The Legislative Yuan passed the amendment to the Labor Safety and Health Act (the "LSHA" or "Old Law") in June 2013, by which the law was renamed as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the "OSHA" or "New Law") with the effective date to be determined by the Executive Yuan. Upon the official announcement by the Executive Yuan on June 20, 2014, except certain provisions that should not come into force until January 1, 2015, the OSHA came into force on July 3, 2014.
The New Law has an expanded scope of application and imposes stricter requirements and higher standards in all regards, which will inevitably increase an employer's operating costs and risks of violation of law. Under such circumstances, all businesses, whether they were governed by the Old Law or not, should act with care. Below is the summary of the highlights of the New Law:
- The New Law has an expanded scope of application to cover all sectors of business and all types of laborers under the law. The number of workers under the protection of the New Law will be 10.67 million, increased from 6.7 million.
- The New Law generally applies to any and all places where services are provided or labor activities take place, whether or not an employer has control over or engages in the management of these places. In response, an employer will need to take necessary precautions before their workers start a business trip to prevent occupational hazards.
- To avoid "sudden death from overwork" and other occupational diseases, the New Law added the "anti-overwork" provision, asking employers to come up with an adequate plan and take necessary safety and health measures in response to "repetitive labor work" and "unusual workloads such as rotational shifts job, night shifts job and long hours jobs". Employers violating these requirements may be penalized with fines from TWD30,000 to TWD150,000 (around USD1,000 to USD5,000). If an "occupational disease" has occurred as a result, the maximum amount of fines may be TWD300,000 (around USD10,000). Employers are also required to monitor the operating environment at workplace that may pose threat to the health of workers and to publicly disclose their monitoring plans and results which should also be reported to the regulatory authority at the central government.
- To strengthen the health management of workers, the New Law requires employers to adopt rank-based health management measures according to the results of a worker's physical examinations. A business entity with 50 or more employees should hire or use contracted medical staff to provide labor health protection services such as health management, prevention of occupational diseases and promotion of health.
- When an occupational hazard occurs at the workplace of a business entity, the employer, joined with the labor representatives, should conduct the investigations into the hazard. In the event of death caused by the accident, the employer should report to the labor inspection authority within eight hours. Also, if workers of a contractor are inflicted with occupational hazard due to violation of safety and health regulations in the contract of work, the business entity contracting the work and the contractor will be held jointly and severally liable for the hazard.
We suggest all employers act in compliance with the New Law by fully reviewing their working environment and other places where labor activities may take place and adopting higher safety and health standards and examining their occupational safety and health measures to make sure they are consistent with the requirements under the New Law. If employers have concerns over the regulations of the New Law or its application, they should discuss with lawyers specialized in this area to reduce or avoid the potential risks of violation of law.