Construction sites under pressure, poorly protected workers

On January 5, an Eiffage worker was killed by the fall of a metal bar on the construction site of the Pleyel station of the Grand Paris Express, the metro that will tour the Parisian suburbs. “Another fatal accident on a site that concentrates a lot”, observes Matthieu Lépine, a history professor from Montreuil who has undertaken to list, on Twitter and on his blog, accidents at work, to recall that, behind the statistics, “each victim is also a person, a name, a story, a family”.

It shows how the Grand Paris Express concentrates the difficulties. “The only line 16 is two dead and at least 5 injured”, he summarizes.

The Paris region concentrates construction sites, and therefore accidents

Thus Abdoulaye Soumahoro, 41, fell 30 m, on December 22, 2020, in a concrete mixer in La Courneuve, a few days before another worker fell on the site of the Saint-Denis station. In May, a temporary worker was hit by a concrete slab at Le Bourget, a worker had his hand torn off by a tunnel boring machine in Aulnay, then two were seriously injured by a dumpster…

With the Grand Paris Express, the Olympic Games and urban renewal, the Paris region concentrates construction sites, and therefore accidents. But the regional press is full of examples, including falls: from scaffolding on January 5 in Bordeaux (Gironde), from a roof on January 6 in Narbonne (Aude), or Monday January 10 in a turbine at the Marckolsheim (Bas-Rhin).

Unfortunate coincidences? Health insurance statistics show a steady increase inaccidents, including fatalities, since 2013. While 2020 experienced a historic decline with containment, 2019 posted a peak with 733 deaths.

4,632 dangerous construction sites stopped in 2019

The construction industry alone accounts for 14% of accidents and 19% of deaths, to the point where there is an accident every two minutes! With significant financial consequences: “For companies in the sector, work stoppages due to accidents represent the equivalent of 36,000 full-time jobs”, recalls health insurance, which estimates “5% of the total building cost” the financial impact of accidents at work. The annual contributions of the construction industry to the specialized branch of health insurance, which vary according to the number of accidents, amount to 1 billion euros per year.

Covid-19: labor inspection has intervened less in companies

Faced with these figures, the labor inspectorate is increasing its interventions, in particular against falls from height which, with 61 deaths, constitute the second cause of accident after handling.

In 2019, the inspectors thus put an end to 4,632 construction sites deemed dangerous, and last year, in the Corsica region alone, particularly targeted after a worrying increase in falls, 50 controlled construction sites gave rise to 11 stoppages and 18 arrests. remains !

Lockdown delays increase pressure

If construction professionals assure that they devote a lot of resources to safety, Matthieu Lépine notes that the multiplication of subcontractors makes it difficult to apply the measures.

Especially since the delays due to confinement increase the pressure. “On May 18, in Bayonne, Xavier Desplebin, 43, was buried in a trench, he says. The investigation showed that the accident had been caused by the pressure on the rates and the resulting negligence. »

He is also concerned about the increasingly frequent use of autoentrepreneurs. Thus Michel Brahim, one of the very first victims of whom he spoke: this 67-year-old roofer, who continued to work to supplement his retirement of 700 €, fell at the beginning of 2019 from the roof of the prefecture of Versailles – who was unaware that the construction site used subcontractors. Michel Brahim made 70% of his turnover with the same company: it’s disguised employment “, is indignant Matthieu Lépine.

However, because they are self-employed, these autoentrepreneurs are not covered by health insurance for “work risk” and are not included in its statistics. A reality that goes beyond the construction sector, especially with the proliferation of bicycle delivery people. Tuesday, January 11, a 16-year-old Deliveroo delivery man was killed, hit by a truck in Lille (Nord).


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