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The last SBS 2020 event organised by EFESME was the SBS Lift Forum dedicated to safety at work, and to European and national policies in this field.
The topic, always of crucial importance for all companies, became even more so during the Covid-19 emergency. EFESME and SBS therefore decided to study the topic, and to present different points of view and considerations on the subject: what are the European policies on safety at work, and how do they involve SMEs? What is the national approach on the subject, and how do lift SMEs react to it? And what is the role of standards in all this?
>>> The recording of the SBS Lift Forum is available online HERE
As per tradition, the event opened with welcome speeches, this time led by Mr. Massimo Bezzi, President of EFESME, and Ms. Gunilla Almgren, President of SBS – Small Business Standards. Both Presidents stressed that workplace safety is crucial, and that it is sometimes a particularly difficult issue for SMEs. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that SMEs, in every sector, do their best to ensure it, and it is also clear that initiatives and projects to support them are always useful to ensure full compliance with current requirements.
President Bezzi went into more detail regarding the concept of safety at work for lift SMEs, what the risks are for them, and what is the best way to continue to be safe and coimpetitive companies in the coming years. President Almgren, on the other hand, highlighted how SBS is always at the forefront of supporting SMEs in all their actions, and how standards can help to establish requirements to be met.
The event then consisted of two panels, one institutional, with the participation of the European Commission – DG EMPL and EU-OSHA; the other national, in order to have the perspective of the member states and to know in detail their initiatives.
Mr. Matthias Fritz, socio-economic analyst of the unit health and safety of DG EMPL, took the floor as the first speaker to introduce the guests to the activities carried out by the European Commission regarding safety at the workplace.
Mr. Fritz’s presentation focused mainly on the latest developments in EU policy in this area. Starting from a solid base of numbers and data regarding workplace accidents, Mr. Fritz explained how the situation has evolved for the better over the last twenty-five years (1993 – 2018), and what the short and long term benefits are of solving the problem of work-related illnesses Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). He spoke at lenght about the OSH related EU legislation, proving how OSH are a point of extreme interest and importance for the work of the Commission.
Where Mr. Fritz’s intervention did not go specifically to the lift sector, he nevertheless spoke about the accidents that occur in the manufacturing sectors working with machinery, and made several references to the Machinery Directive and its revision, which is fundamental for the sector.
>>> Mr. Fritz’s presentation is available HERE
Following Mr. Fritz, the institutional panel continued with the presentation by Mr. William Cockburn, Head of Unit at EU-OSHA, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Mr. Cockburn introduced the topic of health and safety challenges for small businesses.
After giving a general overview of studies conducted by EU-OSHA in recent years, such as the three versions of ESENER, Mr. Cockburn went into detail to talk about what are the most common risks in SMEs, and then moved on to talk about the four-year programme (2014-2018) put in place to improve OSH in micro and small enterprises. The conclusions of this program are encouraging: improving OSH in micro and small enterprises is possible and there is a wide range of tools and interventions exists. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to reach the most vulnerable SMEs.
For this reason, Mr. Cockburn also stressed the importance of collaboration between the parties: this will allow a fuitiful and continuous exchange of information to support SMEs in ensuring safety in the workplace via good-practises, training, successes and other useful initiatives.
>>> Mr. Cockburn’s presentation is available HERE
The institutional panel was extremely interesting; sometimes it is not particularly easy for SMEs to find the information they need to develop the right activities in favour of safety in the workplace, but the resources are there: the collaboration highlighted by Mr. Cockbrun, directly involving national, sectorial and SME associations, therefore becomes essential to achieve the greatest benefits for all.
The Forum then dwelt into the national level, to find out how the various national lift realities deal with the issue of safety in the workplace . Three EFESME members, ANACAM from Italy, FEPYMA from Spain and Vma for Germany, approached this topic from different points of view, and helped to create an all-round version of the opportunities and actions to be promoted.
Mr. Paolo Tattoli, one of the main lift experts collaborating with ANACAM, described the evolution of the legislative situation in Italy with regard to safety in the workplace, and in particular in the lift sector. His speech also allowed the public to see how the European Directives, in this case the Lift Directive, and harmonised European standards help lift SMEs in their daily work.
In addition, particular attention was paid to risk assessments, used to introduce risk mitigation to make everyday work less dangerous for all operators.
>>> Mr. Tattoli’s presentation is available HERE
Mr. José María Compagni Morales, coordinator for FEPYMA, instead, he addressed the subject from a second point of view, explaining how, at times, the current working culture in a state prevents the full development of increasingly precise and stringent regulations with regard to occupational safety. Mr. Compagni Morales stressed that public administrators have a duty to support prevention on the one hand, and to create the necessary conditions for safe work on the other. From this statement, he took the cue to explain the activities carried out by FEPYMA in this regard: seminars, events, training courses, everything is useful and necessary to improve the working culture towards a better safety at work.
>>> Mr. Compagni’s presentation is available HERE
Finally, Mr. Udo Niggemeir, second Chairman of VmA, presented an interesting and detailed list of activities that VmA, as an association for the support of German lift SMEs, developed at national level to enable its members to develop awareness and skills regarding safety in the workplace.
VmA is directly involved in various working groups, government and industry, and developed useful checklists to help its members to be sure they have met the necessary requirements in this area, for example; they have also developed specific guidance documents to work during the Covid-19 emergency, documents also used by EFESME to develop common guidelines in this regard, and how to carry out a proper risk assessment. VmA firmly believes in the importance of safety in the workplace, and its ongoing commitment is proof of this.
>>> Mr. Niggemeier’s presentation is available HERE
The event proved to be extremely interesting for all parties involved, who had the opportunity to learn more about safety in the workplace and to learn about opportunities, projects and initiatives at both European and national level.
The most important lesson to be learnt from the Forum is that safety in the workplace is certainly fundamental, but also very complicated: European, national and local initiatives are therefore necessary to ensure it, and to ensure full support for SMEs in doing so.
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