The Spanish health and safety system is something rather complicated. First of all, to be understood, you must be conscious that their philosophical approach is paternalistic, where the focus is on what is done or not done, rather than the results and where the employer is the most responsible for it.
It is a highly bureaucratized system where everything has a legal screen and for some years very judicial. It is already very difficult to find Health & Safety Advisors who have not passed through a court due to some accident.
It is a great paradox where the people most concerned with Health and Safety are the most aggrieved by the system.
If you want to work in Spain in the field of Health and Safety, the first thing you should do is train yourself strongly in European laws, national laws, regional laws and even local laws at a legislative level.
Although there are three levels of technician (Basic, Intermediate and High), the fact is that the labor market is only composed of high technicians (equivalent to Diploma IOSH) and basic technicians for control of specific operations (work at heights, work in confined spaces, etc.)
This causes a very expensive system, where companies, besides paying quotas to ensure attendance by accident or occupational disease to the Spanish national health system, must have liability policies and hire external health & safety services in most cases. Is important to understand that the Spanish market is a relatively small business market.
All of this is compounded by the constant change of laws that has occurred since the implementation of the Law on Occupational Health and Safety (1995) until today that is causing to everyone involved in the system a great level of uncertainty when is taking decisions.
Another peculiar aspect of the system is training and development. While Health & Safety professionals are highly qualified (they must have a degree and a masters in Health & Safety) and are controlled by strict regulations, training workers is uncontrolled and regulation merely says that “training have to be sufficient and necessary for every job”. Although sectors such as construction, metal or glass and ceramics have come in recent years to establish their own training system for all workers.
Finally, in regards salary level, we can say that Health & Safety professionals in Spain are in the lower parts of the pay scales in comparison to their training and responsibility that the legislation gives them.
This was a guest post written by Juan Pedro García Calvo, a health and safety professional from Madrid, Spain.
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