In the world of manufacturing, there is always the possibility of an accident occurring, or someone’s health being affected adversely by workplace activities. The reason there are not more mishaps and illnesses in the Mexican manufacturing workplace is because there are safeguards put into place. Attention to health and safety is not just about being publicly responsible, it also makes good business logic. Health and safety in the workplace benefits everyone—from the owner of the business to the entry-level personnel.
Mexican Safety Standards
By minimizing risk opportunities in the workplace a manufacturing organization in Mexico can function efficiently and lucratively, while mounting worker performance and drive. An effective safety and health program can potentially save $4-$6 for every $1 invested. Accidents and injuries are more expensive than many realize, and costs mount up quickly. Taking action to reduce costs in this area will free up resources that can be used in others.
A manufacturing environment can expose people to a multiplicity of dangers, be they:
• loads which have to be physically handled;
• manufacturing equipment that has to be operated;
• chemicals that must be used in production processes;
• electrical energy that flows through machinery;
• mental vulnerabilities related from workplace stress;
It is essential to be conscious of lawful requirements and responsibilities related to health and safety issues in a Mexican manufacturing workplace. The fundamental principles are relatively straightforward.
Mexican Safety Regulations
Mexico’s workplace health and safety laws are exclusively federal in content. The constitution authorizes the Congress to ratify laws, establishes law-making measures, and empowers the President to supply implementing regulations. Health and Safety regulation statutes for manufacturing and other employees in Mexico are within the Federal Labor Law and the Social Security Law. Under these laws, there are various decrees to ensure a safe and healthy environment. The Social Security Law provides clear rights for employees to guarantee health, and the Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) is the federal organization that creates policies on health and safety in the place of work. It is the duty of the individual states to implement these laws within their jurisdiction.
Key Mexican Industrial Health and Safety Legislation:
The Mexican Federal Labor Law (LFT) allocates basic labor law, including requirements for worker compensation and workplace health and safety.
• Employers are apportioned duties to ensure occupational health and safety.
• Labor authorities have the responsibilities to:
o Impose regulations
o Establish tripartite advisory commissions
o Examine tribulations and advise solutions
o Help function of enterprise joint committees
o Perform inspections and ensure fulfillment
The Mexican Federal Regulation for Occupational Safety and Sanitation and the Environment (Safety Regulation) provides a simplification of the regulatory framework for occupational safety and health in addition to the better protection of employee health and safety and employer property rights.
• Details employer and employee responsibilities
• Sets out numerous safety and healthy rules
• Enacts several initiatives
General Regulation for Inspection and Penalties for Violations of Labor Legislation was enacted by the STPS and supersedes previous rules or workplace safety inspections and penalty impositions.
The Social Security Law provides a system of financial protection for Mexican citizens.
• Provides worker compensation benefits for many workers
Federal Measures and Standards Act aims to promote increased participation by public, private, scientific, and consumer representatives in standard setting compliance.
• Enhances lucidity, standardization, and efficiency in establishing NOMs
• Improves acquiescence
• Sets up the Standard-Setting Commission
• Establishes a certification system for testing laboratories, verification units, and standard-setting organizations.
Standard-Setting Commission: coordinates the authoritarian efforts of federal agencies. It develops a yearly agenda for the formation, adjustment, and/or deletion of NOMs.
Key Mexican Health and Safety Agencies:
STPS: creates procedural safety and health standards, performs inspections, sets penalties, promotes operation of joint committees, maintains risk statistics, endorses research, and distributes information.
IMSS: directs the main worker compensation program. It is a national, state-run, health preservation and social security organization.
The National Advisory Commission on Occupational Safety and Health: conducts studies, proposes prevention measures, and reviews draft standards.
Mexico's Standards of Workplace Protections
Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 is the foundation for Mexican labor law. It is predominantly concerned with ensuring that all workers benefit from “dignified work” and thus establishes standard guidelines for health and safety in the workplace. It requires employers to present employees with a safe workplace and bear the accountability for accidents and illnesses related to normal work or carelessness. It clearly places the burden upon the employers to implement federal constitutions and legislative guarantees concerning safety and health in the workplace. Each employer is required to issue its own health and safety regulations to impose safety rules for individual workplaces.
The regulation of safety and health in Mexico is accomplished through the three sets of regulations: the Federal Labor Law, the federal regulations, and the instructions issued by the STPS.
The arrangement of regulations is the Federal Regulation for Occupational Safety and Hygiene (RFSHT). The RFSHT is an extensive list of basic safety principles and performance standards to apply in a selection of industrial settings.
Based on the regulations in the RFSHT, the Secretariat of Labor issues a series of directives, which include precise standards for workplaces. They are a combination of performance-based and explicit standards.
Joint Health and Safety Committees in Mexico
In Mexico there are numerous levels of health and safety commissions. The Federal Labor Law establishes three levels of joint committees:
1. Workplace committees composed of equal numbers of worker and employer representatives.
2. Each state has an advisory commission for occupational safety and health with government representatives.
3. The National Advisory Commission for Occupational Health and Safety
The Federal Labor Law requires joint committees in every workplace where it is “found necessary.” Joint committees have the obligations of:
• Monitoring compliance and supporting in government inspections
• Investigating accident causes
• Proposing preventive measures
• Preparing reports
• Performing follow-up inspection
• Reporting on appeasement failures
Official Mexican Norms
The Official Mexican Norms are the specific work place rules issued to ensure compliance with Mexican labor laws and regulations. NOMs do not have to be approved by the legislature. Federal government agencies have the jurisdictional authority to develop and issue NOMs applicable to their jurisdictional areas. This gives the Mexican system litheness in terms of updating, modifying or eliminating standards without affecting the far-reaching regulations.
