KANBrief 2/11

Occupational safety and health in Italy has been restructured

On 31 May 2010, Italy’s Superior Institute for Job Accident Prevention and Safety (ISPESL) and Insurance Institute for the Maritime Sector (IPSEMA) became part of the Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL) (basis for the merger: decreto-legge No 78 of 31 May 2010 and legge No 12). The purpose of this step was to focus resources and to link insurance and research more closely together.

“This structure is politically the proper way for us to merge and improve OSH-related services,” emphasises Marco Fabio Sartori, President of INAIL. He underlines the objective of making INAIL (of 30 July 2010 2 ) a “global advisor in all OSH issues”, with a clearly defined role in the areas of insurance, prevention and rehabilitation. Within the new structure, INAIL assumes the co-ordinating, ISPESL and IPSEMA the executive function.

The three authorities have been restructured in order to improve workplace safety, and in particular to reduce appreciably the number of fatal accidents. At the same time, closer links between the research and insurance functions are to enhance efficiency and avoid duplication of effort.

Occupational safety and health from a single source

General services are to be improved and quality standards raised in the four areas of prevention, medical treatment, rehabilitation and insurance. In addition, INAIL is to present the results of the efforts, now combined, from a single source. These include publications of a scientific nature, and also the announcing of available research resources and the promotion of INAIL patents (for example for technical improvements to prostheses).

In order for the observance of prevention targets to be monitored more effectively, the aim is also for local offices to be set up throughout Italy which will work more closely with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In particular, a fund is to be set up through which support can be given to SMEs, local employee representatives for OSH issues, and equality concerns.

The functions of INAIL

Up to now, research and participation in standardization activity at national and European level were functions primarily conducted by ISPESL. Since the staff have retained their previous functions, they will continue to perform these tasks in the future within INAIL. By formulating comments and proposals, INAIL will therefore be involved in the development of technical standards. In consultation with the Ministry of Labour, INAIL will also be involved in studies and research projects concerning occupational accidents and diseases. The work to be carried out by the employees in the specific areas will be governed in detail by regulations which will be issued in the near future.

INAIL also has certain additional tasks:


  • It is responsible for managing and interpreting the data from Italy’s national OSH information system (SINP).
  • It records the names of the employee representatives responsible for OSH issues, which employers are obliged to provide.
  • It gathers data on occupational accidents resulting in absence from work for at least one day, excluding the day of the accident itself.
  • It obtains, from the public prosecutor, information on cases in which the occupational safety or occupational health regulations have been violated, or on circumstances leading to an occupational disease. In such cases, INAIL may appear as a joint plaintiff and claim compensation.

The current regulation governing occupational safety and health in Italy is the Testo Unico (Decreto legislativo (regulation) No 81 of 2008, extended and amended by the provisions of decreto legislativo No 106 of 2009). This document is a compilation of all regulations relating to OSH, and also describes the functions with which INAIL is charged.

Health and Safety Centre

One concrete result that has already emerged from the merger of ISPESL, IPSEMA and INAIL is the founding of a Health and Safety Centre (Polo Salute e Sicurezza). The centre’s hotline provides information on the reorganization free of charge, and will offer further custom services in the future to the institutes’ customers.

Orsola Larocca