National OSH Strategy - France

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0 Introduction

In the European Union, the strategic framework on OSH is used to develop the EU policy on OSH and coordinate the national policies of the Member States. The EU strategic framework  identifies key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work and presents actions and instruments to address these in the coming years.

The EU strategic framework (2021 – 2027) addresses the changing needs in worker’s protection brought by the digital and green transitions, new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the framework will continue to address traditional occupational safety and health risks, such as risks of accidents at work, exposure to hazardous chemicals musculoskeletal disorders or mental health problems. The success of the framework depends on its implementation at EU, national, sectoral and enterprise levels.

National strategies are well known as a policy instrument to enhance the effectiveness of an OSH system through the collaborative and smart use of resources. They include approaches such as priority setting, prior action defining and action plans. The Commission calls on Member States to update and draw up their national occupational safety and health strategies in line with this strategic framework - in cooperation with social partners - to ensure that the new measures reach the workplace.

The French Ministry of Labour draws up and implements French occupational health and safety policy and manages cooperation with the social partners in the Conseil d’orientation sur les conditions de travail (COCT). In 2004, the first Occupational Health Plan (Plan Santé au Travail, PST) for 2005-2009 was adopted, aimed to reform France's occupational risk prevention system.

1 Basic information

The current French National Occupational Health Plan ist the fourth Occupational Health Plan - PST 4. It is available in French: Plan santé au travail 2021 – 2025 (PST 4) (Occupational Health Plan 2021-2025)[1].

The first Occupational Health Plan (Plan Santé au Travail, PST) covered the period from 2005-2009. The second Occupational Health Plan (PST2) covered the period 2010-2014 and was launched in 2010 and the third Occupational Health Plan (PST3) launched in 2015 covered the period 2016 to 2020.

  • Plan santé au travail 2005-2009, PST 1[2]
  • Plan santé au travail 2010-2014, PST 2[3]
  • Plan santé au travail 2016- 2020, PST 3[4]

2. Background and the perceived problem

The Occupational Health Plan (PST 4) presented for the period 2021-2025 sets out the roadmap for occupational health for the next four years, a result of the cooperation between the Government, the social security bodies and prevention bodies as well as the social partners.

The PST 4 is based on the evaluation of the PST 3 and the Regional Occupational Health Plans PRST 3 (published in July 2021).

Accidents at work, and in particular serious and fatal accidents, remain the priority of public occupational health policy. In 2020, more than 540.000 workplace related accidents including 550 fatalities have been reported. Therefore, the PST 4 puts at the top of its strategy the mission: “Fighting against serious and fatal work accidents”

3. Main characteristics and objectives of the OSH-strategy (activity plan)

The PST 4 is a continuation of the PST 3. The objectives of the former PST 3 remain fundamental: focus on prevention rather than cure, focus on work health promotion, strengthening social dialogue, focus on vulnerable groups. However, new themes have been integrated to the PST 4, such as the effects of climate change, protection, preparedness and response against human health crises and the equality between women and men. Finally, links between the PST 4 and the other plans and programs having an impact on workers (health, environment, cancer, agriculture, etc.) are reaffirmed and deepened.

The overall axis (transversal axis) of the strategy PST 4 is related to “Fighting against serious and fatal accidents at work”. This transversal axis is supported by four strategic axes:

  1. Promotion of primary prevention at work and the culture of prevention
  2. Prevention of professional disintegration, prevention of work-related strain, job retention and supporting workers and companies concerned.
  3. Adapting occupational health and safety policies to the challenges of today and tomorrow
  4. Strengthen management and governance of occupational health and safety prevention

4. Details of the strategy and activity plan

Axis description

Overview: The strategy includes one transversal axis and four strategic axes with ten objectives. The ten objectives are broken down into a program of 33 actions and 90 “sub-actions”.

Strategic axis 1:

Promotion of primary prevention at work and the culture of prevention

Objective 1: Promote the culture of prevention, support the assessment of occupational risks and prevention approaches

Objective 2: Prioritise the main occupational risks

Objective 3: Promote the quality of life and working conditions, particularly at the organisational level

Strategic axis 2:

Prevention of professional disintegration, prevention of work-related strain, job retention and supporting workers and companies concerned.

