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Prevention through design: The effect of European Directives on construction workplace accidents

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journal contribution
posted on 20.05.2010, 11:57 by M.D. Martinez Aires, M.C. Rubio Gamez, Alistair Gibb
Workplace accidents still occur with distressing frequency, particularly in construction. Industrialized countries have become increasingly aware of this situation and have adopted policies to attempt to deal with this issue. Such policies have led to the development of new laws and regulations with a view to improving workplace conditions. This paper first analyzes policies regarding accident prevention in the European Union, as initially stipulated in the European Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, and more specifically in Directive 92/57/EEC, on the implementation of minimum safety and health requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites, concentrating on prevention through design. Whilst designers previously had some responsibilities for reducing risk under common law provisions in many countries, this directive was the first explicit legislation to enforce particular duties upon them. The adaptation of the provisions in this directive to the national legislation of EU member countries is also studied. The second section of the paper analyzes the incidence rate of workplace accidents in the construction sector in each country from the year when these regulations came into force until the present time. Based on the evolution of these accident rates, the paper postulates the extent to which European policies have contributed to accident prevention in construction. It is now more than a decade since this legislation has been in force which provides a suitable period for a reflective analysis on it is impact.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


MARTINEZ AIRES, M.D., RUBIO GAMEZ, M.C. and GIBB, A.G.F., 2010. Prevention through design: The effect of European Directives on construction workplace accidents. Safety Science, 48(2), pp. 248-258.


© Elsevier


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