01 Jul/14

The Most Dangerous Workplace in Europe

Two construction worker wearing safety vest looking and pointing yellow crane at construction siteLast month, the European Commission adopted the new EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020. The 6-year agenda builds on the success of the 2007-12 occupational health and safety strategy which reduced longer-term workplace accidents (incidents causing absences longer than 3 days) by almost 28%. The legislation seeks to further standardize workplace safety across the EU and thereby increase workplace safety for employees. While the progress made in the last years mirrors the growing awareness among both employees and legislators that increased occupational safety directly translates into increasing profits, there is still plenty of work to do. Last year, more than 3 million serious workplace accidents occurred in EU member states which caused 4,000 deaths on site and another 160,000 fatalities from workplace-related diseases.

Of course, not all industries are equally dangerous. Holding the dubious title of the most dangerous workplace in Europe (land-based) is the construction industry with a fatal accident rate 2.6 times higher than the overall average among all industries. What makes the construction industry so different and more dangerous than other industries? Essentially there are 2 answers: the nature of the business itself and the nature of the companies that operate in the industry.

A typical construction worker must deal with:

  • A physically demanding job, which constantly requires lifting, bending, and overall movement making them prone to fall, trip, or otherwise injure themselves.

  • A work site that is, either partially or wholly, exposed to natural elements, such as wind, rain, and severe temperature variations, as well as man-made factors, like excessive noise.

  • Building materials as well as trade-related tools, which, when misused or used without the proper safety precautions, can cause serious injury and death.

Typical construction companies are:

  • Usually small or medium-sized enterprises (99% of the industry) without well-developed and enforced safety standards.

  • In many cases unable to provide the health and safety “superstructure” of a larger company.

  • Heavily driven by tight deadlines and, therefore, unable to spend substantial time dealing with health and safety training and precautions.

When combining the health and safety risks of a construction worker with the deficiencies that the majority of the European construction company exhibit, coming up with a general strategy to improve conditions across Europe can be challenging. Adding to this already daunting task is the high possibility that, thanks to worker migration, a substantial percentage of any company’s workforce may not be entirely fluent in the local language. Recently, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, Laszlo Andor, stated that “we need safe construction sites and this is what we have to develop. Improve the practices and the enforcement. Very often it’s simply the enforcement of the existing rules which is needed of the existing ideas or measures.”1 In order for a construction company to ensure that health and safety rules and regulations are enforced among an increasingly multi-lingual workforce, companies, must at least ensure their workforce is able to understand those regulations.

To achieve existing rule enforcement and build on that foundation, the simplest solution is to work with a trusted and experienced translation company who has more than 20 years of experience in translating OHS and health and safety documentation for companies around the globe.

As a specialized language service provider for the construction industry, EVS Translations focuses on the translation of occupational safety instructions, health and safety manuals, brochures and training manuals.

Meet us at the 20th World Congress on Safety and Health in Frankfurt Germany in August 2014 or contact our US and UK translation offices to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your construction health and safety programs.

Call our Atlanta office today at +1 404-523-5560 or send us an email: quoteusa(at)evs-translations.com.

Call our Nottingham office today at +44-115-9 64 42 or send us an email: quoteuk(at)evs-translations.com.

——————-

1http://www.euractiv.com/sections/social-europe-jobs/commission-publishes-health-and-safety-strategy-eu-workers-302665