Questions and answers
How does Eurovia manage workplace risk?
Eurovia monitors workplace risk on a continuous basis for every task and every position. Thanks to this permanent effort, we are able to foresee risk and respond to it in a collective and effective manner. At all of our establishments, all specific at-risk positions are identified following consultation with occupational physicians and the CHSCT (committees for occupational health and safety and working conditions); accordingly, specific safety training is offered for these positions. At the Group level, Eurovia’s Prevention Directorate and our vast network of prevention experts manage and minimize workplace risk in close collaboration with the CHSCT, occupational physicians, and many risk-management experts.
Who are Eurovia’s risk-prevention partners?
For the past several years, in efforts to enhance prevention and risk-management activities on a permanent basis, Eurovia has worked closely with all leading authorities in this area, including occupational physicians, INRS (France’s national institute for research and security), INSERM (France’s national institute for health and medical research), the World Health Organization (WHO), and medical insurance boards. Eurovia also actively participates in multiple studies conducted by independent researchers and grants them access to its worksites (which are subject to recurring regulatory visits). In accordance with USIRF (France’s roadway industry association), partnerships have been established with all prevention-related stakeholders.
What are Eurovia’s most recent prevention-related activities?
Prevention and safety training are constant and absolute priorities at Eurovia. In addition to regulatory requirements, Eurovia proactively implements procedures and partnerships designed to manage workplace risk at the earliest possible stage. As a result of this initiative, the accident frequency rate among Eurovia’s work teams has been divided by 3 in the past 10 years. Every year, we invest enormous financial and human resources in workplace risk prevention, safety, and training.
- As an illustration of its commitment in this area, in 2011, Eurovia launched a major campaign against UV-related risk. The campaign encompasses several initiatives. In support of prevention efforts, we encourage all of our employees to undergo skin-cancer screening with a medical specialist free of charge. In addition, a UV exposure guide has been developed in conjunction with dermatologists, and brief training sessions have specifically been developed on this subject. UV protective equipment and sunscreen lotions are being deployed and tested in the field among our work teams.
What kind of training do new employees and temporary staff receive with respect to workplace risk?
All new employees at Eurovia receive training and dedicated monitoring as soon as they are hired. Upon selection, job candidates undergo a “safety test,” which is a set of questions designed to gauge their knowledge of basic prevention-related rules. In case of failure, candidates are set aside but may undergo the test again a few months later. New employees who pass the test receive training specific to their positions.
What specific risks are associated with bitumen use?
Burns are the most common hazard when handling bitumen. To prevent burns, individual protection equipment is supplied by the Company, including safety footwear, full protective clothing, and gloves.
Bitumen fumes may also irritate workers’ respiratory tract and eyes. In response to this risk, Eurovia deploys all required appropriate preventive measures in accordance with worksite conditions (for example, enclosed environments).
Is the WHO’s new 2011 classification of risk related to bitumen fumes a step forward?
In October 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) updated its monograph on risk, classifying bitumen fumes at road-building sites as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Eurovia has acknowledged this change and reasserted that occupational health and safety remains its absolute priority. In light of scientists’ uncertainty in this regard, Eurovia has treated bitumen as a possible hazard for the past several years by taking part in studies and monitoring its employees’ exposure levels at worksites. Though bitumen-related risk has not been firmly established, Eurovia is committed to pursuing its risk-assessment initiatives and implementing prevention measures.
We remain convinced that the future of road-building lies with the increasing use of warm mixes, a breakthrough technology that drastically reduces, and even eliminates, fumes at worksites.
Employees’ health: information concerning a recent judgement
On 13 November 2012, the appeal court in Lyons found Eurovia guilty following the death in 2008, of skin cancer, of one of its employees, a road worker in Bourg-en-Bresse. This judicial ruling is a first in France: this is the first time that exposure to UV rays from the sun has been recognised as being the cause of an occupational disease, the result of the employee usually and regularly working in the open air.
The court also stated, in the preliminaries to its decision, that “the case before it did not constitute a general indictment of tar, bitumen, or their constituents, or of public works enterprises in general”. And the judge said that it was not his task to pronounce on the alleged hazardous nature of bitumen.
In this connection, it will be recalled that after 15 years of research at the international level, the World Health Organisation, in November 2011, confirmed that no proven or even probable link had been established between bitumen, as used in the road industries, and cancer.
This decision clearly underlines the growing challenges facing our business lines in the areas of safety, but also health and prevention. Eurovia didn't wait for the verdict: it had already decided, in 2011, to act on the UV risk, going well beyond statutory requirements. It launched a major prevention campaign, with initiatives such as an annual, free, dermatological screening with a specialist, available to all employees; the distribution of a guide outlining preventive measures regarding exposure to the sun; and trials of new types of anti-UV personal protective equipment and sun-screen products.