What are the employer’s obligations in the event of an employee having symptoms of an occupational disease?
An occupational disease is caused by factors harmful to health, occurring in the work environment, or by the way of performing work. It arises as a result of a constant body position in an uncomfortable position, systematic performance of strenuous activities or regular stay in an environment containing harmful factors (noise, inadequate lighting, dust, radiation, chemical compounds, increased mental and physical stress, etc.). The employer is obliged to immediately report each case of a recognized occupational disease, as well as any suspicion of such a disease, to the competent state sanitary inspector and the competent district labor inspector. If an employee has symptoms of an occupational disease, the employer is obliged to take appropriate preventive measures, i.e .:
- determine, in consultation with the competent state sanitary inspector, the causes of an occupational disease as well as the nature and extent of the risk of this disease,
- immediately start removing the factors causing the occupational disease and apply the necessary preventive measures,
- ensure the implementation of medical recommendations, eg more frequent medical examinations, taking breaks at work.
The employer is obliged to keep a register of identified occupational diseases and suspected diseases. If an employee has symptoms of an occupational disease, the employer should transfer him / her to another job where there is no exposure to the harmful factors causing these symptoms. The transfer is made by the employer on the basis of a medical certificate, within the time and date specified therein. The transfer to another job should be treated as an order, the refusal of the employee to carry out a serious breach of employee duties and may be grounds for dismissal. If the employer is unable to transfer the employee to another job in which he will not be exposed to the factor causing the occupational disease, he may terminate the employee’s employment contract for this reason. During the notice period, the employer should send the employee on vacation or release him from the obligation to perform work.
The same rules should apply when an employee becomes incapable of performing his previous work due to an occupational disease and has not been recognized as incapable of work under the provisions on pensions from the Social Insurance Fund.