21/10/2014 | Occupational Safety and Health

What are the existing categories of preventive management?

An employer may choose from among the following categories of prevention service:


In this category, the employer is able to deal personally with the preventive activities, except for those which are related to monitoring the employees’ health. For an employer to take on the preventive activity, he or she must comply with the following requisites:

  • The company must have fewer than six employees.
  • The employer must habitually pursue his or her professional activity in the work centre.
  • He or she must have adequate training which is in line with the type of risks present in the company.
  • The company does not belong among those which are mentioned in Annex I of the Prevention Services Regulations:
    • Work which is exposed to ionising radiation.
    • Work which is exposed to toxic and highly toxic elements and, in particular to the following:
    • Carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction, categories one and two.
    • Activities in which high-risk chemical products are involved.
    • Work which is exposed to biological agents in groups 3 and 4.
    • Group 3: which may cause serious illness in man and represents a grave danger to workers, with risk of propagation to the group and there is in general a prophylaxis or effective treatment.
    • Group 4: which may cause serious illness in man and represents a grave danger to workers, which is highly likely to be propagated to the group and in the absence in general of a prophylaxis or effective treatment.
    • Activities involving the production, handling and use of explosives, including pyrotechnic items and other objects or instruments which contain explosives.
    • Activities involving immersion in water.
    • Activities on construction work, excavation, earth movement and tunnels, with a risk of falling from heights or being buried.
    • Activities in the iron and steel industry and in ship construction.
    • The production of compressed, liquefied or dissolved gases, or their significant use.
    • Work with high-voltage electrical risks.

Any preventive activities which are not taken up by the employer must be placed in the hands of external prevention services.


In this category, the employer will appoint one or more employees to deal with the preventive activity in the company. In order for an employer to select this category, he or she must comply with the following requisites:

  • The employees appointed must have received appropriate training in line with the functions to be discharged. Should the employees appointed require training, this will be imparted during working hours or will be deducted from those hours if done at other times. The cost of such training shall under no circumstances be charged to the employees.
  • The company must have fewer than 500 employees, or 250 if its activity is included in Annex 1 of the Prevention Services Regulations.

Preventive activities whose introduction means that one or more employees must be designated shall be implemented through one or more in-house or external prevention services.


The employer may decide to contract the entire preventive activity with one or more outside prevention services, except when an obligation is imposed on them to create the company’s own prevention service.

Should appointment of one or more employees prove insufficient for the pursuit of the preventive activity, this category must be chosen, or else an in-house prevention service must be set up.

In entering into an agreement for the preventive activity with an external prevention service, the legislation imposes the following requirements:

  • It must be formalised in writing
  • The specialised company which acts as the SPA (External Prevention Service) must be identified.
  • The company targeted by the activity must be identified, along with its work centres for which the activity is contracted.
  • The aspects of the preventive activity to be implemented, including a description of the particular actions and the resources for them to be carried out.
  • The activity to monitor the employees’ health.
  • The duration of the agreement.
  • The financial conditions of the agreement.


The employer must set up an in-house prevention service in any of the following cases:

  • The company has more than 500 employees.
  • The company has between 250 and 500 employees who are engaged in the activities set out in Annex 1 of the Prevention Services Regulations.
  • In the case of companies which are not included in the above categories, and unless it is decided to enter into an agreement with a specialised external body, this is decided on by the labour authority and depending on the following:
    • The hazardous nature of the activity engaged in.
    • The frequency or seriousness of the company’s loss rate.

If it is chosen to opt for this category of service prevention, the following aspects must be taken onto account:

– Own prevention services must draw as a minimum upon two of the following specialisations:

  • Labour medicine.
  • Safety at work.
  • Industrial hygiene.
  • Ergonomics.
  • Applied psycho-psychology.
  • The activities engaged in by those making up the prevention services must be coordinated in accordance with protocols or other resources in place as established in the objectives, procedures and competencies in each case.
  • Those involved in the in-house prevention services must operate in a coordinated manner and be engaged exclusively in the preventive activity.
  • Companies must draw up a report and an annual schedule of activities, and ensure that these are permanently at the disposal of the labour and health authorities with jurisdiction.
  • Preventive activities and specialisation which are not taken on by an in-house prevention service must be contracted by the entrepreneur with external prevention services.


A number of companies may agree to establish a prevention service to be shared by all of them, following consultation with the employees’ representatives. Companies which decide to combine their prevention services must come into one of the following categories:

  • These companies engage simultaneously in activities in a single work centre, building or shopping centre.
  • They form a part of a single sector or business group or they pursue their activity in the same industrial park or in a limited geographical area.

A Joint Prevention Service will, irrespective of whether or not it has legal capacity of its own, be treated as a prevention service which belongs to each of the companies which have combined.


In the mixed categories, part of the prevention is taken up by the company (through the employer him- or herself, or by the employees designated, or via the company’s own prevention service) and part is taken on by an external prevention service, put in place in an agreement.