The security on a job site is essential for obvious reasons. It is also very well defined by the legislation. The reference text is the European directive 92/57/CEE of June 24, 1992. It concerns the minimum safety and health requirements to be implemented on temporary and mobile work sites. Transposed into French law, it is a major source of information. In addition, there is the French Labour Code, the fourth part of which deals solely with health and safety at work.

Ignoring these rules can have dramatic consequences. The human, penal and economic cost ofa breach of safety rules can be very high for any public works company. This is why we are going to take a closer look at the safety rules applicable on a job site. What requirements are mandatory? What is a Safety coordinator ? What is its role? What are all the safety obligations on construction sites? All these questions will be addressed so that you become familiar with these notions.

The importance of security on a job site

The construction sector represents a little more than 8% of the employees of the total workforce. Yet, these employees are involved in 14% of work-related accidents (source: French health insurance, AT-MP branch - year 2018). With an average of one accident every two minutes worked, i.e. more than 6 million working days lost per year, the direct and indirect financial consequences for the company are estimated at around 5% of the cost of construction.

By its very nature, the construction sector is particularly affected by this problem. Indeed, each job site being specific, there is no framework fixed once and for all. Moreover, the activity of public works implies the use of construction equipment and machines, which represents a significant accidental risk. And last but not least, the work environment, such as activities at heights, on uneven or slippery ground, and the climatic conditions of outdoor work, all contribute to an increased accident risk. Therefore, each job site must adopt safety rules according to the nature of its work, the work environment and other specific parameters.

Legislation places the responsibility for safety on the employer's shoulders. Even if the workers also have a share in this responsibility, the company has an obligation of result and not only of means in terms of safety on its construction sites. In concrete terms, it must guarantee this safety by putting into practice and enforcing these rules. In the event of failure to do so, the company may be held criminally liable. The same applies to any employee. Because the workers present on a job site have theobligation to respect the safety instructions which were given to them. In case of failure, a disciplinary sanction can be imposed. Similarly, if an accident were to occur due to an employee's failure to comply with safety rules, his or her criminal liability could be called into question. Hence the importance of being familiar with all safety obligations.

Safety rules

The first goal of the safety rules on a job site is to avoid any accident, whatever it is and whoever is involved. This is why the intrusion of foreign people on the job site must be avoided. This security will be set up by the signalling, and the delimitation of the work area. But the workers and more generally all the personnel at work must also be protected, both from an accident and from an occupational disease. Indeed, the handling of chemical products, the carrying of heavy loads, or work in the cold or in hot weather can, in the long term, also impact the health of the workers.

Thus, the company must first of all identify the risks, according to its activities and the specificities of the job site concerned. It has a duty to inform and train its employees if necessary, such as training in chemical risks, or the renewal of theCACES. Information can be provided by posting safety instructions or giving a welcome booklet to all new employees, even experienced ones. The protective equipment that the workers will need must be provided, and renewed if necessary, by the company. In short, in order to meet its obligation of result in terms of safety, it is up to the head of the company to set up a real risk prevention policy. This policy can be implemented through the prevention plan job site or through the implementation of QHSE software.

The prevention plan job site

The prevention plan job site is an obligation imposed by the Labour Code from the moment there is a joint activity between two companies. For example, a job site of electricity, structural work or renovation on an active site requires a prevention plan job site. Its purpose is to reduce the risk factors linked to the simultaneous presence of workers from different companies. In this way, the risks are identified in order to prevent them more effectively.

prevention plan job site

In order to establish it, a visit to job site is carried out beforehand. The prevention plan job site mentions in particular the coordinates of the companies, the duration and the nature of the works. If a Safety coordinator (Safety and Health Protection) is involved, it is he who draws up this prevention plan job site. However, in some cases, a Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan, commonly called HASP, is required.

The Site-Specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP)

Globally, it is used when more than two companies are going to work simultaneously on the same job site. The notion of the duration of the work is also retained. It is more detailed than the simple prevention plan job site. Above all, it describes the risk prevention measures, the health and safety facilities at job site and the provisional emergency organization.

A copy of the document is used by all those involved and must be made available to everyone at job site. This copy must be kept up to date and can be consulted by institutional partners such as the Carsat (French social security) or the occupational physician. The members of the CSE (Social and Economic Committee) also have access to it. Before the start of the job site project, the Safety coordinator must have a copy.

The Safety Data Sheet

This Safety Data Sheet or SDS is used when chemical risks may affect workers on a job site. Its purpose is to provide information on the product used. Each employee working on job site must be given one when handling products that are hazardous to health or the environment. It includes sixteen mandatory sections. It mainly gives information on the product, its hazards, the precautions to be taken, and the first aid to be implemented in case of emergency. If several products with chemical risks are going to be handled, an SDS must be available for each of them. Generally, the chemical manufacturer will provide it.

