labour Inspectorate. ‘Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as in such cases, it is difficult to find a replacement. Occupational safety and the prevention of accidents can literally help to reduce the business risks of an entrepreneur, but we have thousands of accidents at work every year.’ 

A clear overview

The self-service environment will be simple and convenient. ‘In the future, it will be possible for entrepreneurs to address safety issues step by step in the self-service. Above all, entrepreneurs can manage the working environment of their company, and in the background, the system indicates to the Labour Inspectorate that this company has taken up working environment issues,’ emphasises Piirsalu. ‘Initially, an employer can specify the necessary roles in the self-service, that is, find or appoint a person among their employees who will deal with working environment issues in the company. They will select a first aid provider and, if necessary, a working environment representative. In the second development phase, enterprise-specific services will be added – for example, a risk assessment tool will help you to identify workplace hazards associated with your industry and check if risk prevention solutions have already been implemented. Among other things, the self-service also includes the possibility of registering employee coaching.’

For example, if the worker responsible for occupational health and safety has changed positions, the system reminds the entrepreneur to assign a new person to that role. The self-service will signal when a role is vacant and remind it to the entrepreneur. Similarly, the system will give a reminder when an employee has not been instructed. Compared to current solutions, the future self-service is a big step forward, as each company will get a real-time overview of their situation when entering the self-service. 

No additional costs

The Labour Inspectorate finds it important that the working environment of companies is safe. When dealing with working environment issues in the self-service, the corresponding indicators change from red to green accordingly. The labour inspector, for their part, can see that the company is concerned with occupational safety, so that in the future labour inspectors will primarily visit companies where the working environment is neglected or for which data are not available.

Life has shown that risk assessment of the working environment has proved too difficult for small businesses. It is often not understood why and how to do it, so they let a service provider do it. ‘Such a service can cost from about 500 up to 3,000 euros, but even a net cost of 500 euros is a considerable amount for a small business,’ says Rainer Rohtla from the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, who is responsible for the successful development of the portal, and emphasises that the new system gives an opportunity for the entrepreneurs to conclude the risk assessment process easily by themselves, while also saving money. For example, the following test questions must be answered: Does the company use damaged extension cords (electrical hazard)? Does the company own a tested and operational fire extinguisher (fire hazard)? You will answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and after that, the system will make a summary of the relevant questions, also giving recommendations for improvement. When answering the questionnaire, the occupational safety worker will also think about their working environment. The more knowledgeable the working environment specialist is, the more likely they are to manage potential risks and the working environment is safer for them and their colleagues.

The new self-service should also be suitable for businesses because it reduces paperwork and eliminates existing piles of paper. Much of the data can be stored in the self-service and managing the information will be easier. If a company is supervised and the labour inspector comes to check the working environment on site, they will have access to the data in the system beforehand and they will be able to pre-screen the situation in the company. This will save time for both the entrepreneur and the inspector. 

Good to know

  1. The new information system has three main user groups: employers, employees, and the Labour Inspectorate. In the first phase (first quarter of 2020), the information system’s base, self-service, and supervision module will be developed.
  2. In the second phase (first quarter of 2021), self-service tools will be added to help entrepreneurs to more easily identify the most common workplace hazards associated with their business. Due to the solutions offered in the information system, risk mitigation activities can also be planned.
  3. Those who feel insecure or experience troubles when using the self-service can count on the Labour Inspectorate to provide guidance and advice when needed. 
  4. The proceedings become easier and more efficient. Simple questions can be conveniently asked through the self-service without the need for drafting a formal letter to the Labour Inspectorate. The same applies to supervision. If an inspector detects something dangerous (for example, prohibits the use of a dangerous tool), then after eliminating the hazard, the entrepreneur logs into the self-service from a computer or a telephone, adding, for example, a new photo of the situation where the problem is solved, and the issue is settled. It is no longer necessary to send a separate e-mail with supporting evidence for each infringement. 
  5. It is clear and precise what is expected of the entrepreneur. First, it shows the activities that should be immediately taken care of. It is followed by an overview of the next measures to be taken to make the working environment safe. 
  6. The goal of the Labour Inspectorate is not to punish, but to draw attention to the occupational safety deficiencies of the company to make the working environment safe. With the help of the self-service, we can better inform, advise, and help companies to create a safe working environment.

Find out more:

You can find the project introduction page on the Work Life Portal: www.tooelu.ee/uus

Test the service

As an entrepreneur, you have the opportunity to participate and be a tester of the system (please see the link ‘I wish to participate in the self-service testing if possible’) and give the developers your feedback. The purpose of this is bringing the new self-service into accordance with needs and making it user-friendly. 

Small business owner Eva Lepik, hostess of the shop Kiiks ja Knihv:

‘I have a small company with two employees. The volume of tasks that should be handled and sent to the Labour Inspectorate on paper is quite immense. It would be great if all of it could be done online.

As a small entrepreneur, I would like a summary of all the information so that I know exactly what I should do. I have made safety videos, for example. It would be good if they could be uploaded to the self-service for our employees. The Labour Inspectorate also sees that I have instructed my employees on how to use the paper-cutting guillotine without damaging their fingers. Right now, the videos are on my computer.

I would like to have a compact online environment telling me that I have not done this or that for my employees, but I should do so. As a small entrepreneur, you are in many roles anyway – from marketer to cleaner – so it would be good to know what is expected of me.’ 

The Labour Inspectorate and the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre are developing the working life information system in cooperation with Trinidad Wiseman OÜ and TripleDev OÜ. The development is financed by the European Social Fund.

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Communication with the Labour Inspectorate will move to self-service

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