KANBrief 3/14

18 years in the service of prevention

Following an international career in industry, Philippe Jandrot began working for the CNAMTS, the French employees' health insurance institution, in 1997. In 2000, he left to join the INRS, the French National Research and Safety Institute. Since 2003, he has been Director of Prevention at the INRS, and in this function has been responsible for all of the INRS's activities for implementing prevention findings and measures in the field. He retires on 1 October 2014.

Mr Jandrot, what in your opinion are the defining characteristics of a culture of prevention?

A culture of prevention comprises a wide range of elements which in combination lead to sustainable prevention. The underlying principles of the culture must be internalized by all parties involved: the recognition that accidents generally have more than just one cause (the multicausal approach), from which effective prevention measures can be identified; the general principles of prevention, which are set out in the European OSH Framework Directive, 89/391/EEC (Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work); the responsibility of employers to ensure that prevention is an integral part of all their activities; and so forth. In addition, certain essential values must be observed: orientation towards the human factor, transparency, social dialogue. For these reasons, the INRS has joined the worldwide trend towards the development of a prevention culture. This was incidentally also one of the major topics at the 2014 World Congress on Safety and Health at Work.

What can be done to add substance to this prevention culture?

One key is making prevention an integral part of training. Prevention must form part of every employee's skills set, whether they are a manager or the lowest grade of worker, and whether they work in construction, in agriculture, in metalworking, or in any other sector.

Having said that, it generally takes ten to twenty years for a new idea to come to fruition and actually be put into practice. The work of the INRS is therefore based upon long-term projects. All disciplines must be involved, and the full breadth of instruments employed in such a way that the requirements of prevention are met and the various target groups in enterprises made aware of findings, methods and tools.

What importance do you attach to co-operation at European level?

I am convinced that co-operation is the only way for us to reach our goals in prevention. Both within the INRS and outside it, experts will be able to fulfil their role in full only if they are able to compare their positions with those of a group. For this reason, I have always expressly supported the activities of the EUROSHNET network, for example as chairman of the steering committee and during organization of the European conferences in Paris, Cracow and Helsinki. Cogent cross-disciplinary positions, which have been drawn up in international groups of experts, are now highly effective in the area of occupational safety and health.

This is particularly the case for the area of standardization. Standards are an excellent tool for promoting safety and health at work. Since standardization work is increasingly moving to the European and international levels, it is also essential for occupational safety and health experts to reach agreements across borders, in order to carry their positions through and thus to contribute to greater safety at work throughout the world.

What challenges will occupational safety and health face in the future?

Human beings must once again be accorded their proper status within their working environments. The fourth principle of prevention of the 89/391/EEC Framework Directive requires work to be adapted to the human factor. Neglect of this principle currently borders on the criminal, however. In the development of numerous new systems and forms of technology, such as e-mail services, management systems, aids to decisionmaking, etc., human beings are all too frequently at the service of the system. This contempt for the role of human beings is probably one of the greatest hazards currently facing our society.

Mr Jandrot, thank you for granting us this interview. We would like to wish you all the best for your future activities on land and at sea.