European Committee 2003: Declaration on health and safety

30 June 2003

This year, Bertrand Collomb handed over to Bernard Kasriel the presidency of this committee for information and dialogue between the senior management of Lafarge and representatives of its European employees.

The highlight of the meeting was the signature by all parties of the "Joint Declaration on health and safety". This declaration reinforces the Group's new Health and Safety policy and the management system launched earlier this year, and sets down concrete actions which will make it possible to monitor their implementation at a local level.

Commentary by Patrice Ponceau, secretary of the European Committee and employee of the Contes cement plant in France.
- "A joint declaration to combine our forces"
The safety targets that the Group has set for itself can only be met through the active participation of all the employees. "There can be discrepancies between the Group's principles and the commitments that the Direction Générale takes, on the one hand, and reality on the ground, on the other," explains Patrice Ponceau. "With the Joint Declaration, local management and personnel representatives jointly pledge to reduce the number of accidents. The message being addressed to employees is a strong one: they are going to have to take an active role and mobilize. Our safety results will depend on their commitment."

- "A general declaration and local applications"
The joint declaration is a frame of reference in which general principles will have to be adapted and applied locally. "We are talking about a cultural change. What we have to change is our reflexes when faced with our own safety and that of other people! This change will only occur if it is initiated at grass roots level, in the plants. We worked for two years to establish the terms of this declaration. We had to decide what the fundamental principles and limits of commitment would be. It's really a declaration of principles that the management and personnel of each Business Unit will have to take up and implement concretely."

The principal areas identified for action are:
- the creation of health and safety committees consisting of employee representatives and members of management, with a role of promoting implementation of the policy, spreading preventive and corrective actions, receiving complaints, etc.
- involvement of employees in the process of continuous improvement (studies, surveys, audits) ;
- training (procedures, methods, utilization of equipment, etc.);
- information relating to health and safety
"Everyone is free to develop the most appropriate initiatives for their local reality. What counts is getting results."

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