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Health and safety at work — general rules

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Health and safety at work — general rules


Council Directive 89/391/EEC — measures to improve the safety and health of workers at work



It introduces measures to improve the health and safety of people at work. It sets out obligations for both employers* and employees* to reduce accidents and occupational disease in the workplace.


The directive applies to all sectors of public and private activity (industrial, agricultural, commercial, administrative, service, educational, cultural, leisure and others).

It stipulates that employers:

have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their workforce — this includes evaluating and avoiding risks, developing an overall safety policy and providing appropriate training to staff;

appoint someone responsible for the prevention of risks at work;

take the necessary first aid, fire-fighting and evacuation precautionary measures;

assess the risks particular workers might face and ensure the necessary protective measures are in place;

provide employees and/or their representatives with all relevant information on possible health and safety risks and the measures taken to prevent them;

consult employees and/or their representatives and involve them in all discussions on health and safety at work;

ensure each employee receives adequate health and safety training relevant to their job.

Other key points

Each employee is responsible for taking care, as far as possible, of their own, and their colleagues’, health and safety.

Special protection must be given to employees who may be particularly sensitive to possible risks and dangers in the workplace.

The directive does not apply to certain specific public services, such as the police, the armed forces or elements of civil protection.


* Employee: anyone working for an employer, including trainees and apprentices, but not domestic servants.

* Employer: anyone with an employment relationship with someone and responsibility for the business.



Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 89/391/EEC



OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, pp. 1-8

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003


OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, pp. 1-53

Directive 2007/30/EC



OJ L 165, 27.6.2007, pp. 21-24

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008


OJ L 311, 21.11.2008, pp. 1-54

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 89/391/EEC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 28.09.2015