The Italian ceramic industry cares about people and takes all the necessary precautions to ensure the well-being of its employees. This involves providing personal protective equipment, informing workers about occupational hazards and adopting the protective measures necessary to create a safe workplace.
Falls from heights are one of the most frequent causes of workplace fatalities in Italy. Workers are exposed to this risk if they work at a height of more than 2 metres above a stable surface*. This includes elevated structures such as scaffolding, platforms, ladders, canopies, silos, roofs and the areas around mills and storage and mixing tanks.
Solutions for protecting workers
Ceramic companies devote great attention to the safety of workers operating at heights above 2 metres. The use of collective protective measures (barriers, parapets, etc.) together with anti-fall devices enable ceramic industry employees to work safely even at high elevations. The main functions of fall protection equipment are to:
- slow down and arrest the fall;
- cushion the arrest to prevent trauma;
- restrain the worker and prevent falls into dangerous areas;
- facilitate recovery operations by rescue workers.
The equipment is identified following a careful assessment of the specific requirements according to the construction characteristics of the plants and the type of work to be carried out.
These devices protect workers from serious injury and meet precise requirements established by technical regulations and current legislation.
Restraint systems, work positioning systems, rope access systems, fall arrest systems and rescue systems are widely used in the industry.
Users of these types of equipment (classified as category 3) are required to attend regular education and training courses to ensure correct use and handling.
Promoting a culture of safety
The results achieved are based on the Memorandum of Understanding for the prevention of accidents involving falls from heights, signed on 12 September 2002 by the Italian ceramic industry with the aim of protecting workers and further improving their safety conditions.*
The document, drawn up together with the Modena and Reggio Emilia Local Health Authorities, the Employers’ Associations and Trade Unions of the two provinces, analyses the risks and the applicable regulations and indicates the obligations that must be met and the protective equipment that must be adopted inside industrial facilities.
By signing the Memorandum of Understanding, the Italian ceramic industry undertakes to promote worker training, to examine the possibility of incentivising ceramic companies through reward schemes and to monitor the effectiveness of the commitments undertaken in order to evaluate whether to extend them to other manufacturing sectors where there is a risk of falling from heights.
Safety begins with information
After signing the Memorandum of Understanding, the Italian ceramic industry undertook to raise awareness of the risks posed by falling from height among company employees and contractors and promoted numerous safety information initiatives.
In cooperation with the Modena and Reggio Emilia AUSL (local health authority) and CERFORM (Centre for professional and management training for the Italian ceramic industry), a digital information tool has been created to guide users through the issue of falls from heights in the workplace, including theme sections, best practices, technical documents, self-assessment sheets and a practical glossary.
The software is aimed at workers who work at heights, as well as technical department managers, foremen and everyone involved in company safety. This tool can also be used as a teaching aid for school training courses.