Safe Maintenance Campaign Concluded with the Launch of the Next One
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) completed the two-year campaign on safe maintenance in a summit arranged in Bilbao, Spain in November 2011. Around 200 participants were present. This article covers the highlights of the meeting and includes interviews of participants.
The Summit was opened by Dr Christa Sedlatschek, Director of EU-OSHA. She gave a review on what has been done throughout the safe maintenance campaign and how to continue. This was followed by László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion sharing his personal experiences on the campaign, as he has been an active participant in several events during a twoyear period.
Director, Dr Christa Sedlatschek says that she has been very satisfied on the visibility of the campaign: “The Healthy Workplaces campaign, which has been the largest of its kind in the world, has seen record levels of involvement across all the EU Member States and beyond. Hundreds of events have been organised around the theme of maintenance and its importance. The Agency has provided support for campaign activities at national level through a variety of campaign material and services available to the national focal points. This has included support for the organisation of 38 partnership meetings and 131 stakeholder seminars, 15 press conferences, 11 other events for journalists, 2 radio call-ins, and 75 news releases adapted to particular countries.”
Dr Sedlatschek continues: “In addition, a vast amount of publicity material has been produced and distributed to support the campaign, including nearly three million fact sheets, over half a million campaign guides, and nearly half a million promotional leaflets” All the material is available in 24 languages on the website http://hw.osha. europa.eu.
Nervión river goes through the city of Bilbao.
EU Commissioner László Andor and EU-OSHA Director Dr Christa Sedlatschek.
Alexander Stuber, the Chairman of EFNMS (European Federation of National Maintenance Societies) is also happy with the participation of the national member societies: “I think the campaign was a great success for EU-OSHA as well as for the EFNMS. As I mentioned in my presentation at the Summit in Bilbao, 90 % of our member societies joined the campaign and we could report quite a number of very interesting projects accomplished either under the lead of a member society or by providing valuable input or by working together with local FOP in working groups. I think EFNMS was very heavily involved in the campaign via the national member societies.”
Gerard Neyret, Chair of Health and Safety Committee in EFNMS, has been preparing the cooperation of National Maintenance Societies, EFNMS and EU-OSHA since the preplanning of the first joint campaign. He states: “Safe Maintenance Campaign is an outstanding example of a Win-Win cooperation between EU-OSHA and the European Maintenance Societies.” This was also a public statement by Dr Jukka Takala, the former Director of EU-OSHA, in his speech at the Bilbao Summit. The visibility of the first joint campaign was excellent from its early beginning.
Gerard Neyret recalls: “In the preparation phase EFNMS and its members were sharing maintenance with EU-OSHA and EUOSHA in return reminded EFNMS that Safe Maintenance is important also in other sectors such as the agricultural sector, and not only the industry and the building sectors. The focus on Safe Maintenance at EUROMAINTENANCE 2010 by the joint action of EU-OSHA and EFNMS, and the dissemination of the campaign by nearly all NMS in their respective countries has been very fruitful.”
Alexander Stuber wants to give his appreciation for the support received from EU-OSHA: “Yes, we are very happy with the way EU-OSHA supported our National Member Societies in their project work. There was at any time support available if we asked for.”
There were 53 participating partners around Europe. According to Dr Christa Sedlatschek they played a major role: “A notable success of the Safe Maintenance Campaign has been the number of companies and other organizations including some big names from around the Europe, who have joined forces with the Agency as official campaign partners. They organised a wide range of activities to promote good practice in safe maintenance. These campaign partners play an invaluable role in communicating the importance of safe maintenance in the workplace. Through their networks we are able to get right through to the workers with our campaign messages. In the case of Pirelli, for example, we could promote safe maintenance to more than 20.000 workers world-wide.” Dr. Sedlatschek continues: “Of course the more partners we engage the better for the success of our campaigns, but being such a small Agency 53 EU partners is a very good number. Anyway, we will continue with the partnership offer for the next campaign and of course this number could be expanded.”
Dr Sedlatschek states that cooperation with EFNMS was a natural decision: “EFNMS has been a strategic partner throughout this campaign. From the beginning it was almost obvious that such an organization had to be a key partner in our campaign. Their members are dealing with maintenance activities on a daily basis, so they should be in the best position to pass the message on and integrate occupational safety and health (OSH) issues into the overall management of maintenance. We know they have been very committed and very involved in the campaign; above all the most important thing is they will continue mainstreaming OSH firmly into maintenance activities in the future, which makes our campaign sustainable.”
Alexander Stuber, Chairman of EFNMS.
Special Tools for Micro and Small Organisations
The summit included an update of OiRAproject. EU-OSHA’s OiRA (Online interactive Risk Assessment tool) is a comprehensive, easy to use and cost-free web application. It helps micro and small organisations put in place a thorough step-by-step risk assessment process – from the identification and evaluation of workplace risks, through decision-making and completion of preventive actions, to continued monitoring and reporting. The OiRA module for maintenance is under development and it will be an important addition.
