06 November 2020

The number of accidents and casualties at construction sites in Poland has decreased

The Agreement for Safety in Construction presents a document showing that the number of casualties in accidents at construction sites in Poland has decreased almost twice from 8,684 to 4,743 over the 10 years of the organisation's operation. The number of fatalities per 100,000 employees has decreased fourfold in the construction industry today, compared with the last decade. This is largely due to the association of the biggest construction companies in Poland, which works for the improvement of work safety.

 The number of people injured in accidents on construction sites has decreased by 45 percent in Poland in the years 2009-2019. At that time, the number of accidents at work in general decreased by only 4%. Severe casualties recorded the biggest decrease - by 75%, followed by fatal accidents with a decrease by 63%. In years 2009-2018, according to Eurostat, Poland has improved safety at construction sites the most of all European Union countries. Being a country with the highest number of fatalities per 100,000 employees (21.49), we became one of the countries with the lowest rate of the most serious accidents (5.18). 

- The most important achievement is the decrease in the number of accidents on Polish construction sites, despite the fact that the number of construction companies doubled, and the number of people employed on construction sites increased greatly. We owe our success to consistency and introduction of uniform requirements for all the entities. We have developed and implemented uniform standards. We have raised the level of supervision culture. The level of health and safety training gets better and better. Health and safety requirements are never a matter of debate for our subcontractors because they know that these are the same for every signatory. Safety is no longer a taboo in business talks with our subcontractors and service providers - says Jacek Leczkowski, Vice President of Erbud SA, who has been the president of the Agreement for Safety in Construction since this year.

Safety has improved the most in the biggest companies - the number of casualties fell from 2,490 in 2009 to 1311 in 2018. Employees with less than a year of work experience constituted the highest (about 60%) percentage of casualties for years; and next those who have worked for two or three years. At the same time, in the years 2009-2018, these two groups recorded the biggest decrease in the number of casualties recorded. Most often, construction site accidents involve the least qualified helping workers, some of whom are foreigners. According to the National Labour Inspectorate, foreign workers on construction sites often do not have experience, construction qualifications and knowledge of the Polish language, which has a negative impact on work safety.

The Agreement for Safety in Construction has a meaningful effect on the functioning of the construction industry in Poland. Nine members of the Agreement for Safety are in the top ten biggest construction companies by revenue for 2019. The total revenue of the companies belonging to the organisation makes 56% of total revenue of the 50 biggest companies in Poland. The mission of the biggest general contractors, associated in the Agreement for Safety in Construction, is to reduce the number of accidents at construction sites by promoting the culture of safety, raising the awareness of dangers of work at construction sites and preventing risks and accidents.

A business partner cooperating with the signatories of the Agreement meets the same occupational health and safety requirements presented in an agreement. There is a single system of mandatory occupational health and safety trainings in the organisation. An effective tool for raising the occupational health and safety awareness in the construction industry is the event called Safety Week organised by the organisation. The Chief Labour Inspector took this event under his auspices. This is the biggest initiative in Poland promoting the culture of occupational health and safety, which attracts thousands of participants every year. The report "Polish construction in 2009-2019. The state of safety and the operation of the Agreement for Safety in Construction” is a summary of the activities of the general contractors' organisation celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

- The initiative of the Agreement for Safety in Construction would not have happened without the involvement of such visionaries as Wiktor Piwkowski, chairman of the Polish Association of Construction Engineers and Technicians. He was the originator of the entire project. In turn, Tadeusz Zając, Chief Labour Inspector, was actively looking for ways to solve the problem of accidents in the construction industry. He personally met the presidents of the biggest construction companies offering them cooperation. Zbigniew Janowski, the chairman of the Trade Union Budowlani, who is known for his work to improve safety in construction in the Labour Protection Council at the Polish parliament, also had a great contribution to the creation of the Agreement - concludes Jacek Leczkowski.

Read the report HERE

Agreement for Safety in Construction is an initiative of general contractors aiming to reduce the number of accidents at construction sites. Its signatories are: Budimex, Eiffage Polska Budownictwo, ERBUD Group, Hochtief Polska, Karmar, Mostostal Warszawa, Mota-Engil Central Europe, Polimex-Mostostal, Porr, Skanska, Strabag, Unibep and Warbud. The agreement developed uniform safety standards on construction sites. Thanks to this, subcontractors know that all its signatories have the same health and safety requirements that should be applied and included in the price of their services.

The activities of the Agreement are supported by: Chief Labour Inspector, National Labour Inspectorate, Social Insurance Institution, Central Institute for Labour Protection, National Association of Occupational Health and Safety Employees, Polish Association of Construction Engineers and Technicians, Trade Union Budowlani, Polish Chamber of Civil Engineers and Polish Association of Construction Employers. So far, the Agreement for Safety in Construction has developed shared solutions, jointly with, among others, the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways, the Association of Concrete Producers, the Polish Association of Special Foundations Contractors, and the Polish Scaffolding Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to the activities of the Agreement, the safety of workers at construction sites is an unquestionable and common standard today. Over the 10 years of its existence, the Agreement for Safety has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote the culture of occupational safety, raise the awareness of dangers of work at a construction site, and prevent risks and accidents. The Agreement maintains a base of knowledge on occupational health and safety, organises the annual Safety Week campaign and the "Build Safely" competition. Thanks to the efforts of the organisation, the health and safety requirements are standard in subcontracting agreements, in transport or in delivery of cranes. The organisation also prepares scenarios for managers and foremen (the so-called OHS quarters) and training materials in foreign languages that are tailored to the needs of construction sites.

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