Procedural operations in the exercise of supervision

One of the functions of the Labour Inspectorate is to carry out monitoring, within the limits of the powers conferred on it by law, of employers’ compliance with obligations arising from legislation on occupational health, occupational safety, and employment relationships. The purpose of this supervision is to facilitate and proactively ensure the creation of a safe, secure, and healthy working environment.

Supervision is exercised by the Supervisory Department of the Labour Inspectorate.

In the course of a general inspection visit, the labour inspector investigates:

  • the general condition of the company’s working environment;
  • the activities of the employer in the performance of obligations relating to the working environment;
  • the activities of the employer in the management of employment relationships and the working and rest time regime;
  • compliance with the obligation of temporary work agencies and private employment agencies to submit a notice of economic activities.

Example: A company is visited to check whether a risk analysis has been prepared and to investigate the supervision of employees, the working conditions of employees, the issuance and use of personal protective equipment, workplace safety, and the safety of work equipment, as well as the documents of posted workers, the provision of first aid, the informing of employees about working conditions, compliance with working and rest time restrictions, the working conditions of minors, etc.

In the course of a targeted inspection visit, checks are carried out to verify compliance with requirements arising from legislation on employment relationships, occupational health, and occupational safety in pre-defined areas of the working environment or fields of activity. The aim is to increase the awareness of both employees and employers about the hazards present in the working environment and the options to prevent them, as well as to assist and advise employers in creating a healthy working environment.

Example: Timber companies are visited to carry out targeted inspections of, for example, the safety of their equipment. In the course of nationwide targeted inspections, compliance with working and rest time requirements is checked at, for example, filling stations.

Summaries of past targeted inspections can be found under the relevant year on the Statistics page.

Monitoring involves investigating a specific activity or the implementation of measures in the working environment by employers.

Where monitoring reveals any shortcomings, the labour inspector will initiate supervision proceedings. Upon the discovery of work equipment which poses a threat to an employee’s life or health or of a violation of the requirements established for a workplace, the labour inspector will initiate misdemeanour proceedings.

Example: inspection of biohazard control measures (e.g., for COVID-19); safety of scaffolding for use by employees on construction sites, compliance with safety requirements for working on roofs.

When exercising supervision, the labour inspector investigates:

  • compliance with drivers’ working, driving, and rest time requirements;
  • compliance with the requirements regarding the use of driver cards and data retention in the case of motor vehicles with a digital tachograph;
  • compliance with the conditions prescribed for the remuneration of drivers;
  • compliance with occupational health and safety requirements.

Inspections of new or reconstructed buildings are performed at the request of the local government. These requests are submitted via the Register of Buildings (Ehitisregister – EHR).

Exercising supervision in this way allows us to gain an overview of the companies and to save time for all parties in the course of the inspection. Companies can upload documents (safety instructions, risk analyses, etc.) required to be checked by the Labour Inspectorate and enter the necessary details (working environment specialist, first aid provider, working environment representative, etc.) into an information system. The inspector can then examine them to identify any violations and decide whether in-person supervision is needed.

The inspector checks whether the undertaking has complied with the notification obligation set out in § 38 of the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act, i.e. whether they have submitted a notice of economic activities for engagement in employment mediation and/or mediation of temporary agency work, and whether the undertaking has charged a fee to jobseekers in the case of employment mediation or to temporary agency workers in the case of mediation of temporary agency work for placement in temporary agency work.

Procedural operations in the exercise of supervision

When exercising supervision, an official of the Labour Inspectorate has the right to enter the workplace selected for inspection for the purpose of exercising supervision (without prior notice, if necessary), receive any information necessary for exercising supervision, examine relevant documents, receive free copies thereof, conduct on-site inspections, including to take photos, and interview the employer, working environment representative, working environment specialist, and employees alone or in the presence of witnesses.

While officials have a long list of rights, our purpose is, first and foremost, to help employers understand the need for managing the working environment and to get them working towards creating safe and healthy working conditions.

The Labour Inspectorate has a new digital Working Life Information System and self-service environment (Tööelu infosüsteem – TEIS), where, during supervision proceedings, employers can access all procedural information (details regarding inspections, identified shortcomings, issued precepts, penalty payment imposition warnings, and impositions of penalty payments), easily submit documents (e.g., risk analyses) and information (e.g., details of the working environment specialist or first aid provider), and quickly communicate with and seek advice from the labour inspector.

Read more about TEIS here.

When exercising supervision, a labour inspector has the right to:

  • issue a precept and demand that the identified violations be remedied;
  • issue a penalty payment imposition warning to ensure compliance with a precept;
  • impose a penalty payment;
  • appeal to a bailiff for collection of a penalty payment.

When exercising supervision, a labour inspector is required to issue a precept:

  • to suspend work which poses a threat to the life of an employee or other persons; or
  • to prohibit the use of life-threatening work equipment.

Work which poses a threat to life means, primarily, situations where work is carried out in violation of safety requirements – for example, with dangerous work equipment, hazardous chemicals, near a high-voltage power line or transformer substation – or where there is a risk of collapse due to landslide or land subsidence. But also work which involves a risk of drowning or which is performed underground (in a well or tunnel) or using explosives. Additionally, the list includes work related to the lifting, assembly, or disassembly of heavy/massive prefabricated parts, and special attention is also paid to work where the employee is subjected to a risk of falling from a height. 

Dangerous work equipment includes a variety of equipment, such as large saw blades and multi-blade saws without functional safety guards or devices. Labour inspectors should also look out for work equipment that has been modified without authorisation or which is used with accessories prohibited by the user instructions. In addition, dangerous work equipment includes large equipment that people can enter and become stuck in and for which the necessary risk mitigation measures have not been adopted.

To suspend dangerous work and prohibit the use of dangerous work equipment, the Labour Inspectorate uses special supplies: stickers and tape with special markings. 

If, in the course of exercising supervision, a labour inspector finds that an employer has violated health and safety requirements in a way that has endangered the life or health of an employee, the labour inspector, as an official of an out-of-court proceedings authority, is required to initiate misdemeanour proceedings.

Last updated: 22.06.2022