A couple of months ago the prestigious magazine Equipos & Talento published a special on risk prevention entitled “Prevention: a profitable investment” in which I was fortunate to participate.
Here you have the full interview with some responses to the article that were extracted:
Is the prevention of occupational hazards affecting the economic situation? In what way?
Indeed, the current situation is significantly affecting the prevention of occupational hazards. Resources are diminishing and we know that often, when we think there are limitations, we think more about being able to pay (and earn) the payroll than in investments of any kind, including health and safety. Also, these hardships result in staff reductions which in turn imply that this task, which was previously done from 5 operators, today is done among 3, plus the extra hours the business must do. This means that time is pressing, prudence is scarce, prevention is lessened.
This same rush has also resulted in one of 4 deaths in accidents at work due to driving, while travelling accidents do not stop rising.
Are companies aware of the need to prevent or do they continue to view it as a legal requirement to be met?
If we analyse in the surveys the motivation of the entrepreneurs to invest in prevention, it is surprising to see the high percentage that still respond they do so because it is the law or not to be penalized. Obviously, the answers vary, and is not about criminalizing anyone, but it is really shocking.
However, there is widespread evidence that good management of safety and health in companies is a sign of economic health and better productivity. I have met with many companies that possibly began with the motivation to avoid penalties, and seeing the results, they have come to be genuine prevention advocates as a competitive factor. The government is aware of this and invests heavily in trying to convey this idea to businesses. In any case, I think that a sanctioning policy that is rather unfortunate is being carried out and often incongruous that penalizes without rewarding or weighing how well a company is able to act beyond the legal obligation. We cannot proclaim empowerment on the one hand and apply just punishment on the other. This should be pondered on and we must act accordingly.
How are suppliers adapting to this situation? What services differentiate your company?
Look, if the Spanish business community has something, it is that it is resistant to change, of getting out of its comfort zone. In this regard, prevention services could not be less, and the truth is that from my point of view there is a general unwillingness to evolve. The industry is in flux, as can be seen by the latest rulings by the government, investing in self-management of employers with fewer than 25 employees, ie 98% of the business. It is clear that changes must be made. However, the industry is hoping that there will be a cautious redesigning of the national prevention map.
In our company, we have always strived to offer advanced services in prevention. We are suffering the crisis just like everyone else, nevertheless we are maintaining ourselves and even growing slightly. The secret? The motivation that made us create the company back in 99: in the face of a market cornered by large firms, we could give added value, since we did not know anyone else like us to hire. Solution: build a prevention service on the basis of specialized engineering, with related services that have been growing with time: eLearning, preventive software, apps, business intelligence, reengineering, and ultimately the talent of our employees applied to the problems of our customers. This has enabled us to evolve to become one of the most versatile companies in the sector and to initiate activities outside our borders, therefore we are extremely proud, quite frankly.
Do you think the concept of risk prevention is properly raised in the legislation?
We have an extremely complex legislation in this sense, but I really think that the problem is not so much how the concept of prevention is raised in legislation but in its application and interpretation. As I said before, we find too often companies that have carried out a commendable task and a major expense, and they are punished because they have not documented the delivery of the PPE. This would discourage anyone. We should think about, as indicated, the overall performance, provide opportunities for improvement and even congratulate exemplary employers.
In the courts I think there is also an overly paternalistic interpretation of prevention and we often want to protect and unprotect ourselves. As shown in a couple of statements that have come out in recent days. The first is a criminal conviction of a prevention service technician for failing to foresee a risk which was quite implausible and which was unanimously not considered by industry peers. What has this provoked? Nowadays, technicians over-identify risks to avoid being charged, with the result that companies receive evaluations of 200 pages instead of 50.
The second of the judgements from the Supreme Court of Valencia overrides the mandatory medical examinations at a bus driving company (yes, you read that correctly) considering that it violates the right to privacy. What about the right to life of the passengers and other pedestrians?
In the United Kingdom, they have recently reformulated and simplified all safety and health regulations, so that, “common sense can once again prevail in this sector.” I think we should take note here.
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