Construction SMEs: Better health and safety through more awareness!

The European Builders Confederation (EBC) calls for renewed commitment to raising awareness of health and safety in the construction sector, for the benefit of workers and SMEs in Europe. 

The call was made at the EBC Annual Conference in Zagreb, Croatia. The event took place on 29th September, during the 2017 EBC Annual Congress hosted by the Croatian Chamber of Trade and Crafts, HOK, a member of EBC.

At this event, EBC reiterated its commitment to assist millions of companies in preventing risks and reducing work-related illnesses and accidents, but also underlined the need for greater best practice exchange in order to increase awareness amongst construction SMEs and craftsmen.  EBC also stressed the need to strenghten its cooperation with EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, and with the European Commission, which launched a new initiative to promote Occupational Safety and Health early this year.

Discussions also addressed how to comply with the future review of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive on new European exposure limits to substances believed to cause cancer among workers, notably wood and silica dust. SMEs and their representative associations need targeted actions, such as a guidance paper and free online tools, to comply with the updated legislation, that we need to be realistic in order to be applied on construction sites.

“We look forward to continuing working with EBC to improve our culture of prevention in safety and health practices” said Dragutin Ranogajec, President of HOK.

EBC President Patrick Liébus stressed: “A stable and simple regulatory framework at European level is pivotal in order to guarantee health and safety of construction workers, without putting unjustified administrative burden on SMEs. Furthermore, financial support to SMEs is key to assisting micro-enterprises to fulfil safety and health requirements”.

EBC is currently involved in projects and campaigns aimed at:
• contributing to the dissemination of the OSHA campaign tools across Europe,
• identifying and sharing good practices among construction SME associations,
• strengthening the social dialogue in the construction sector, through a closer cooperation between construction SME associations and trade unions. This is particularly needed in new Member States and candidate countries.

Key highlights of the Conference included contributions from F. Jesús Alvarez Hidalgo (DG EMPL, European Commission), Malgorzata Milczarek (European Agency for Safety & Health at Work EU-OSHA), Mario Antonic (Croatian State secretary for Trade), Katarina Ivankovic Kneževic (Croatian State secretary at Minister for Labour & Pension system), Nathan Kuper (Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee) and Croatian MEP Marijana Petir. Construction entrepreneurs and experts attended the conference as well.

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