The Labor Safety and Health Act was promulgated on April 16, 1974, and was fully revised in 1991; in the 22 years since it has undergone no significant further revision. According to the implication of "the right of working in safe and healthy environment" revealed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Convention (No. 155) (1981) and the regulation that there should be no difference between industries, however, this Act is applicable to only 14 industries, including the construction and manufacturing industries, and is only directed at employed workers, and is thus clearly dismatch the international consensus on protection of worker health and safety being a fundamental human right; the Act thus being revised.
Against a backdrop of globalization in recent years, the pursuit of international competitiveness by enterprises has left workers facing a working environment, long working hours and heavy workload; in addition, the innovation of new materials, new substances and new technologies might expose workers to new risks so as to make occupational health and safety face new challenges.
International organizations have, in succession, taken concrete action and achieved real progress with regards to workers' mental and physical health, safe utilization of chemicals and intrinsical safety design of machines, equipment and appliances and other issues; for example, many countries have adopted source control to prevent machinery, equipment, appliance or chemical risk causing hazard, establishing laws that stipulate that manufacturers and importers must not manufacture or import machinery, equipment or appliances that does not meet the requirements of health and safety standards. Laws have also been established to standardize chemical product registration, assessment and licensing system. With regards to machinery safety and hazardous chemicals, the existing law only covers end-of-pipe management when employer makeslabors work, a situation that lags behind the international trend and is not beneficial to guaranteeing labor health and safety and the raising of international competitiveness.
To strengthen occupational accident prevention and health and safety protection for workers the CLA, Executive Yuan has put forward a draft amendment to the Labor Safety and Health Act and amends the name to the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The bill was submitted to the Legislative Yuan by the Executive Yuan for examination on November 22, 2012, and has been passed third reading on June 18, 2013.
This amendment bill has 55 articles, with the following six amendment focus:
1. Expand health and safety protection for workers
The applicability of this Act to employed workers in all industries, the self-employed and all others whose labor is directed or supervised by a workplace responsible person is clearly stated. The number of protected persons has been thus increased from 6.9 million to just over 10.67 million. As well as making clear the responsibilities of the employer, the safety responsibilities or manufacturers and importers and other related parties are all made clear.
2. Establish a machinery, equipment, appliance and chemical source management system
(1) Machinery, equipment and appliances designated by the central competent authority cannot be manufactured or transported out of the factory or imported if not meet safety standards or not been certified; with respect to machinery, equipment and appliances that has not been announced as type testing verified and meets the requirements of safety standards, manufacturers or importers should publicize it by means of registration and safety label.
(2) Establish evaluation, authorization and future-reference management mechanisms for new chemical substance, controlled chemical and priority-management chemical; add the obligation of providing or disclosing safety data sheet, preparing inventory list and implementing training and education for hazardous chemical manufacturers, importers, suppliers or employers of workers working with such chemicals, and in accordance with their hazard, dispersion and utilization quantity, assess exposure risk and adopt control banding management measures.
3. Build a complete occupational disease prevention system, strengthen protection of the mental and physical health of workers
(1) To prevent worker over fatigue, mental stress and musculoskeletal disorder, protection of worker physiological and psychological health will be strengthened, clearly stating that with respect to prevention of work related diseases brought on by long working hours or over abnormal workload, illegal infringement of mind or body as a result of the actions of other when carrying out work, musculoskeletal disorder brought on by repetitive work, and other matters, appropriate plans should be formulated and the necessary health and safety measures adopted.
(2) For the potential health-hazard work place, employers should carry out work place monitoring; the monitoring plan and results should be publicly announced and reported to the central competent authority.
(3) Strengthen worker health management, clearly stating that employers cannot use the results of health examinations for any purpose other than health management, and should adopt ranked management of health examination results.
(4) Stipulate that, when the number of workers reaches a certain level, businesses that have been designated by the central competent authority as being required to do so should hire or commission a medical professional to carry out worker health management, occupational disease prevention and health promotion and other worker health protection items.
4. Pay attention to both maternity protection and employment equality, revising maternity protection regulations for female workers
In coordination with the revisions of the ILO's Maternity Protection Convention 2000 and the implementation of Taiwan's Enforcement Act of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the rule that prohibits ordinary female workers from engaging in dangerous or harmful work will be revoked; the types and scope of dangerous or harmful work that pregnant women or women who have given birth in the last year are prohibited from engaging in will be adjusted; the stipulation that businesses designated by the central competent authority should adopt hazard assessment, control and ranked management measures with respect to work that could be a threat to maternal health will be added; with respect to pregnant women or women who have given birth in the last year, work adjustment or change health protection measures should be adopted.
5. Strengthen high-risk business regularly implementing process safety assessment and supervision and increase penalties for illegal matters
(1) With respect to petroleum cracking industries, add the stipulation of carrying out regular process safety assessment
and reporting to the relevant labor inspection agency.
(2) In coordination with the revision of the Act's clauses, revise penalty provisions taking into account the practical situation and add publicly announcing the names of business units and
responsible persons and other penalties.
6. Promote workplace health and safety culture and the development of related industries
(1) To encourage local competent authorities and the competent authority for industry to actively plan the promotion of occupational health and safety measures, add the regulation that central competent authority can implement performance evaluation and reward.
(2) Add a stipulation that, with respect to improving of matters that do not conform to regulations, business units can contract consulting organizations approved by the central competent authority to provide specialized technical assistance to ensure service quality.
With the changes in industrial structure and society in recent years, labor health and safety faces stern challenges. This draft amendment is of great significance in terms of protecting the fundamental rights of workers in Taiwan and promoting international competitiveness. The Act enables Taiwan to build a complete occupational health and safety protection system so as to effectively protectthe health and safety of all workers.