NOMs on workplace safety and health must fall into three major categories: 1) Safety standards, addressing accident risks in processes and facilities; 2) Health standards, addressing chronic or acute risks from factors like noise, light, temperature, poor air quality, toxins, carcinogens, and the like; 3) Structural standards, addressing institutions and procedures such as medical care, joint committees, information management, and hazard reporting.
* Each NOM must be revalidated every five years.
Mexico Employer Obligations
The constitution establishes a universal employer responsibility to recompense for work-related death and disability. It also establishes a general obligation to look after employees. Specific duties arise from numerous laws.
LFT, LSS, RFSHMAT, and Standards Act require employers to:
• Abide by standards
• Maintain safety and health programs
• Maintain acquiescence and compliance-verification systems
• Ensure accurate equipment and perilous substance controls
• Assist venture of joint committees
• Provide worker training and information about risks
• Allow labor inspections
• Provide information and reports to authorities
• Protect pregnant and lactating women
Under Mexican law, it is required that workers be given training in Spanish with materials in Spanish such as labels that come on the containers of the chemicals they are using.
Failure to abide by regulations may result in fines ranging from 15 to 315 times the minimum wage, which may be doubled for repeat offenders. STPS may also order partial or total temporary shutdown of a workplace until health and safety records are met.
Employee Duties in Mexico
Several duties are imposed on employees. They must:
• Obey standards
• Aid imperiled co-workers
• Cooperate with joint committees
• Partake in training
• Use required protective equipment
• Endure medical exams
• Notify employers of contagious diseases contracted
• Report safety breaches to employer
Employees have the right to have the joint committee notify them of the workplace safety and health trace, to be in attendance and speak liberally during inspections, to acquire copies of inspection results, and to contribute to legal proceedings.
Industrial Health and Safety Inspections in Mexico
The Inspections and Penalties Regulation preside over inspections and penalties concerning workplace safety and health throughout Mexico, their responsibilities include:
• Educate inspectors
• Disseminate inspection criterion and procedures
• Monitor compliance
• Perform inspections
• Set appeasement deadlines
• Order closings due to severe danger
• Maintain inspection report
• Counsel and supervise joint committees
At the beginning of any inspection, the inspector must present the employer a written inspection order and a phone number to validate it, along with a declaration of employer rights and obligations. Representatives of both employer and employees should be present.
Manufacturing workplaces in Mexico are subject to three regular types of inspection:
• Initial inspections occur when a workplace is opened, extended, or changed.
• Periodic inspections are normally on an annual basis, but may also be scheduled more or less regularly.
• Verification inspections observe compliance with previous appeasement orders.
Workplaces are also subject to special inspections, which can be ordered at any time if authorities have knowledge of infringements, accidents, calamity, or looming dangers.
Private organizations called verification units monitor compliance as an appendage to official inspections. Employers and STPS can hire verification units to check and report on acquiescence to enforcement authorities. They must abide by with requirements relevant to government inspectors. It is anticipated that the private verification program will improve conformity by adding private inspection resources to the effort. Private verification does not displace governmental inspection and enforcement authority.
Penalties for Industrial Health and Safety Violations in Mexico
The Office of Labor Inspection, part of the STPS, is responsible for enforcement of safety and health regulations in federally regulated industries. Employers who infringe on the safety regulations, including declining access of inspectors to their facilities, are subject to fines of up to 20,000 times the general minimum wage for that region. If violations continue, the inspectors can order a shutting down of the workplace.
Penalty recommendations are forwarded from inspection authorities to a special STPS government department. The Regulations for Inspections and Penalties set limitations for punishment measures. Employers have a right of response to charges including declaration of defenses, request for exceptions, submitting of substantiations, and the right to legal representation.
Mexico seldom imposes first-violation penalties. Penalties typically are only for looming dangers or failure to subside problems formerly highlighted by inspectors or joint committees.
Mexico Worker’s Compensation Systems
The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), a national, state-run, health maintenance and social security organization administer the Worker’s Compensation (WC) system in Mexico. Employers pay yearly worker’s compensation premiums based on bereavement incident from lost workdays, disabilities, and fatalities over the preceding 12 months, subject to an annual modifier. The WC premium is the modifier plus a minimum of .25% of the quoted base remuneration, up to a maximum of 15% depending on industry type.
The IMSS manages workers’ compensation under the LSS and issues benefits. Covered employers register workers with and pay premiums to IMSS, which delivers compensation to injured or ill workers. Premiums are attuned to reward good safety and health performance and to penalize poor performance.
Benefits cover medical expenses and income reimbursement for disability. Eligibility is defeated if the petitioner was intoxicated at the time of the accident, or under the influence of non-prescribed drugs. Eligibility is also defeated if the claimant deliberately caused the accident, or if it resulted from a brawl or suicide attempt.
Health and safety are extremely vital to the function of businesses. To test your adherence to health and safety standards in Mexico, ask yourself:
1. Do you take you health and safety responsibilities seriously enough?
2. Is your business compliant with the latest Mexican rules, regulations and legislation?
3. Do you have a health and safety handbook?
4. Is your health and safety handbook part of your contract of employment?
5. Do you fully train your staff in health and safety compliance?
Risks for health and safety can be significantly reduced if a company has a health and safety enchiridion. It must contain the health and safety policy of your business, the health and safety responsibility of the business, and all safety information.
A good source of information and assistance regarding Mexican health and safety and other laws is the website www.mexicanlaws.com