Occupational Health and Safety in the Public Service

Verified 01 January 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

As a public official, you benefit from various devices designed to guarantee your health and safety at work.

Your employer administration must ensure your safety and the protection of your health.

Your premises and work facilities must be designed to ensure your safety and that of the users.

Your work rooms must be kept in a constant state of cleanliness and must have the conditions of hygiene and safety necessary for your health and those of the users.

Your employing authority appoints one or more health and safety inspectors.

They are responsible for providing an inspection function in the area of health and safety.

The role of the health and safety inspector is in particular to monitor the conditions under which the health and safety rules are applied.

Within this framework, he has free access to all premises and workplaces and to the registers and documents required by the regulations.

In the event of an emergency, he shall propose to the administration such immediate measures as he considers necessary.

The administration shall inform him of the action taken on his proposals.

The health and safety inspector shall receive training prior to taking up his duties and continuous training.

An occupational health and safety register is opened in each service.

This register shall be made available to staff and, where appropriate, to users.

You can include your comments and suggestions on preventing occupational risks and improving working conditions.

The register of health and safety at work shall be made available to the health and safety inspector.

General case

You can receive training in health and safety when you take up your duties.

You can also benefit from this training if you are exposed to new risks as a result of a change in functions, techniques, equipment or a transformation of the premises.

This training is organized in the following situations:

  • Accident at work In the case of a serious occupational disease which has resulted in the death of a man, or which appears likely to result in permanent incapacity, or which has revealed the existence of a serious danger, even if the consequences have been avoided
  • Accident at work In the event of an occupational disease or disease occurring repeatedly at the same or similar workstations, or in the same or similar functions

Accident at work This training may also be organized at the request of the occupational doctor for staff returning to work after a work stoppage following an occupational disease or an occupational disease.

In each service where dangerous work is carried out, one or more staff members must be trained in first aid in an emergency.

The aim of the hygiene and safety training is to make you aware of the precautions to be taken to ensure your safety, that of your colleagues and, if necessary, that of the users.

This training normally takes place at the workplace.

This training shall focus in particular on the following:

  • Traffic conditions at the workplace and in particular emergency exits and clearances
  • Conditions governing the performance of the work and, in particular, the behavior to be adopted at the various work stations and the operation of protective and emergency devices.
  • Arrangements to be made in the event of an accident or disaster and liabilities incurred.
Staff representatives on the Social Committee

If you are a staff representative (incumbent or alternate) on the Social Committee, you receive at least 5 days of training during your term of office.

It shall be renewed on each mandate.

The aim of this training is to develop your ability to detect and measure occupational risks and your ability to analyze working conditions.

This course also aims to introduce you to the methods and processes to implement to prevent occupational risks and improve working conditions.

For 2 of the 5 days of training, you can benefit from a leave for training in occupational health and safety.

You must send your request for leave in writing to your line authority at least 1 month before the start of the training.

Your request must include the following information:

  • Date you want to take your leave
  • Description and cost of training
  • Name and address of the selected training organization.

The administration should respond at least 15 days before the start of the training.

Leave may be refused only if operational requirements do not allow you to leave on the scheduled dates.

Your training costs and travel and residence are supported by the administration.

Upon your return from training, you must provide your administration with a proof of attendance.

In case of absence without valid reason, you must reimburse the administration the expenses covered.

An occupational health service shall be set up in each administration. Its role is to prevent any deterioration in the health of staff as a result of their work.

The occupational physician shall be separate from the approved medical officer responsible for physical fitness checks and from the medical officer.

Your general suitability for public employment is checked by the licensed medical practitioner.

The occupational doctor checks the compatibility of your state of health with the working conditions related to the position you occupy.

The examining doctor checks, at the request of your employer's administration, whether you are genuinely unable to work because of illness or accident.

The occupational physician shall advise the administration, agents and their representatives at the CCOHS on the following matters:

  • Occupational Risk Assessment
  • Protection against all forms of nuisance and the risks of accidents at work or occupational diseases
  • Adaptation of posts, techniques and work patterns to human physiology, with a view to contributing to the retention of staff
  • General hygiene of service premises
  • Hygiene in administrative restaurants
  • Health information.

In each department, the occupational doctor shall draw up and periodically update a list of the occupational risks in the department and the number of staff exposed.

This statement shall be communicated to the employer's administration and kept at the disposal of the staff.

It shall be submitted to the Social Committee at the same time as an annual report by the occupational doctor.

The occupational doctor shall inform the employer's administration in writing of the health risks of the workers he observes which are related to the working environment.

The occupational physician must be consulted on major construction or fitting-out projects for administrative buildings and modifications to equipment.

He must be informed before any use of dangerous substances or products, of the composition of these products and of the nature of these substances and their conditions of use.

The occupational doctor may ask the administration to have samples and measurements taken.

The occupational health service shall be informed as soon as possible by the employer's administration of each accident at work and each occupational disease.

In accordance with medical confidentiality, the occupational doctor shall inform the employer's administration of any risk of epidemics.

What's this about?

The right of withdrawal shall consist in the possibility for any staff member to leave his post in the following circumstances:

  • He has reasonable grounds to believe that he is in grave and imminent danger to his life or health
  • And/or it finds a defect in the protection systems.


An officer who is in a work situation of serious and imminent danger shall immediately alert his or her supervisor and may withdraw from such a situation.

It may also inform a staff representative on the Social Committee. The latter shall immediately alert the Head of Service and record the event in a special register kept under the responsibility of the Head of Service. This register of serious and imminent dangers shall be kept at the disposal of the members of the Social Committee, the occupational health and safety inspectors and the labor inspectorate.

Any notice on the register shall be dated and signed and shall contain the following information:

  • Indication of the workstations concerned
  • Nature and cause of danger
  • Name of exposed person(s)
  • Measures taken by the Head of Service to remedy the situation.

The head of department shall immediately carry out an investigation, if necessary with the representative of the social committee who has informed him of the danger, and shall take the necessary steps to remedy it.

It shall inform the Social Committee of the decisions taken.

In the event of any disagreement as to the reality of the danger or how to put an end to it, the Social Committee shall meet within 24 hours. The labor inspector shall be informed of this meeting and may attend it.

The administration shall decide on the measures to be taken after obtaining the opinion of the Social Committee. In the event of disagreement between the administration and the social committee on the measures to be taken and the conditions for their implementation, the matter must be referred to the labor inspector.

No penalty or withholding of wages may be imposed on an officer or group of officers who have withdrawn from a work situation which presented a serious and imminent danger to their life or health.

The Administration may not require an agent to resume activity if a serious and imminent danger persists, in particular due to a defect in the protection system.

Some missions are incompatible with the exercise of the right of withdrawal, as it would jeopardize the actual performance of those missions. This concerns, in particular, the tasks of rescue and the safety of persons and property.