Subcontracting maintenance: the statistical evidence of an increased risk factor
Mr Neyret presented data collected by AFIM on safety in maintenance activities. These data show the enormous risk maintenance workers are exposed to. In 2007 the fatality occurrence in maintenance activities in France was three times the national average. The occupational accidents frequency rate was 50 to 60% above the national average. Days lost for temporary unavailability were twice as high as the national average.
In industrial maintenance, one third of all accidents occur during handling activities, one fourth are caused by process energy. Other causes are process equipment, tools, vehicles and safety devices failures. In building maintenance causes of accidents are, in order of importance and amongst others: equipment, staircases, environment, step ladders, energy, tools, traffic and vehicles.
When comparing accident frequency rates amongst permanent or temporary / contracted workers, the data show a much higher risk for the latter. Frequency rates were three times higher for temporary then for permanent fitters or electricians, and an astonishing 67 times higher for temporary boiler makers. Temporary workers are predominantly employed in building maintenance.
The occurrence of occupational diseases caused by exposure to asbestos was six times the national average in industrial maintenance, and 14 times the national average in building maintenance. Deafness occurred 25 times more often in industrial maintenance than the national average and diseases due to exposure to benzene (leukaemia, etc) even 70 times more frequently!
Mr Neyret then proposed four possible ways of improving contractor safety. The main message was that companies should invest in safety for all the people working for them, including contractors’ and subcontractors.
The first solution presented by Mr Neyret were the GIE or Regional Groups of Economic Interest, that bring together the safety expertise of enterprises and their contractors in a given area. Next Mr Neyret mentioned the safety certification systems for contractors, such as the MASE certificate which was established in 1995. Frequently used in Europe is the third solution: a mandatory Safety Passport for the access of a worker to a working site. Also specific requirements should be fulfilled, such as: contractors should be made fully aware of the risks of a working site; contractors’ workers should be considered as enterprise workers as concerns safety and health at work (e.g. training, safety statistics, safety meetings); an enterprise coordinator should be at the disposition of the contractors; sub-contracting should be agreed by the enterprise (to avoid the uncontrollable cascade of subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, etc.) and the instalment of a zero accident bonus.
During the Q&A session, remarks were made by the public regarding the negative side of such a zero accidents bonus. Companies would be “encouraged” to hide work related accidents and cases are known of victims who have been offered money to remain silent about the accident. To tackle these problems, someone in the public suggested that the contractor himself should not register the accidents, but the outsourcing company. It was also said that instead of good accident statistics good safety behaviour should be rewarded.
Mr. Neyret made the following statement: “During the last 10 years statistics show that the accident rate for contractors has decreased from 3 times to 1,5 times higher than industry average. The mortality rate stays however between 2 to 4 times higher than industry average. Also the situation with regard to professional diseases amongst contractor maintenance workers is dramatic. How can we tackle these challenges?”. A first suggestion from the audience was that contractors should be made responsible for the actions of subcontractors, who should in their turn follow OSH rules. The exchange of good practices among companies in the same branch and organised by the authorities was another suggestion to tackle bad accident statistics. Mr Vancayseele suggested that (in Belgium) the location of the work-related accident and name of the client (if a contractor) should be obligatory fields in the declaration form for work-related accidents. A first good step, he added, is always to have the shortest possible subcontracting chain. Mr. Neyret described the experience of a company in former Eastern block country, which had reduced the accident rate amongst younger workers by half by intensive training and tutorship.Click here to hide the full text
|Resources and Attachments|
|Workshop 1 - Gerard Neyret.ppt|