Workplace Safety

Article 6 LTr requires the employer to take such measures as may fairly be required of him to protect the health and safety of his employees. Depending on the circumstances, the employer will have to impose the wearing of helmets or safety equipment.

 He will also be required to write a company rule or safety directive and to give instructions, especially when employees use dangerous equipment. If the employee refuses to obey these instructions, the employer must react.

Religion and the risk of accidents

In principle, the employer is obliged to respect the employee's religious freedom. However, if the employee fasts because of his religion, he may not be able to work and may cause accidents. How should the employer react to such a situation?

Impossibility to practice a profession

Following an accident, a bricklayer is definitely no longer able to practice his profession. Is the employer obliged to provide him with work that corresponds to his state of health or can he terminate the contract?


Social security contributions, in particular for accident insurance, are deducted in principle from the employee's salary. If a volunteer performs services free of charge, he or she will often not be insured against accidents, especially if he or she does not work at the same time as the volunteer activity.

Reduced vacation entitlement

When an employee is absent from work for a period of time, he or she accumulates less work-related fatigue. The law allows the employer to reduce the vacation entitlement, especially if the employee is unable to work due to an accident.

 A reduction in vacation entitlement is not possible if the employee is unable to work for a short period of time. This does not apply if the accident was caused by the employee's own fault, e.g. in the case of alcohol or drug consumption.

Company cocktail parties

At company parties, the atmosphere is more relaxed and it is not uncommon for glasses of champagne to clash. Despite this festive atmosphere, this is a professional event. Dancing on the cafeteria table, drunk driving, fights... The employer can be held responsible for accidents that may occur if employees are too drunk.

Alcohol in the Workplace

Taking drugs or alcohol in the workplace or before going to work can be very problematic. The employee can cause serious accidents. The employer is obliged to react in case of suspicion of alcohol consumption. Depending on the employee's field of activity, the employer may, under certain conditions, require the employee to take a drug test. In the event of proven consumption, the employer may issue a warning or dismiss the employee with immediate effect. But be careful! The risk of unfair dismissal is not excluded if it turns out that the employee is in fact an alcoholic or drug addict.

Accident insurance

Accident insurance covers employees when they are unable to work due to an accident. It will pay daily benefits to these employees. However, care must be taken because accident insurance coverage is subject to conditions. Employees who only work a small percentage of their time or who take a sabbatical may not be insured.

Employer's obligations

If an employee is not covered by accident insurance, this does not mean that he or she is not entitled to his or her salary in the event of incapacity for work due to an accident. The employer is still required to pay the employee's salary for a limited period of time.

On-call work

On-call work allows the employer to have a workforce available when there is an increase in workload. This type of work puts the employee in a precarious situation because he or she does not know how many hours he or she will work or what salary he or she will receive. Depending on the level of activity of the on-call worker, he or she may not be covered by accident insurance. In the event that an employee is unable to work due to an accident during a period of time when the employer is using the employee's services, the employer will be required to pay the on-call worker's salary for a limited period of time.

Unpaid leave

During a sabbatical leave, the employee's right to salary is extinguished. However, accident insurance provides that it ends a certain period of time after the employee is no longer entitled to wages. A conscientious employee should find out more before leaving for that long-awaited trip around the world! He can extend his accident insurance under certain conditions.

Accident vacation

The purpose of a vacation is to rest. The employee must be able to recover from the fatigue accumulated during the year and benefit from free time to engage in the activities of his choice.

 When an employee suffers an accident, he or she may not be able to rest. They will be able to get their vacation days back, under certain conditions.

Medical certificate

The employee must provide proof of incapacity to work. In the event of an accident, the employee will usually provide a medical certificate. The employer may have doubts about the validity of this certificate, particularly if he surprises his employee during an activity that is incompatible with his state of health. The employer can and must act quickly if he wants to safeguard his interests.

Protection against dismissal 

An employee who has suffered an accident has little chance of finding a new job because of his incapacity to work. They are protected against dismissal at the wrong time. The duration of this protection depends on the employee's years of service.

Winter sports

With the onset of winter, many employees are involved in winter sports. This increases the risk of accidents.

 Employers may be tempted to instruct their employees not to participate in certain risky sports. Is this allowed?


Breaks allow workers to recharge their batteries and eat. They should interrupt the workday. Breaks are essential to limit the risk of accidents due to excessive fatigue or inattention. The situation can be problematic if the breaks are interrupted by work... 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon