As part of the International Risk Prevention Guidebooks project we are doing in Prevencontrol, I attended weeks ago to the conference “Internationalization and Risk Prevention” organized by the “Confederación de Empresarios de Aragon” (CREA, Employers Organization of Aragon). A very interesting event in which some relevant aspects were analyzed and also the critical points of worker’s health and safety in the more and more often internationalization processes in organizations. These were the key points:
- The openess by companies to new markets is a tendency that will keep increasing over the years;
- There are still many legal vacuums in OHS, at national and international level;
- Companies have some difficulties to carry out, know and develop their internationalization processes.
The combination of these three factors bring us directly to the same conclusion: international prevention is a very interesting specialization field. And the valuable content of conferences like the one organized by CREA mean just the starting point.
You can start here…
Basic normative framework
- On a global basis, there is not an specific law regulating exhaustively the OSH conditions to obey in worker’s trips. In this case, are applied the established contract terms between company and worker and the assumed agreements with regard to public order.
- Over European Union trips, the european directive 96/71/CE establish for those companies that move workers, a group of “core activities” to do according to country of destination law. Occupational health, safety and hygiene is one of those core activities.
- In some European countries, laws obligue those employers who move workers to accomplish with the local risk prevention regulations.
This normative framework leads to multiple situations that have to be analyzed individually by each company and consulted with administrations, although there are two concepts also considered as basics:
- Any trip along European Union has to be preceded by the form A1 tramitation.
- It exist the concept “business trip”: one-time work trips (1,2…even 10 days) that are not considered neither transfer nor travel and that are used for management works without a clear risk exposure.
An advice: don’t take advatage of ambiguities (the tempting “business trip” to realize risky work-force works…) or legal vacuums to not accomplish with the established general obligations. Its failure to comply can result in administrative, Social Security, civil and criminal responsibilities: There is no vacuum in infractions and fines along most of countries.
Practical steps to be taken:
The transnational travels of workers imply a huge organizational workload for the company. It’s a proactive work, by the clear regulation shortage, but can be collected in three groups of activity:
- To process a secondment certificate;
- To process the European Health Insurance Card for trips along EU;
- Out of EU, consult if there exist a bilateral agreement with the country of destination. If it doesn’t, contract a private insurance;
- To do a previous medical check up (health monitoring) and to programme vaccines if necessary;
- To compile general information about civil security of the country of destination: civil violence, natural phenomenons, road safety, sanitary conditions…;
- To achieve information about workplace’s safety and business activities coordination, including specific training actions that would be necessary.
There are many countries where, despite having an emergent economy, the operation of their Social Security systems and the conditions of sanitation facilities make advisable the hiring of private insurances, independently of the existence or not of bilateral agreements.
Actions during the trip:
- Keep in regular contact with workers (follow up, informing well about everything…);
- To do periodic medical checks (health monitoring);
- To control how is being healthcare in the country of destination;
- To process the notification of occupational accidents and sick leaves when they occur;
- Periodic training and information actions;
- To control occupational health and safety conditions and monitoring of business activities.
Actions after the trip:
- Repatriation process is more than documents processing, red tape, permissions and flight tickets.
- Some aspects must be dealt with sensitivity as the work re-adaptation in the country of origin, a career plan reconsideration from a worker who have come from a specific work environment with a normally higher remuneration, new worker professional expectations…
- To do a medical examination and monitoring employee’s conditions.
In a nutshell, internationalization process is a work that requires an exclusive dedication, a personal treatment for every case and to be taken by very qualified professionals, being the risk prevention area a key point within this project. A good chance if you’re looking for a qualitative turn on your professional career.
PrevenControl es la firma especializada en seguridad y salud laboral que propone soluciones eficaces e innovadoras para la mejora del negocio y la reputación de sus clientes a través de la consultoría, el uso de la tecnología y la formación.