Occupational Health and Safety
George Natar – B.Sc, M.Sc, MCyHRMA – Certified Business and Insurance Trainer
Lost their lives at work – 43 … (44) … (45) … people in five years – May 14, 2022, Phileleftheros – 43 people lost their lives at work in Cyprus (the 2 tragedies in the National Guard, increases to 45 victims in the workplace), during the last five years. Even the paralysis of the market by the measures implemented to reduce the pandemic, did not last long enough to eliminate the losses. At the same time, 9,354 people had an accident at work, the severity of which kept them away from their duties for at least three days. As can be seen in the data collected from the Department of Labor Inspection, 75% of accidents at work happen in just five sectors, while the most serious injuries are happening in construction.
Demographics of work accidents 2017 -2019 – The highest Accident Index is in the Hotels – Restaurants Sector, followed by the Water Supply, Processing, Transport and Storage and Construction Sectors. 71.4% of accidents occurred in men and the remaining 28.6% in women. The highest percentage of accidents occurred in the ages of 25 – 44, 1031 accidents (47.6%), followed by the ages of 45 – 64, 872 accidents (40.2%) and the ages 18 – 24, 223 accidents (10, 3%). The largest percentage of accidents concerns the group of unskilled workers (42.1%), followed by the group of sellers and those employed in the provision of services with a percentage (19.3%). 64.67% of accidents occurred to Cypriots, 27.77% to citizens of other European Union (EU) Member States, and the remaining 7.56% to non-EU foreigners … most accidents occurred from 10:00 – 10:59 a.m. (269 accidents, 12.4%) followed by accidents that occurred from 11:00 – 11:59 am. (236 accidents 10.9%).
Accidents cause human suffering and significant costs to the victim himself, to the livelihood of his family and to the loss of production and other disasters for employers.
Convictions for Violations of the Safety and Health Legislation – Offsite 13.08.2021
- In a container transport company, in a total fine of € 8,000,
- In a company in the field of painting, in a total fine of € 5,500,
- In a company in the sector of import and sale of machinery, in a total fine of € 1,200,
With fines and suggestions … do we really solve this problem?
Workplace hazards – A “simple” accident: The worker was working on a ladder and suddenly fell. Accidents will happen often because we are human, but their consequences may NOT be tragic. And this can be done by following “simple” safety rules. There can be security only when we know the dangers and take proper precautions, until the dangers are minimized. Technological advances offer improvements in work efficiency and safety, but can also create new risks.
Causes of Work Accidents – The main causes of work accidents are damaged or malfunctioning machinery, defective working materials, incorrect working methods, blocked walkways / passages, and floor fluids.
Safety and health at work – A healthy and safe working environment is a key element of quality at work. Occupational health and safety is today one of the most important and developed areas of the European Union’s social policy.
Better security = better results for businesses. In the EU, workers are injured every 5 seconds. Every 2 hours, an employee loses his life. There are 7.6 million workplace accidents with 4,900 loss of life each year. Every year, 4.9 million accidents are caused, resulting in more than 3 days of absence from work. The cost of accidents at work and occupational diseases, for most countries, ranges between 2.6% and 3.8% of Gross National Product (GNP). These costs are borne by both businesses and national economies.
Businesses that apply occupational safety standards tend to be more successful.
Sources of Good Practice Information – The European Organisation for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) identifies sources of good practice information listed on its website, including labor inspectorates, accident insurance companies or other control bodies, social partners (employers’ associations and labor movements), sectoral unions or tripartite bodies, professional associations, other information or training providers, companies, non-governmental organizations.
The insurance sector has an important role to play not only as a source of information, but also as a mentoring consultant. It’s part of our job, as long as we are a good way of transferring that risk.
Employer-employee relationship – According to EU-OSHA, for the smooth running of the business and for the desired performance of employees, the employer-employee relationship should be at least satisfactory. Employers should seize opportunities and act in a way that ensures good working relationships with their subordinates, so that they can gain their trust.
Factors to Develop Confidence and Sincerity at Work – The following five (5) factors are very important and serve as a foundation for Safety and Health:
- Communication = constant information and feedback, clarification of company decisions and policies, job description required, performance criteria.