Regarding the continuing OiRA project for the micro and very small enterprises, where the safety situation is a real concern, Gerard Neyret has three recommendations for focus areas: “First of all maintenance should be a part of any OiRA project, irrespective of the field of activity. Secondly it must be kept in mind that the most effective way to improve safety is education on safety already at school and to continue lifelong safety training of workers. The third point is to give priority to the inexperienced workers such as young workers, workers who have recently had a change of craft, position or location and unemployed workers when they return to work.”
Right Direction but Long Way to Go
The success of the campaign is difficult to analyze. Dr Christa Sedlatschek cannot give detailed numbers: “It is much easier to evaluate the outputs of a campaign than to assess its real and ultimate impact. We can report on many concrete outputs linked to our maintenance campaign, such as the ones I’ve already described, but a further evaluation would be needed to measure the contribution of our campaign to the improvement of health and safety at work or the reduction of work-related accidents linked to maintenance activities. I am really confident that, through this campaign, we have helped to prevent significant numbers of people being hurt at work in Europe, but I am not able to prove it as of now.”
Alexander Stuber says he wants to combine visibility and success: “I can talk only about EFNMS. I think the campaign achieved a great deal of visibility. I would like to mention EUROMAINTENANCE 2010 in Verona where we had the former EU-OSHA director Jukka Takala as a key note speaker and all the EFNMS meetings where the national societies reported their progress in their national campaigns on Safety in Maintenance.” Stuber continues: “Here I think we have to be much more patient. One campaign will not bring the big change we would like to achieve. We have to continue the work we have started in 2010. It will be the responsibility of our committee ESHEC, which is under the chair of Gerard Neyret. He has done a great job in starting-up the committee from scratch and motivating 90 % of our members to take part in the campaign.”
Gerard Neyret, Chair of Health and Safety Committee, EFNMS.
Campaign partners on stage.
Gerard Neyret also agrees that the measurable improvement in the short term is unrealistic. But he wishes to share a good example from France: “To give a practical precedent, let’s look at the French case. The survey of the French Maintenance Association gave the first alarm. The Local Institute of Occupational Health decided in 2004 to study the case of all occupational accident fatalities (excluding road accidents) recorded in France in the year 2002. This study, referenced ED 123, was published in 2005. Result was that in year 2002, 44 % of fatalities recorded in French industry were related to maintenance operations, and 33 % of fatalities occurred to maintenance workers. The real impact of the French campaign for safety in maintenance began in 2005. If we look at the French statistics according to the annual ‘Guide de la Maintenance’, the development of ratio of fatality rate in maintenance divided by the average fatality rate, is as follows:
Gerard Neyret concludes based on the example: “Results of such a campaign are slow but unchallenged. Starting from a very catastrophic result at the beginning of the campaign, the situation improved slowly in the second year, more rapidly in the third year with the progress being asymptotic in the fourth year. If the French situation is representative, it tells that the full effect of a campaign occurs three years after its beginning. In France the safety of maintenance workers has improved by a factor of 4 in four years. It is a remarkable result.”
Next the Focus is on Working Together for Risk Prevention
Unlike many good campaigns that come to a close without future planning, the Healthy Workplaces Campaign continues with a new one topic, “Working together for risk prevention”. It will start in April 2012 and will focus on management leadership and worker participation in occupational safety and health, confirms Dr Christa Sedlatschek. “Organisations are unlikely to take action if they are unaware of risks in the workplace. Therefore, if the EU is to achieve its 2012 goal of reducing workplace accidents by a quarter, then we will need to significantly raise awareness of workplace risks, particularly in smaller organisations. The Agency’s ESENER survey (European enterprise survey on new and emerging risks) has highlighted that the most effective way of improving workplace safety and health is for employers to actively engage with their employees and the whole supply chain. To this end, the campaign concentrates on galvanising the support of employers, employees, their representatives and the whole supply chain and other stakeholders to work together to reduce risks in the workplace. Smaller enterprises will be particularly welcome to take part”, she continues.
EFNMS will continue as a campaign partner, confirms Alexander Stuber: “I think it is of utmost importance to continue. We will discuss our role with the ESHE-Committee within the next few weeks and I’m sure we will come up with a lot of good ideas on how to support the new campaign. Maint- World will be one of the first to be informed about our new activities.”
Finally Dr Christa Sedlatschek wants to remind that increased health and safety is also a business issue: “This task represents a big challenge in times of the ongoing financial crisis and in Europe marked by austerity policy. But we do know that well managed enterprises also have healthier and more motivated workers. Good working conditions and healthy workers bring economic success. However, workplace health and safety do not always get the necessary attention. Enterprises are under immense pressure and fight for their existence. In my opinion, companies can only be successful in the long run if their staff is healthy and if they are well managed. In this respect we have to appeal to enterprises to think long term. It doesn’t help to act at short notice and neglect industrial safety, which leads to higher accident risks and higher absence rates and of course in the end quality suffers. Today’s Europe cannot afford this really.”
Maintenance services everywhere, are called to guarantee the smooth and efficient working of the industrial plants and maintenance management helps in improving the productivity keeping the machines/equipment in their optimum operating conditions.