The prevention of occupational hazards in the Big Four

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The Big Four is a term used to refer to the most important professional firms in the world in the field of consulting, auditing and legal and tax advice.  Currently, the Big Four are comprised of the following companies: DeloittePwCKPMG and EY.

Each of these firms are comprised of independent legal entities engaged in the provision of services to customers and internally as well.


 Photo: Job and talent

The predominant preventive modality in these organizations is joint prevention service, assuming three or four preventive specialities.

Due to the type of activity performed in the professional services firms, logically, the dominant occupational hazards relate to working in offices and in particular due to the use of computers or data display screens. In addition, one of the key activities in the management of health and safety in these organizations is the coordination of business activities, as far as suppliers, but especially concerning customers given that a very high percentage of professionals carry out their work at the client’s premises. Therefore, firms must be equipped with highly qualified personnel to perform this coordinating role.

However, the major prevention challenge that occurs in this type of organization is to go more deeply into the risks that are psychosocial in origin and measures that promote the health of its employees.

They are all  ranked among the 100 best companies to work for, they have superb facilities, provide excellent training to their employees, give them the opportunity to work with leading customers to have enriching experiences at a national and international level, etc. However, living under the system known as “Up or Out”, a philosophy of work in which high competitiveness is encouraged and where each year people are subjected to evaluations, and thereafter promoted or they leave the job, which means that no one can rest on their laurels.

This is long-term professional career planning, in which each year the professional moves up a rung in the company if they deserves it, or fails to rise, if they have not gathered sufficient merit. Each employee enters with category one and will climbs the ladder until reaching ten. At that time, you can become a partner of the firm, after passing an internal selection process that is rigorous, continuous and demanding.  Those who have worked in the Big Four admit that it is hard, but they acquire a level of professionalism, reputation and financial compensation that is not easily achieved in other companies.

With this philosophy, it is possible that firms hire large quantities of “juniors” who are offered the opportunity of their first job and relevant experience. This method may also provide a career with continuous” promotions”, with rapid career growth that translates into a considerable economic increase. This policy results in a reasonable organization in terms of the pyramid of experience, short in levels of greater responsibility and broad at the base.

However, working under such pressure can lead to certain stress levels in some people who should monitor for prevention services in the Big Four. There are supporters and detractors of the method both within and outside of these organizations, but what is clear is that when they enter these organisations, what must be abided to is known. Surprisingly, we have observed that the general trend is to positively assess the opportunity to work in one of the Big Four, as demonstrated by this discussion in a LinkedIn group.

On the positive side, prestige is acquired, as well as considerable experience, good pay and an opportunity to grow both inside and outside the Big Four. On the negative side, one has to work long hours, which, although the salary is competitive, entails quite a low per hourly wage, and extreme competitiveness and pressure.

However, there would not be much difference between these harsh conditions and those today who are suffering moonlighting or freelance work, who also have to experience long days and a wild market in these times of crisis. According to the latest EPA (Labour Force Survey), one in three employed persons (36, 1%), have to work on Saturdays or have worked at least one Saturday a month, so we see that working long hours is not just something experienced by consultants working for the Big Four.

What do you think, then? Is it a good opportunity to make a name in the market at the expense of working hard for a while? Can you think of another type of work that is not so competitive? Do you value other types of business cultures more?

For more information: Life in a Big Four, by Frederic Borrás



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    A trendy evaluation and quite picturesque in your presentation. You have identified the superficial transition and pathways taken by Companies categorised as the “Big Four” who will greedily do anything for more! The minority of quote unquote successful employees in these work environments may show attributes of wealth attainment and superficial social identity where ethics and integrity are unidentified characteristics within. Joaquaim, you have identified the glamorous and certain inherent faults in working for these high turnover/attrition rate Corporations but no Solutions conveyed and that is because you support the continuation of their process. It is obvious that these entities are not concerned with family life or life outside of work, eg. if an employee has to spend 2 hrs in getting to and from work they should only have to work 6hours instead of having a paedophile babysit their kids because they have to work overtime or suffer! After all greed is a character trait of the “Big Four” that is insatiable and by “any means necessary” for their Corporate recognition, just look at the news and see the trickle down effect of their so-called progressive actions on society “murder, suicide, drugs, divorce, violence/abuse, mental sickness…… not to mention the upper echelons demands and techniques for maintaining power and superficial prestige. Some act in ways that make a common criminal look petty and get away with their acts. So Joaquim I hope you can blatantly identify and resonate your knowledge of “Big Four” brutality that is wide out in the open, definitively the members that herd the young fresh tight skirted and Botox lipped middle agers trying to make a living while dying of stress and constant violation, of course one of the trendiest statements around is “I’m so busy” because I have to satisfy the Boss by working late tonight…….Do not forget to include the deluge of favors that have to be satisfied outside of one’s job portfolio, come on it is 2014 Revelation with Solution time, if anyone has the guts to deal with these gross faults that are not civilized just miscreated deviations to shy away from the truth, whatever they perceive it to be.