OSH system in France
In France, the company head is solely and personally responsible for employee safety and health. The occupational accidents and diseases prevention system is a dual system in France:
• State authorities on one side, and
• Social Security on the other.
In France, trade unions and employer organisations are at the centre of the prevention system.
State Authorities, in charge of occupational risk prevention policy
The Ministry for Labour defines and coordinates the government’s policies on occupational safety and health, in particular through the national occupational health plan.
Representatives of employer organisations and trade unions assist the Ministry for Labour, through a Working Conditions Steering Committee (COCT).
Its action is relayed to the field by the occupational health inspectorate and the labour inspectorate.
Social Security, for prevention and compensation
Social insurance is in charge of defining prevention measures and resources and guaranteeing compensation to victims of occupational accidents and diseases. The Occupational Risk Directorate of Social Security (CNAM/DRP) implements the occupational accidents and diseases prevention policy decided by trade unions and employer organisations. These organisations are heavily involved in the management of the occupational accidents and diseases branch of Social Security through the occupational accidents and disease commission in particular (CAT-MP).
At regional level, it acts through the Prevention Services of Social Security (CARSAT and CGSS in overseas departements). These are in direct contact with the companies and in particular with the occupational health services out in the regions.
INRS, a key OSH player
INRS collaborates with the State and all prevention bodies to implement the national occupational risk prevention policy. Its activities are targeted at employees and companies, particularly those falling under the general Social Security scheme.
INRS’s Board of Directors is made up of representatives of trade unions and industry associations.
The major role of company heads
Company heads are the main prevention partners in the firm. According to regulations, they must guarantee the health and safety of workers by implementing appropriate measures (depending on their risk assessment). To do so, they must seek all technical assistance and advice necessary.
Other partners assist the company head in prevention-related decision-making:
- The Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee (CHSCT), which is the forum for discussions among managers and workers. The CHSCT is in charge, in particular, of analysing risks to which the employees are exposed and proposing to the employer the measures deemed necessary. It is chaired by the manager or their representative and is made up of staff delegates. The occupational physician attends meetings in an advisory capacity. The labour inspector and agents from the prevention services of Social Security at regional level are also invited to attend;
- Staff delegates (in firms where there is no CHSCT);
- Health and safety specialists. In some firms, the manager may assign a person specifically in charge of occupational safety and health matters. The title and function of this health and safety specialist vary with the firms - safety engineers, safety coordinators, etc;
- Occupational health services. Occupational health services, whether in-house or contracted, are in charge of medical surveillance of employees (with regular visits) and monitoring of working conditions (by studying workstations and conditions of exposure to risks).