The health of employees and ensuring safe working conditions is of primary importance to the cement industry. The production, storage, transportation, and distribution of cement can lead to possible hazards that need be controlled beforehand. For this reason, the cement industry is committed to 'Zero Harm', by protecting its workers and contractors aiming to continuous improvement of health and safety practices, behaviours and processes towards a health and safety culture at work. As such, the industry is continuously:
- Improving health and safety practices
- Supervising the systematic application of health and safety standards
- Informing and involving employees about the risks related to their activities and providing appropriate training and equipment
- Implementing and ensuring constant medical health surveillance for employees
- Promoting and sharing best practices between stakeholders on health and safety issues
- CEDEFOP – European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training
- ECHA – European Chemicals Agency
- ELA – European Labour Authority
- EU-OSHA – European Occupational Safety and Health Agency
- European Commission, Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
- European Commission – Health and safety at work is everybody’s business Practical guidance for employers
- EUROFOUND – European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
Comprehensive Health Risk Study
The Comprehensive Health Risk Study (CHRS) was launched by CEMBUREAU, in 2005. The study is composed of several elements including an updated survey of the literature on the question, a measurement study on workers’ exposure to dust in the construction and construction industry, a toxicological study carried out in two phases, one involving in-vitro tests, the other ex-vivo tests, a European prospective lung function monitoring study and a French mortality study. All studies were performed by a number of independent institutes of a broad range of nationalities. The institutes/experts were chosen according to their expertise in the different areas. The majority of the results of these studies have by now been published by the institutions themselves in independent scientific journals.
The Comprehensive Health Risk Study is now finalised and the following general conclusions were drawn by Greenfacts:
- People are exposed to cement either by coming in contact with wet cement or by breathing in cement dust.
- Skin contact can lead to an inflammation of the skin and to an allergic reaction. Inhaling cement dust can cause breathing problems, depending on the type of dust, the level and the length of exposure.
- The use of appropriate protective equipment largely contributes to protecting workers in the cement production and construction industries in Europe from developing any of these potential health problems.
- There is no convincing evidence of an increased risk of developing any form of cancer in relation to Portland cement exposure consistent over a variety of geographic and demographic conditions.
Promoting and sharing health and safety best available practices is key for the sector. This involves a compilation of guidance and practices to minimise and, where possible, eliminate health and safety risks arising from daily operations.
Our members across Europe have implemented a series of these good practices, with the ultimate objective of fostering a safe and healthy environment for workers:
- ATILH OSH Good Practices in FR and EN
- Best practices from the MPA Health and Safety Awards
- CSI good practice for contractor safety
- CSI good practices on driving safety
- Avoiding Injury Recurrences. STOP & THINK signs, showing previous incidents, are placed in the relevant areas around the cement plant.
- MPA Guide to Energy Isolation and LOTOTO
- QR codes application for Safety. An easy way of having information available at the site: workers can use their smartphones to access relevant information such as Safety Data Sheets or technical information about chemicals.
- Safety trainings. Ongoing safety training is crucial to improving safety programmes. CRH reconstructs real-time situations and uses the information to provide their operators with practical safety training.
Flagship awareness-raising campaigns allows the cement sector to emphasise the importance of health and safety for its own workers as well as the general public. Below are some examples of such campaigns.
Mate in Mind (UK) aims to provide clear information to employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations across the construction sector.
Safe Cement Campaign – Initiated by a consortium four European organisations, the campaign aims to promote the use of risk prevention measures and processes in cement sector by making available an innovative training tool in 3D. This will help organisations giving courses in the field of risk prevention to achieve the desired impact in training related to health and safety in cement quarrying and production plants.
Cycle Safe: Promoting Cyclist Safety and Minimising Risk. MPA launched its campaign to prevent collisions between cyclists and lorries.