14th European Minerals Foundation Forum
Working together for accident prevention

27 November 2013

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

On 27 November 2013, the 14th European Minerals Foundation Forum took place at the European Economic and Social Committee, chaired by Christa Schweng, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee and Chair of the Governing Board of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

This Forum was focused on working together with the whole supply chain to prevent machine-related injuries and ill health. This involved analysing root causes of accidents, sector challenges and making recommendations such as raising awareness through presenting recent good practice and initiatives in Europe, to be implemented in different sectors of the non-energy extractive industries.
Six non-energy extractive industries’ Trade Associations contributed to the event: CEMBUREAU, EuroGypsum, EUROMINES, EUROROC, EuSalt, IMA-Europe and UEPG.

High Level Speakers from EU Institutions, the Standardisation sector, Trade Associations, Social and Security Insurance Organisations and Companies’ representatives of the Non-Energy Extractive Industry from all over Europe were present.

The event was moderated by Simon van der Byl, Executive Director for Public Policy, MPA, UK.

Armindo Silva, Director for 'Employment and Social Legislation, Social Dialogue' in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission, concentrated in his keynote speech on the European Health and Safety of workers’ Policies’ and Legal framework, focusing on the latest developments of the European Health and Safety Strategy and, in particular, the EU Health and Safety specific framework for the Extractive Industry.

In short, Mr. Silva’s recommendations were focused on the collection of accurate data, evaluation of the lessons learned from accidents, and end users engaging with manufacturers and providing to them data on machine compliance. Mr Silva emphasised the benefits of working together at the Design Stage, recognising that risk assessment is an essential step in prevention of OSH incidents, working together with social partners and, finally, supporting SMEs in OSH (specifically with the example of the OIRA online tool).

Martin Isles, Chairman of UEPG’s Health & Safety Committee and Special Adviser to the Mineral Products Association (UK), presented the good practice example of the ‘Safer by Design’ project at www.Safequarry.com,underlining that Employers had the legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees, contractors and others affected by them. Zero Harm is the employers’ No.1 aim, but this could not be achieved without the involvement of the supply chain, i.e. the manufacturers of heavy mobile plant & equipment. Martin emphasised the Users’ strong support for Standards and the standards-making process, but said that it was morally and professionally indefensible to ignore best practice until a Standard had been produced or modified. Mr Isles concluded that Users across the world need manufacturers to make health & safety their No.1 priority; to listen to and involve Users & regulators; to demonstrate leadership; to show corporate social responsibility; and – of fundamental importance – to design in best practice now, with standards to follow. Safer by design for Zero Harm.

The Panel session moderated by Simon van der Byl was composed of

  • Christa Schweng, Chair of Governing Board, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
  • Ian Fraser, Policy Officer - Team Leader for the Machinery sector - Policy Officer of Machinery Directive, DG Enterprise & Industry, European Commission
  • Reinhold Hartdegen, Chair, CEN TC 151 ‘Construction equipment and building material machines - Safety’
  • Werner Sterk, Head of the Safety Technology Department KAN Commission for Occupational Safety and Health and Standardization
  • Simon Hunter, Standing Working Party Extractive Industry (SWPEI)
  • Ralf Wezel, Secretary General, Committee for European Construction Equipment (CECE)

The discussion between the panellists and participants on key issues of concern led to the making of recommendations and proposed common solutions. The main points made in these discussions were as follows:

  • The importance for decision-makers, manufacturers and standardisation in general to receive end-users’ detailed feedback on risk assessments
  • The highlight of two main ongoing current projects in systematic data and design collection to improve safety of machines, delivered by users as part of the Safer by Design process, which brought general consensus, and a similar project from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) to be used by manufacturers as good practice
  • The call for users to increase their involvement in the standardisation process and to invest time, money and people to participate in the standardisation groups’ activities and make safer standards feasible
  • The need for users to describe exact and correct data for safer machines and equipments for manufacturers and standardisation groups to facilitate the development of standards
  • The important role of training and education to embed the prevention of accident culture
  • On the question of how standardisation can meet all expectations, the need for a response from national and European partners’ social dialogue processes to meet the market’s criteria and react to specific hazards
  • The revision of Standards is a lengthy process, therefore good practice had to be used and promoted to the whole supply chain before becoming standards
  • Ergonomics in standards was for the moment ignored, especially in terms of maintenance
  • The interaction of safe machines and processes and the importance of the human interface by way of the exchange with operators, regulators and employees
  • The absolute need to work together on risk prevention from Employers, Manufacturers, Workers and authorities
  • Current challenges for manufacturers, particularly the complexity and increase of EU legislation, as well as the need to compete with non EU countries such as China
  • The need to have the support of the European Institutions to better implement the current EU legislation. An example was given on the non respect of EU legislation in some countries, which endangered the Health and Safety of Employees, e.g. overloaded trucks, which not only had an Environmental impact but also on the Health and Safety of employees and the large public.
  • The cost and efficiency criteria for users to be considered
  • To overcome the gap in investment in research and innovation
  • The request for manufacturers to be more pro-active at the Global level and to propose safer machines to users
  • The rising concern on market surveillance in terms of data collection, information, and communication
  • The necessity of more incentives and control at national level from market surveillance authorities
  • The obligation of Members States to support users to influence the standardization process
  • The users’ experience (mention of users’ contribution, but not experience) in the improvement of safer machines and equipment can be made at low cost

In conclusion, Safety was a top priority for the whole supply chain. The European Minerals Foundation Forum was a start of the dialogue between manufacturers, users, standardisation groups and authorities on a regular basis, with the aim of working together toward standardization, education and implementation, in order to reach common Health and Safety thinking, behaviour and culture in the whole supply chain in Europe to achieve Zero Harm.