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Good Practice Awards 2019 – prevention and working together are key to success

The winning and commended organisations at the 14th Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards all went beyond the minimum legal requirements to protect workers by developing innovative and effective practices that are sustainable and transferable. Prevention measures and establishing a culture of collaboration are vital, as the following examples show.


Simple prevention measures, big impact

In Czechia, the pharmaceutical company VAKOS XT, a.s. collaborated on the Detoxikon project to minimise harm to safety personnel (such as police and rescue services) from accidental exposure to psychoactive substances. This involved the implementation of preventive procedures to decontaminate workplaces and vehicles. Training was also introduced to raise awareness of the risks and inform workers (up to 1,000) about how to use personal protective equipment (PPE).

The project has resulted in the reduction of long-term health damage to workers and exposed workers reported a decrease in the symptoms of intoxication as well as an increased ability to handle work tasks and stress.

Prevention was also central to the development and implementation of a safe and economical technique for handling material containing asbestos by the German Federal Association of Glazier Trades. Over 300 glaziers have since been trained to safely remove asbestos-containing glazing putty and the procedure is now an official requirement for every glazier in Germany.

The technique could have a huge impact by protecting glaziers and customers from asbestos without the need to implement costly measures, making it feasible for small businesses. It is also sustainable, transferable to other countries, and can be used in connection with other products containing low levels of other dangerous substances.

A culture of collaboration is key

Atlas Copco Industrial Technique AB in Sweden identified a risk to workers due to air contamination from potentially hazardous carbon nanotubes after conducting a collaborative risk assessment. Everyone at the company also helped to develop prevention measures, which included ventilated fume cupboards and a new safety routine.

A key part of the initiative’s success was the fostering of good communication between managers, safety representatives and workers. And thanks to the new measures, workers now work safely without the need for PPE. The company’s approach can easily be transferred to other workplaces looking to eliminate emerging workplace risks from nanomaterials.

In the Netherlands, Mansholt BV, a small family-run farming business worked with occupational health services provider Stigas to reduce workers’ exposure to potentially harmful dust in the company’s potato-sorting shed. The collaboration identified a combination of technical, organisational and personal protective measures that have substantially reduced the amount of dust in the air and ensured a safe and healthy working environment.

Workers were actively involved in finding and implementing the solutions. Together with the management, they worked on purchasing new equipment and updating production processes. Mansholt BV show how even small companies with limited resources can successfully implement a range of collective measures that can have a huge impact on the health and safety of workers.

All Good Practice Awards winners will receive a trophy and each commended organisation a certificate at a special ceremony at the Healthy Workplaces Summit in Bilbao in November. To find out more, you can read our article on the 2 other winning entries and consult the awards booklet. And keep up-to-date with the campaign on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (#EUhealthyworkplaces).