Commenting on data from the latest world workplace safety report, jointly presented in 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), both UN agencies, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke of a "wake-up call" that needs to be sounded for governments and companies around the world to become more engaged in ensuring the health and safety of all workers.
This is a wake-up call that the United Nations sounds every April 28 on World Day for Safety and Health at Work, established 20 years ago. It’s an initiative created to draw attention to all dimensions of a complex problem: from preventing traumatic accidents to protecting against chronic illnesses caused by strenuous and repetitive working conditions, from reducing occupational stress and its impact on workers' mental health to reducing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in the workplace.
A global problem
Although there are huge differences between countries, workplace safety is critical everywhere.
Illnesses and accidents at work can have serious consequences on the standard of living and financial security of the families involved, as well as reducing productivity and causing an increase in health care spending, which, two years ago, was estimated at more than 3% of GDP worldwide and nearly 4% in Europe, according to data from the European Commission. In Italy, according to a study by the University of Milan conducted in 2022 on behalf of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Working Conditions, the impact of accidents and deaths at work on GDP is between 3% and 6.3%. International organizations see greater protection of workers' health as an essential element of sustainable development. The issue is mentioned several times in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in various goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
The UN has repeatedly emphasized that an important element in increasing occupational safety and health, in addition to strict compliance with regulations, is the presence of a strong culture of safety at work, of an environment in which each individual worker knows how to report risks, even those that cannot be predicted in advance, and in which management acts quickly to find effective and sustainable solutions.
The most valuable resource
This is the kind of culture our Group wants to promote, both internally and among the companies with which it works. Enel considers people's safety and health, both physical and psychological, as a valuable asset to be protected, and as a fundamental right to be guaranteed everywhere: in the workplace as well as at home and during leisure time.
Our commitment to this issue lasts 365 days a year. That’s why we have a Health and Safety Policy that requires every company and every business line to adopt its own Health and Safety Management System consistent with international standards. At the Group level, Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) oversees the safety policy, constantly verifies compliance with its objectives and identifies areas for improvement.
Underlying this policy is the application of established methods of risk prevention, as well as the continuous collection of data and monitoring of critical issues, which once analyzed become a resource for bringing about further improvements. Among the cornerstones of our health and safety policy is also the promotion of safety leadership: the idea that everyone, regardless of their role or function in the company, can and should feel responsible for their own life and health and that of others.
From our Stop Work Policy to Artificial Intelligence
Of particular importance in this regard is our Stop Work Policy, in effect since 2020. This policy stipulates that people at work – whether Enel employees or people from the companies we work with – must intervene promptly, stopping and reporting any activity that could put their own or others' health and safety at risk, or that could cause harm to the environment.
Technological innovation can also be of great help in increasing safety at work, and our Group is experimenting with a wide range of devices and services, such as the "Personal Voltage Detector": a portable device capable of detecting electrical voltage, even on lines that are distant from the person and not affected by the activity in progress, thereby helping to avoid accidents for those working on infrastructure and grids.
Or the "AI4Lifting" project, which uses Artificial Intelligence to detect dangerous situations when handling heavy loads, or "Hop Safe," a system that prevents the use of ladders if the operator is not properly hooked to the lifeline. Currently being tested are systems that monitor people's health in real time, to prevent and manage dangerous or emergency situations in a timely manner. This is the case of "Safety 4 Lone workers," which, thanks to a smartwatch and special algorithms, monitors the biometric parameters of workers who work alone and are therefore more exposed to certain risks.
Training and information
While these measures mainly concern safety, on the health front, last year Enel approved a new version of our Health and Wellbeing Policy, based on health monitoring, prevention, and the promotion of health and wellness, which includes, for example, periodic surveys among staff on work-related stress, or webinars and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of smoking, cardiovascular diseases and, in general, issues and aspects that are hot topics and have a big impact on the daily lives of our colleagues around the world.
Training also plays a fundamental role: in 2022 Enel delivered more than one million hours of health and safety training, 4.7 % more than the previous year.
The most obvious results of this multi-pronged effort were, in 2022, a 21.3% reduction compared to 2021 in the total accident frequency rate for the Group, and a steady decline in the total number of accidents. These are important steps toward our goal of zero accidents and ensuring health and well-being for every single person involved in Enel's business activities.
Enel for World Safety Day
On April 28, we will dedicate many initiatives to World Day for Safety and Health at Work, aimed at our own people and those of our contractors, in the various countries where we operate.
In Chile, for example, there will be a sports challenge between Enel personnel and contractors, combined with safety messages and an award to the contractor company with the best safety performance. In Colombia, webinars on occupational hazards will be offered to contractors –including one, curated by Enel X, dedicated specifically to mental health – and a safety contest and workshop on telecommuting risks will also be held. In Romania, the program includes a webinar for contractors on the risks related to falls from heights and on the Stop Work Policy, as well as one in partnership with traffic police on safe driving. In Spain, two informational videos on prevention and safety will be presented and spread on the web, while in Argentina there will be a series of online courses and virtual inspections of plant safety procedures. In North America, an interactive awareness-raising activity will be proposed to identify the main risks at work. In Italy, a series of initiatives are planned with activities carried out remotely and in the office, including the launch of a training campaign on the culture of safety in the use of cars, an awareness-raising activity within Spazi Enel for Market personnel, and special field training sessions for contractors on the main risks. In Brazil, several initiatives will be held with all the Group's business lines working in concert: in particular, there will be an online event during which an awareness video will be shown and colleagues who have distinguished themselves in prevention activities will be awarded. Finally, a wide range of activities common to all business lines, both in-person and online, is also planned in Peru.