Designated Employee/Designated Worker: a vital assistant to the employer in health prevention and security at work

From mid-twentieth century, a global move towards an improvement of work conditions has been initiated, and through years has strengthened. Prevention of occupational risks became not only a legal obligation, but also a part of social and economic interest for companies, which place this issue at the heart of their strategies.

First of all, it is important to note that employer’s obligation consists of taking all the necessary measures towards safety and health protection of its employees at a workplace. These activities operate at the level of providing information, training and prevention of professional risks as well as implementation of any security mechanism. The employer, as a decision maker in a company, is the only person responsible of health and safety of workers under his authority.  Therefore, he is committed to an obligation of results, subject to a fine or conviction.

Moreover, implementing effective conservation measures must be of a high interest to the employer because work accidents may have significant financial implications. Providing a secure and safety framework contributes to the well-being of employees decreasing absenteeism and staff turnover and at the same time enhances performance.

Luxembourg law states that each firm is required to have a designated worker/designated employee (“Travailleur Désigné”). Employers, having fewer than 50 employees, can undertake this role themselves provided that they meet legal obligations. However, if a company has more than 50 workers, the employer must appoint one or several designated employees. The appointment comes further after having consulted the staff representatives.

Designated Worker: the employer’s assistant for occupational health and safety prevention

The role of the designated worker is to assist the employer in preventing occupational risks and providing safety at work. For the purpose of determining the number of designated employees, it is necessary to calculate the minimum time for the mission under a legislated formula depending on the total number of employees and the number of positions at risk. If a company has more than one site, each site with more than 200 people must ensure the presence of a designated worker.

In order to carry out his mission properly, the designed worker must satisfy some requirements. The first condition is training. Designated employee needs to fulfil a minimum qualification criteria according to the class of his company (there are 7 groups subdivided in subgroups to determine his initial training and professional experience). It is important to note that the time allocated to learning, educational and work experience requirements increases with the firm size.

The employer must ensure his additional learning with a minimum number of training hours within a certain period.

The second condition is capacity. The designated worker must be able to organize and take responsibility for overall supervision of regulatory provisions dealing with occupational health and safety.

The role of designated employee is defined by the employer and is communicated to the whole staff. When the company does not have the necessary skills to organize protection and prevention activities, the employer should enlist services of competent external experts such as an external service for prevention, an occupational medical service, etc.

Finally, it becomes clear that the designated employee is the right-hand person to the employer for health and safety issues at work. In terms of prevention, the designated worker is also a contact person for employees, inspection bodies, public institutions, external services of prevention and subcontractors. His ultimate success depends on a comprehensive well-established strategy of prevention and the definition of responsibilities in the area of prevention at every level of the organization. This requires recognizing the value of the position and formalizing the interactions between the designated employee and all the staff.