- Support = interest at the human level, encouragement, promotion of their ideas and real interest in their development
- Respect = authorization, acceptance and implementation of their views
- justice = meritocracy and impartial evaluation of performance, objectivity and generosity
- reliability = keeping promises for healthy development of trust between employer and employee
These factors may seem self-evident and stereotyped, but they contribute greatly to the creation of the “System”, which will undertake the difficult task of achieving the goal of eliminating the consequences of accidents.
The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Management System is to create a safe, healthy and quality work environment. The Regulations and Codes of Good Practice are the vehicle for achieving it. All employers must carry out a risk assessment within the framework of Occupational Safety and Health legislation.
Risk control measures – Risk control is performed only after its identification and evaluation. The identification and evaluation of risks at work is done with the “Risk Assessment”.
Risk assessment – The main purpose of risk assessment in the workplace is to protect the health and safety of workers. Risk assessment helps to minimize the possibility of harm to employees or the environment due to activities related to the performance of their work.
The nine principles of occupational risk prevention
Based on EU-OSHA, there are nine (9) basic principles on which the entire Safety and Health System is based.
- Avoiding risks – e.g. Avoid working at heights, moving vehicles in areas where staff is moving, using machines with high noise levels, manual handling of loads, working on slippery floors, use of equipment that is not in a safe condition
- Unavoidable hazards assessment – working at heights, moving vehicles in a dangerous blind spot, in areas with high noise levels, transporting loads, slippery floors, use of chemicals
- Control of hazards at source – Enclosure of machines with high noise levels, Improvement of infrastructure to reduce vibrations, installation of non-slip material on slippery stairs
- Adaptation of work to man (Configuration of workplaces, choice of work equipment and methods of work and production) – height of work surfaces, controls / machine levers to be below shoulder height, ergonomic office equipment, choice of portable tools
- Monitoring the evolution of technology – use of suitable lifting platforms for work at height, use of low voltage electrical equipment, use of automation
- Replacement of hazardous with non-hazardous or less hazardous – use of less hazardous substances, replacement of noise-producing equipment with other quiet equipment or with equipment that produces less noise
- Prevention planning: technical prevention, work organization, working conditions, employer-employee relations, work environment factors – work planning to avoid overcrowding or other dangerous situations e.g. Simultaneous welding and use of flammable materials, use of special lighting depending on the work, when work is done in front of a visual display screen, the table and the screen should be placed in such a way as to avoid light reflection and glare, regular communication within the company
- Priority in group protection measures – individual protection measures – confinement of the source that produces noise e.g. machinery, central dust extraction systems
- Providing appropriate instructions / information to employees – when a new employee is hired, when an employee changes duties, when new equipment and new technology is introduced
Diagnostic Questions We Can Ask
Every employer should be able to continuously answer all of the following questions in order to be in constant contact with Safety and Health:
- Which of the risks are particularly high in your work?
- What actions are needed to inform employees about high risks?
- Are employees aware of the high risks?
- are inexperienced workers more or less safe than experienced workers?
- Is there a process to ensure that new employees are aware of the risks?
- How can you ensure that employees are aware of the warnings?
Insurance Networks can undertake this task as part of the risk assessment work
Top Causes of Accidents – As clearly stated in the estimates, the following are the most important causes of accidents:
- Technical equipment – lack of equipment, incorrect design.
- Working conditions can affect causing accidents due to noise, temperature, ventilation, lighting.
- People can increase the risk of an accident.
- Work experience. The first stages of a new job or a new process are usually the most dangerous. The same thing happens when a person changes profession.
- Information and instructions regarding the working methods and the risks involved.
- Age. Older people are more easily injured, e.g. when they fall. In general, vision and hearing decline with age.
Improving internal information – In order to improve occupational health and safety, it is very important to investigate, record and assess accidents. Stakeholders should record all accidents, and a complete picture of where the risks are.
Archiving files of accidents and findings so that the severity can be determined in relation to the various types of machinery, equipment, materials, etc.
The insurance sector offers various ways of transferring or reducing the risks at work. A small summary of the various plans offered can help each employer to come closer, and choose the most suitable for him, based on the advice of the “expert”.
Employer Legal Liability Insurance: Covers the legal liability of the Employer / Insured for the payment of compensation, as well as expenses / costs related to an Accident or Occupational Illness to a person who is directly employed and caused by and during the employment of the employee. The employer is primarily responsible for the organization and design of the workplace.
