22.01.2021 OHS (BHP)

[Poland] Hazardous biological agents – changes for employers

On 29 December 2020, the decree of the Minister of Health came into force, amending the existing regulations for hazardous biological agents in the workplace and health protection of employees professionally exposed to these agents. This change in regulations forces employers to update their occupational risk assessments.

The decree of the Minister of Health of 11 December 2020 introduced changes which directly affect employers’ obligations. The most important change involves the regulation of the issue related to the risk of coronavirus infection. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was assigned to biohazard group 3 and was defined as acute respiratory distress syndrome 2.

Decree of the Minister of Health – what obligations for employers?

The updated decree amending the regulations for hazardous biological agents in the workplace and health protection of employees professionally exposed to these agents affects the obligations of employers who employ workers under conditions of exposure to biological agents.

The amendment makes it necessary for employers to update the assessment of occupational risks to which an employee is or may be exposed:

  • for acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – within 30 days after the date of entry into force of the new decree,
  • for the rest of agents until 20 November 2021.

An occupational risk assessment may change the risk category and make periodic trainings necessary for all workers, including the administrative and office ones. Employers, having conducted the risk assessments, should make their employees familiar with them by collecting appropriate declarations.

Pursuant to Article 237³ § 2² of the Labour Code, periodic training of an employee referred to in § 2 is not required if an employee works in an administrative and office position and if the employer’s predominant business activity, as defined by the provisions on public statistics, belongs to a group of activities for which no higher than the third risk category has been determined within the meaning of the provisions on social insurance against occupational accidents and diseases, unless it results from the risk assessment referred to in Article 226 item 1 that it is necessary.

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