25/05/2011

EU-OSHA participates in the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) annual PRAISE event

Sarah Copsey

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) runs an annual event as part of their PRAISE project to promote and share best practice concerning the management of occupational road safety.  ‘Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees’ (PRAISE) aims to increase road safety in the work context. The project is co-funded by the European Commission, the German Road Safety Council, the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (bfu) and the MAPFRE Foundation. It aims to ‘praise’ best practices in order to help employers secure high road safety standards for their employees.

As May 2011 coincided with the launch of the EU-OSHA resources on road transport, it was agreed that EU-OSHA would have a specific section on the programme to present some of the cases included in one of the EU-OSHA reports.

Around 100 people attended this 2011 event. The audience included companies, fleet safety managers, EU institutions, government representatives, road safety experts, representatives from OSH institutes and OSH authorities, and transport sector trade unions. EU-OSHA included the applicant, candidate and EFTA countries in our invitation to the meeting, and ETSC commented that were especially delighted to have representatives from, for example, Turkey and Albania at one of their events for the first time as a result. These participants in turn remarked that they had found the seminar extremely useful. There were also OSH/road safety representatives from Canada and Australia.

The opening word was given by Cristina Marolda, European Commission – DG MOVE. She presented the importance of the occupational aspect to the overall policy to improve road traffic safety. She spoke of the triads of: education, enforcement and engineering; user, infrastructure and vehicle. In particular she emphasised shared responsibility and an integrated approach. She talked of ‘cross-roads policies’ involving employment, industrial research, environment, taxation, health and energy. She spoke of the integration of safety measures into the Community transport strategy. She spoke of the need for communication – including awareness-raising, convincing of the need for investment, communicating about cost savings. She emphasised that company actions must include commuting.

After lunch was the Best Practice Examples of Employers PRAISE award ceremony. Elke Schneider from EU-OSHA presented the best practice award in the SME section. In making the award, she remarked on the strong focus on risk assessment, and the integration of maintenance, contractors driving their own vehicles, leadership and worker consultation shown in the example. The small-medium winner company, KTL, operates in the telecom, renewable, transmission and power sectors within Ireland (with offices in England, Belgium and South Africa) and it employs 170 staff. KTL has shown constant commitment to providing a safe work place for its employees, by setting out and implementing a number of safety initiatives, processes and measures to tackle work related road safety issues and to create awareness of the dangers associated with driving. Their control strategy covers people/vehicle/journey.

Electricity Supply Board (ESB) – the large company winner – is a leading Irish energy utility with international operations, employs 7,150 people. Established in 1927, ESB has always had a strong safety culture. It has been promoting work related road safety since the 1960’s, through in-house safe driving awards. In 2004, the ESB Safe Driving Bureau was set up and the first of the safe driving programmes was introduced. The programmes aim to reduce the risk to staff drivers, and to all road users, through ongoing safe driving initiatives. Features include: leadership – deputy chief executive chairs the road safety committee, senior management inspect the most serious class A-class accidents; partnership with OSH Authority HSA; motor insurance premiums have fallen to 15% of the 2003 level (85% reduction); subcontractors – e.g KTL – have to follow the same safety standards.