Safety commitment

01 May 2008

The campaign for health and safety in the construction sector (“Building in Safety”) was launched in April 2004 in Dublin, Ireland and closed in Bilbao, Spain in November last year. The closing event brought together around 500 delegates from industry, governmental, professional and research organisations across Europe.

The event was opened with statements from MEP Stephen Hughes, representatives of the European Commission and representatives of the construction sector's Social Partners. The speech delivered by FIEC's vice president for social affairs, Peter Andrews, was well received, and both Mr Andrews and the European Federation of Builders and Wood Workers (EFBWW) vice president Ernst—Ludwig Laux confirmed the construction industry's Social Partners’commitment to continue to improve Health and Safety standards.

These political statements were followed by three workshops on more specific issues and a ‘Round Table’discussion in which the Directors General of the construction industry's Social Partners, Harrie Bijen (EFBWW) and Ulrich Paetzold (FIEC) participated. The event was concluded by a ceremony in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, at which the winners of the national construction health & safety competitions were presented. Five of these received EU OSHA prizes for their achievements in the field of prevention of risks.

FIEC and EFBWW issued a statement aimed at providing the construction industry with a roadmap for the improvement of health and safety at work for 2005 and 2006. The two federations agreed the following points:

ₓthe only acceptable accident figure is “zero”. Although, realistically seen, this is an unlikely figure to be achieved, it remains a general vision, carried by a “zero tolerance” approach,

⊇real progress is necessary, based on good regulation,

⊇prevention is better than cure — design, planning, preparation and execution, all have to take H&S into consideration

⊇changing the attitude of everyone concerned and creating a genuine H&S culture, requires the integration of H&S into all education and training systems, as well as regular information campaigns, in order to increase risk awareness,

• specific programmes for youngsters are necessary,

⊇ finally, real progress on construction sites depends on the committed collaboration of everyone involved, everyone in his sphere of influence, from the client to architects, engineers and contractors to the workers most directly/personally concerned.

On the basis of their joint working programme, FIEC and EFBWW agreed three undertakings:

⊇to undertake all necessary action at a European level, in their Social Dialogue,

⊇to urge their member organisations to take corresponding action at a national level and

⊇ to use their entire communication network for disseminating H&S information In view of achieving specific progress, FIEC and EFBWW agreed on the following working plan (annexed to the agreement).

⊇2005: identify and agree on priority actions to fight against the most frequent causes of accidents, e.g. design which does not take into account H&S and inappropriate contract conditions, falling from heights, accidents with machines, etc

⊇ 2006: develop actions to reduce the most frequent causes of accidents

⊇ 2006: develop actions to reduce need for proper inclusion of H&S aspects in design detailing and contract conditions

⊇Lobby national education ministers to introduce H&S training in all levels of education,

⊇ improve the recognition of both H&S and skills training between EU countries.

The content of this FIEC—EFBWW agreement was included in a more general declaration that also commited the Dutch Presidency of the EU and some other European construction sector associations (ACE—CEA, EBC, ECCE, EFCA) to adopt specific measures to improve the sector's safety and health standards. This declaration is available at: http://

All stakeholders involved in this declaration agreed to meet again in June 2006 at a follow—up Construction Safety Summit to be organised by the Agency to report back on progress and future initiatives.

Meanwhile, the EU OSHA will launch a campaign on “noise”in 2005 to raise awareness about the need for correct protection and prevention measures. Since the construction sector, amongst others, is concerned by this problem, FIEC and EFBWW have also been asked by the European Agency to give their support in assisting with the organisation of the event.

Further information on the 2004 & 2005 campaigns is available on the website of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work; http://

For further information: FIEC 66 Av. Louise, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 514 55 35; e-mail to

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