National Institute for Safety and Health at Work
Instituto Nacional de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo
INSST logo.svg
Agency overview
FormedMarch 9, 1971; 51 years ago (1971-03-09)
TypeAutonomous agency
JurisdictionSpanish government
Headquarters73 Torrelaguna Street
Employees293 employees, 2020[1]
Annual budget42.2 million (2022)[2]
Agency executive
  • Francisco Javier Pinilla García, Director
Parent departmentMinistry of Labour

The National Institute for Safety and Health at Work (Spanish: Instituto Nacional de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo, INSST) is an autonomous agency of the Government of Spain. The INSST is considered a technical-scientific agency entrusted with the task of analyze and research on safety and health conditions at work, as well of promoting and supporting the improvement of them, in order to achieve a decrease in occupational hazards, work accidents and occupational diseases.[3]

The INSST, in the framework of its responsibilities, is responsible for ensuring coordination, supporting the exchange of information and experiences between the different public administrations and it especially encourages and supports the implementation of safety and health promotion activities by the Spanish regions. Likewise, it provides, in agreement with the competent Administrations, specialized technical support for certification, testing and accreditation.[3]

At European Union level, it acts as the national reference center, guaranteeing the coordination and transmission of the information that it must provide at national level, in particular with regard to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and its Network.[3]


Most of the INSST powers are granted by the Occupational Hazards Prevention Act of 1995. According to this law, the INSST has five fundamental responsibilities:[3]


National Plan

The INSST was created in 1971 under the name of the National Plan for Health and Safety at Work.[4] The creation of this Plan was entrusted to the Directorate-General for Social Security by the Labour Minister, Licinio de la Fuente. The work of the directorate-general ended the following year, designing a Plan with great autonomy and attached to the aforementioned directorate-general.[4] This plan deployed an institutional framework throughout the national territory with the objective of, as ordered to it by the Social Security Bases Act of 1963, erasing or reducing the risk in the different centres and work places; to stimulate and develop with the actors involved in the workplace, a positive and constructive attitude towards the prevention of work accidents and diseases that may arise from their professional activity; and achieve, individually or collectively, an optimal health status.[4]

Likewise, the Plan provided for the creation of structures such as the Territorial Institutes for Health and Safety at Work, the Provincial Technical Cabinets and the Centers for Health and Safety at Work to respond to the need to extend preventive actions to small and medium-sized enterprises and to contribute to the training of specialists in Occupational Health and Safety, since the Occupational Medicine with greater tradition had its own means for training through the Institute for Occupational Medicine and the School of Medicine for the training of doctors and ATS and company nurses. The lack of specialists was especially pronounced in Occupational Health, a branch that only had a small development in the National Institute for Occupational Medicine.[5]

In addition to the above, the National Plan, by delegation of the Organization of the Medical Services for Enterprises (OSME), it assumed the powers of inspection and advice of the Medical Services for Enterprises, a task carried out until 1986, date in which they were transferred to the National Institute for Health (INSALUD). In 1971, the National Plan carried out the first labour health campaign in the history of Spain.[6]

Social Service

The National Plan for Occupational Health and Safety had a short life, since in 1976 the Social Service for Health and Safety at Work was created by the Ministry of Labour, which replaced the National Plan in all its functions and competences. The National Institute for Occupational Medicine and Safety, the National School for Occupational Medicine and the OSME were also integrated into the Social Service; that is to say, all the organisms on which the Occupational Medicine and Medical Services for Enterprises depended.[5]

National Institute

Even shorter was the life of the Social Service, which was replaced in 1978 by the National Institute for Safety and Hygiene at Work.[7] The decentralization process caused that the Provincial Technical Cabinets with the corresponding Centers were transferred to the Autonomous Communities that assumed the powers on health and safety at work in coordination and cooperation with the National Institute that it was configured as the specialized scientific-technical body of the General State Administration with the mission of analyze and study of health and safety conditions at work, as well as the promotion and support to improve them. Likewise, the National Institute acted as a national reference centre before the Institutions of the European Union guaranteeing the coordination and transmission of the information that it must provide at national level, in particular with regard to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and its Network[5]

It has remained the same since then, although it has undergone two changes of denomination. The first was in 2017, when it was renamed as the National Institute for Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, because, according to the government, the society of that time was sufficiently sensitized to this issue and was increasingly demanding on everything relative to work welfare.[8] This change was not well seen by the opposition, mainly the Socialist Party, which criticized the change because it considered it a simple "change of concept and a devaluation of the functions of the Institution" when using "terms from the field of public health" to "divert attention to the serious problems we currently have as a result of the Labour Reform".[9] Likewise, in the farewell letter of the agency's director, Dolores Limón, she included this change of denomination as one of the reasons for her resignation.[10]

Indeed, and in coherence with the criticisms made a year earlier, the coming to power of a socialist government in 2018 led to the change of name to the National Institute for Safety and Health at Work.[11]

Organization chart

The INSST is structured through central and territorial bodies.

Central bodies

All the central bodies have their headquarters in Madrid.[12]

Territorial bodies

The territorial bodies are decentralized organs responsible for executing the policies of the Institute at regional and/or provincial level. They are:[12]

National Committee on Safety and Health at Work

The National Committee on Safety and Health at Work (CNSST) created by the Occupational Hazards Prevention Act of 1995, is the collective advisory body of the Spanish Public Administrations in the formulation of prevention policies and institutional participation body in occupational safety and health. It is composed of representatives of the General State Administration, the Administrations of the Autonomous Communities and representatives of the most representative business and union organizations.[13]

The National Institute for Safety and Health at Work assumes the General Secretariat of the National Committee, providing the necessary technical and scientific assistance for the development of its competences.[3]


  1. ^ "Annual accounts for the year 2019 - INSST".
  2. ^ "State Budget 2022" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b c d e "Occupational Hazards Prevention Act of 1995". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  4. ^ a b c "Order of March 9, 1971, approving the Occupational Health and Safety Plan". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  5. ^ a b c Sánchez Ramos, Enrique (2001). Treinta años de historia. pp. 12–17. ISSN 1575-1392.
  6. ^ "Primera campaña de salud laboral en España". Prevencionar (in Spanish). 2019-10-02. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  7. ^ "Royal Decree-Law 36/1978, of November 16, on institutional management of Social Security, health and employment". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  8. ^ "Royal Decree 703/2017, of July 7". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  9. ^ Nuevatribuna. "El PSOE acusa al Gobierno de "devaluar" las funciones del Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo". Nuevatribuna (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  10. ^ Orrit, Josep (2018-07-25). "El INSHT vuelve a cambiar de nombre, del actual INSSBT a INSST, desaparece el bienestar laboral". Prevención Integral & ORP Conference (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  11. ^ "Royal Decree 903/2018, of July 20, which develops the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  12. ^ a b "Royal Decree 577/1982, of March 17, which regulates the structure and competences of the National Institute for Safety and Health at Work". Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  13. ^ "Royal Decree 1879/1996, of August 2, which regulates the composition of the National Committee on Health and Safety". Retrieved 2020-01-25.