Objective 4: Prevent professional disintegration and burnout by supporting the employees and companies concerned to facilitate job retention

Strategic axis 3:

Adapting occupational health and safety policies to the challenges of today and tomorrow

Objective 5: Encourage the development of a shared approach to health (public health, occupational health, environmental health)

Objective 6: Anticipate crises to better manage them and limit their long-term effects

Objective 7: Develop research and improve knowledge, particularly on emerging risks

Strategic 4: Strengthen management and governance of occupational health and safety prevention

Objective 8: Strengthen joint actions and social dialogue for the benefit of prevention and occupational health

Objective 9: Strengthen support for companies by mobilising professional branches and coordinating prevention actors

Objective 10: Structure and share occupational health data using digital tools

5 Actors and stakeholders

The development of this plan (PST4) involved not only the administrations concerned but also the prevention organisations and all social partners within the framework of the permanent orientation group (GPO) of the national Council on Working conditions (COCT)[5]: the government, social partners (employers and trade unions), social security bodies and prevention institutions, occupational safety and health bodies (French National Health Insurance Fund for Employees (CNAMTS), National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS), National Agency for Working Conditions (Anact), National French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (Anses), National Public Health Agency (ANSP), Occupational safety administration for the building and public works sector (OPPBTP), Agricultural Mutual Assistance Fund (MSA)).

The national Council on Working conditions (COCT) participates in the development of national and international strategic guidelines related to health and safety at work, the improvement of working conditions and the prevention of occupational risks, providing a basis for the elaboration of the strategy.

6 Resources and time frame

The current Strategy covers the period from 2021– 2025

The Occupational Health Plan does not include information on the budget planned for implementation of the program.

7 Evaluation

An evaluation of the PST 3 (Plan santé au travail 2016 – 2020) was published in July 2021 [6]. The report presents an analysis of the 58 actions performed during the period of 5 years, as well as an assessment of the 8 priority objectives set by the State, institutional prevention specialists and regional social partners

Lessons learned from PST3: Better address the different dimensions of health work, at the interface of public health and environmental health

Ex ante indicators for the years 2021 to 2025

The PST 4 lists 14 strategic indicators

  1. Number of work accidents and number work related diseases
  2. Number of fatal workplace accidents (workers < 25 years)
  3. Regular evaluation of accident occurrence and claims
  4. Number of workers exposed to carcinogens
  5. Number of companies with an updated risk assessment document (DUERP)
  6. Number of training courses performed related prevention of occupational
  7. Number of companies committed to a joint approach to improve the quality of life and working conditions
  8. Surveys on quality of working life, job satisfaction
  9. Turnover and workplace absenteeism
  10. Number of workers of risk losing their job (disintegration)
  11. Number of workers supported by social insurances
  12. Number of notifications because of work related absence/disability from the workplace
  13. Number of publications on occupational health and safety
  14. Number of agreements between OSH actors (Promoting social dialogue in the company)

8 Relationship to EU Strategic Framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027

The PST 4 was developed in compliance with the EU strategic framework

The PST4 includes many related topics such as:

  • Promotion of primary prevention at work and the culture of prevention
  • Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders
  • Preventing exposure to dangerous substances with a focus on carcinogens
  • Asbestos in demolition work
  • Ensuring health and safe workplaces during the digital and environmental transitions
  • Prevention of psychosocial risks
  • Anticipate crisis to better manage them and limit their long-term-effects

9 References

  1. Plan santé au travail 2021 – 2025 (PST 4). Available at: [1]
  2. Plan de santé au travail 2005-2009 (PST). Available at: [2]
  3. Plan de santé au travail 2010-2014 (PST 2). Available at: [3]
  4. Plan de santé au travail 2016-2020 (PST 3). Available at: [4]
  5. Conseil d’orientation sur les conditions de travail, COCT, a national body for consultation between social partners and public authorities, placed with the Minister for Labour. It is composed of 11 members from the ministerial department and prevention bodies, 8 members from employer’s organisations and 8 members from worker’s organisations, and 15 experts. More information at: [5]
  6. Plan santé au travail 3 2016 – 2020 - Bilan. Available at: [6]

Contributors

e.schmitzfelten