Simplified safety data sheet

The role of the Health and Safety Coordinator

Since 1994, the presence of a Safety and Health Protection Coordinator or CSPS is mandatory in France when several companies are working simultaneously on a job site construction or civil engineering project. He is a key figure in terms of safety on the building sites. He is therefore in charge of the risks in case of co-activity of companies, including subcontractors. As such, he has three main missions.

First of all, beforehand, heassesses potential risks by analyzing work situations, particularly those involving joint activity. Depending on the risk situations, he/she develops preventive measures, particularly those that could lead to an occupational disease. 

Safety coordinator

Then, during the work, he updates the HASP according to the progress and possible evolution of the job site. He also checks that the recommendations are actually being implemented in the field. For this purpose, he is authorized to carry out inspections. In the event of a dispute during the job site process, it is he who will define the respective responsibilities and offer solutions to correct the problems. In case of an emergency, he will recommend appropriate measures or a stop of the works if necessary.

To complete all these preventive actions, a certain number of safety equipments are also regulated.

The mandatory safety equipment on a job site

The law has imposed protective equipment on construction sites in order to avoid work accidents as much as possible. The financial burden of this equipment is borne entirely by the employer. The employer is responsible for providing protective equipment in good condition, in accordance with technical standards. The employer is responsible for renewing this equipment if necessary and must ensure that it is used correctly, for example by providing training in the use of PPE or Personal Protective Equipment.

Different types of equipment exist. There is equipment to protect against cuts, hearing protection, eye protection, and work at heights.... They are classified into two categories: PPE or Personal Protective Equipment and CPE or Collective Protective Equipment. The Labor Code states that, whenever possible, EPC should be used first, as it is considered more protective.

Clothing and accessories: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As the name suggests, PPE is intended for individual use. It is essentially clothing, which may be intended for a fairly specific job, such as leather welding jackets that retard the spread of flames. Or, clothing that will suit many outdoor activities with high visibility vests. The same requirement of visibility equips jackets or parkas that will also offer additional protection against the cold.

To complete this PPE, we will also find accessories such as safety shoes, knee pads, cut resistant gloves, ear muffs, protective helmets, glasses, dust masks, harnesses. This list is long and not exhaustive. This equipment varies according to the workstation and is adapted to the workstation. Employees are required to wear them and to report any wear and tear on the equipment, as well as any obsolescence. In addition to this PPE, Collective Protection Equipment completes the safety of construction workers.

General PPE sheet

Materials and objects: Collective Protection Equipment (CPE)

EPCs are used in priority to PPEs, the Labour Code has set this rule. They are used as part of the occupational risk prevention process. They can be defined as installations or materials that ensure the protection of everyone on a job site. In fact, they must protect both an employee at a workstation and any person in the vicinity of this workstation. Four main general principles characterize this concept of safety: protection by attenuation of nuisance, by distancing, by obstacle and by consignment. Thus, PPE can reduce a nuisance.

For example, protective covers on noisy machines fall into this category. The deviations set up, such as the beacons of defined routes, are part of the principle of danger avoidance. A guardrail, a safety railing or a scaffold are part of the devices used to avoid the risk. Finally, the procedures to be followed during an intervention involve the notion of protection by consignment: instructions are given to carry out a dangerous operation with minimal risk. Thus, an electrical machine must be stopped before any work is carried out on it. Before starting up a job site, the PPE to be used will be determined by the specificity of the job site and its environment.

Example of EPC (Barriers, signs)

Other obligations related to worksite safety

The provision of this protective equipment is not the only obligation of the company. Indeed, the company must also exercise certain responsibilities: the comfort of its employees and the safety of its job site.

In order to ensure that employees work under proper conditions, the company will need to put in place certain measures. For example, it will be necessary to arrange for special schedules in case of extreme weather conditions, shift rotation, and the provision of a break room and hygiene facilities.

For job site, the site will need to be secured with a fence. Electronic surveillance must also be provided. Finally, the job site site must be kept in a clean condition compatible with the work being done.

It is clear that the list of obligations in terms of safety and personal protection is long and complex. But it is also thanks to these regulations and in particular to prevention actions that in 30 years,work accidents have dropped by about 30% in the construction sector. This is a significant saving considering the economic, human and social stakes for companies.

This is why, in addition to the mandatory training of employees, we advise you to carry out awareness actions with your personnel. Making employees aware of the importance of prevention and respecting safety rules is a major but indispensable challenge.

And to help you implement effective measures, ask the services of the Carsat and the Social Security's AT-MP branch in France. They are there to support you in this process by distributing advice sheets and even by providing subsidies for the purchase of adapted equipment. For example, very recently, the health insurance scheme introduced a new financial aid, the TOP BTP subsidy, to help companies with fewer than 50 employees to purchase equipment adapted to the prevention of falls and MSD (musculoskeletal disorders).

So don't hesitate, take advantage of the opportunities offered in terms of prevention. The company, the employees and the community will all benefit.

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