When is the employer legally liable to the employees?
(a) personal negligence of the employer
(b) negligence of the employer resulting from his failure to show reasonable care and diligence
- i) To provide and maintain appropriate and safe machinery, space and work system
- ii) To employ suitable and capable employees
(c) breach of statutory duty
(d) personal negligence of employees resulting in injury or death of a colleague (Vicarious Liability).
Company Motor Vehicle Insurance: covers the legal liability of motor vehicle users for causing death and / or bodily harm to third parties up to € 36,350,000, but also material damage to third party property up to € 1,220,000. Covers loss of life and / or personal injury to passengers, including family members of the insured and / or user of the vehicle.
General Liability Insurance: The main offense is “Negligence”. The legal liability for bodily injury or damage to property of third parties depending on the capacity or work of the insured is covered, and includes legal costs of claimants and the insured, and compensates the legal heirs in case of death of the insured. It is divided into several branches, depending on the type of work and the need, ie for professional responsibility (doctors, lawyers, project designers, accountants / auditors, appraisers, business officials, etc.), product responsibility, internet responsibility, and others more specialized.
Personal Accident Insurance: Personal Injury is the Insured peril in this case. Accident means the damage that will be caused by Violent, external, and visible means, and is solely and independently of any other cause. The benefits offered by this insurance are loss of life or Permanent Total (or Partial) Disability after an Accident, which is related to the work of the insured person. It also covers income after temporary Total Disability and an amount for the basic Medical Expenses related to the Accident.
Medical insurance: The purpose of a health insurance policy is to cover medical and related costs and expenses incurred during medical care and are categorized as: Hospital, outpatient, day care costs, other expenses.
Life insurance: the main purpose of life insurance is to supplement the standard of living of the family or the solvency of a business, after causing loss of life either by accident, or by illness to the insured family member or key executive, business owner. The interest here is the love and affection for the persons concerned, so that they can cope financially, after the loss of the insured.
Travel Insurance: Travel means any movement outside the Country of Residence by ship, plane or other means of transport and stay for a period not longer than e.g., 90 days. Travel insurance is based on your personal accident insurance plan and covers unforeseen travel events such as medical expenses, travel cancellation, baggage loss, flight accidents and other losses incurred while traveling internationally. Covers a benefit in case of an accident, Covers luggage. Offers travel assistance – repatriation, hospitalization, medication, body transport, legal fees, etc.
Compensation of € 180,000 for an accident at work – philenews.com
A significant amount of compensation will be received by a builder who suffered a work accident sixteen years ago. He will receive total compensation of 180,000 euros for pain and suffering as well as for loss of future earnings. In fact, this amount constitutes 70 percent of the total compensation, i.e., the percentage of the employer’s liability for the accident. According to the findings of the Court of First Instance, as to the circumstances of the accident, the builder in question, in July 2002, while standing on a metal bucket and performing plastering work, on a lintel door on the first floor of the building, near the stairwell, bucket receded due to his body weight, causing him to lose his balance and fall into the void ending up on the ground floor. Neither in the hallway where he worked nor in the staircase that connected the ground floor to the first floor were there any wooden fences or handrails as precautionary measures against falling to the ground. The Court held that the defendant employer company did not provide a secure operating system.
In summary, it is good to refer a little to Social Insurance and Security, which is the “primary insurer”, i.e. the one that will protect the main part of the financial needs after an accident, and not only that.
Social Insurance and Security means the protection of the individual against economic risks (such as unemployment, old age or disability) in which the government participates or enforces the participation of employers and affected individuals. Social security, among others, refers to the services provided by the state or by other organizations responsible for providing social insurance in matters such as medical care, financial support against, illness, health and safety at work, aspects of social work, and labor relations. Needs met by Social Security, beyond long-term income protection, are the basic level always, for widow or child support after the death of the head of the family, the treatment of any medical condition and the reimbursement of expenses arising from a health condition, whether permanent or persistent inability to carry on any gainful activity, and costs and losses due to occupational accident or illness.
This in itself is certainly not enough and relevant is what Professor A. B. ATKINSON of the London School of Economics states that “existing economic models do not seem to fully capture what is at the heart of social security”.
This is exactly where our work begins… private Accident and Health insurance.