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And this guy…

Where did he come from?

What company is that uniform?

Ah! He works here?

This situation, a priori surreal, can occur on a normal basis in the course of a large company, where services such as maintenance, security, cleaning, computer … are usually carried out by subcontractors.

The real problem arises when the company hired outsources one of its services to another company, which in turn subcontracts one of its services … creating a new concoction of professionals from different origins, however, they work under the same roof.

Given such a context, a good coordination of management activities acquires greater importance in safeguarding the safety and health of workers.

Outsourcing in Spain. At what point are we?

We live in an economic and business context in which specialization has become a key factor in the development –if not survival– of many companies in Spain. This leads to the decentralization of some of the production processes to other companies, in turn more specialized. Thus, the contractor can devote more time and resources in their core business.

In 2009, the National Institute for Safety and Health at Work (INSHT) released its National Survey of Safety and Health Management in Companies. In it, among many others, macro-level data is offered on the situation of outsourcing in Spain:

  • 37% of workplaces with over 50 employees incorporate contracting services in its management plan

Gráfico 1

  • As the company gets larger, the degree of outsourcing is higher. This could be explained by greater information and advice available to large companies, which allows them to undertake organizational changes more easily.

 tabla 1

  • Outsourcing occurs mainly in the area of ​​industry and construction. In the specific case of industry, outsourcing in Spain involves more than 10% of industrial production, encompasses 13,000 SMEs, employs 270,000 workers a year and handles around 61 million euros (Source: Red de Bolsas de Subcontratación Industrial de las Cámaras de Comercio (SubcontEX).

tabla 2

Moreover, construction is the sector that experiences outsourcing the most, and that, in turn, shows a higher incidence of accidents. In addition, the severity of accidents at work is significantly higher, so it is vital to carry out effective prevention and management in the coordination of activities. We must not forget that outsourcing is one of the main factors of accidents in Spain.

As we have seen, the phenomenon of outsourcing activities is largely present in Spain. If we add the increase in claims that it entails, it is even more evident the need to act within our companies to minimize their negative impact on the safety and health of workers. This framework of action goes through what is known as the Coordination of Business Activities.

Coordination of activities.

In a situation of concurrent workers of two or more companies in the same workplace, Article 24 of Law 31/1995 on the Prevention of Occupational Risks establishes the obligation to conduct Business Activities Coordination (BAC), which has no other end or purpose than to ensure the safety and health of workers. BAC is explicitly regulated by Royal Decree 171/2004, emanating from the Prevention Law and that has minimum requirements with which the coordination of activities are developed.

Without ever losing sight of the roadmap, each concurrent enterprise should consider:

  1. The risks of the workplace.
  2. The risks of its own activities.
  3. The risks posed by competition with other companies.

Needless to say that very often, these companies usually have different concurrent systems for prevention organization and management, with different sizes, non-uniform company policies… This difference of opinion is the reason that many times the coordination of activities results in a highly complex task.

At Prevencontrol, we want to provide you some keys to perform a coordination of activities that involves genuine protection for employees:

  • More prevention and less paper: While it is true that the law already requires a lot of paperwork in the field of coordination, efforts should be made to eliminate avoidable processes and procedures, which are often just to purge responsibilities. In other words, there must be an effort to move prevention from the offices to the work posts.
  • Communication: Basic. Coordination cannot be limited to the exchange of information prior to the start of the activity. With the passing of days, new risks may emerge or existing ones could get worse and ALL competing entrepreneurs who may be affected by them should be informed. In this regard, it would be interesting if the business titleholder of the workplace has a suitable communication flow system.
  • Implication and zero tolerance for non-compliance: The BAC is doomed if competing companies do not commit to fulfilling their duty with information, cooperation and monitoring the instructions of the business titleholder. Entrepreneurs that outsource their core business should be expedited with monitoring their subcontractors and it would be good to have a penalty system for possible breaches.

Finally, remember that a serious accident or very serious result of poor coordination can lead not only to civil, administrative, and/or criminal liability. It may involve the projection of a negative corporate image which, in turn, may lead to major economic loss.


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.

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