Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mexico - New Regulations for Occupational Safety & Health ("OSH") Entered into Force in Mexico

By Juan Nájera

In line with the International Labour Organization’s (“ILO”) Conventions, the federal government of Mexico enacted new OSH Regulations that came into force as of February 13, 2015.

These regulations are mandatory for all employers, regardless of the type of work being performed at their facilities, although supplementary regulations may apply for dangerous industries or activities.

The following are among the most important obligations for employers under these new regulations:

• Conduct a diagnostic assessment of OSH conditions at every place of work, including an assessment of related risks and implement OSH Programs based on these;
• Obtain and maintain all required diagnostics, reports and certificates of compliance with OSH regulations;
• Place warning signs at every place of work;
• Identify and control environmental polutants at every place of work;
• Order any and all medical test for all employees having an occupational exposure to risk factors;
• Provide all necessary protective gear for employees;
• Maintain records and report any incidents, accidents, injuries or deaths which occur in the place of work;
• Report and properly maintain any pressurized or criogenic vessels, boilers, steam or other generators;
• Ensure oversight of compliance by any contractors, subcontractors or suppliers working within the main employer’s facilities;
• Establish procedures for authorizing the performance of any risky or dangerous activities at the place of work;
• Organize and record OSH Joint Commissions at every place of work;
• Establish OSH Preventive Services systems at every place of work;
• Establish Medical Preventive Services systems at every place of work;

The following subjects or activities are now regulated:

• Buildings, sites, facilities or places of work;
• Fire prevention and protection;
• Use of machinery, equipment and tools;
• Handling, transportation and storage of materials and dangerous chemicals;
• Driving motor vehicles;
• Working above or under ground or water or in confined spaces;
• Pressurized or criogenic vessels, boilers, steam or other generators;
• Static electricity and electrical installations maintenance; and
• Cutting and soldering activities.

In general, all programs must cover the following factors:

• Noise;
• Vibration;
• Lighting conditions;
• Ionizing or non ionizing electromagnetic radiation;
• Abnormal thermal conditions or air /water pressure above or below range;
• Chemical or biological agents; and
• Ergonomic risk factors.

Also, prevention programs for health risks and addictions must be implemented and maintained by all employers on a confidential and non discriminatory basis.

These regulations are being actively enforced by the federal Ministry of Work (Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social -STPS-) through its local delegate offices in every state and major city.

The sanction for non compliance will be fines of between USD$250 and USD$25,000 per occurrence, which might be duplicated in case of reincidence (without prejudice to any related civil or criminal liability).

Also, the competent authorities may order mandatory modifications or alterations to the places of work, machinery, equipment, tools, installations, etc., required to meet applicable regulations.