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AN ADEQUATE MANAGERIAL APPROACH

FOR SAFER WORKPLACES AND A HEALTHIER


WORKFORCE
IN A MEDIUM-SIZED AGRICULTURAL EXPLOITATION
S.C. ITC SRL POPESTI LEORDENI

1. Organisations involved
S.C. ITC SRL POPESTI LEORDENI - Popesti Leordeni Work Point

2. Description of the case


2.1. Introduction
S.C. ITC SRL was set up in 1991 as a private entity. The company (in association with S.C.
Agripol) farms 971 hectares of various cereal crops as well as a 240 hectare orchard, and has
59 employees. As well as carrying out direct field exploitation, the company also carries out
research work. For example, in 1994 it started research work into the improvement and
selection of seeds (wheat, barley, sunflower, rape seeds, etc.) to improve agricultural
performance.
Through this work the company has developed close collaborative relationships with the
Association of the Romanian Farmers (AFR - Asociatia Fermierilor din Romania) and the
Romanian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Ensuring safety at work and workers health plays a key role in the companys OSH policy,
given the high OSH risks associated with an agricultural exploitation.
This case particularly refers to the managements direct involvement to ensure adequate
preventive measures against adverse weather conditions i.e. high temperatures during the
canicular summer campaigns.

2.2. Aims
Confronted with adverse hot weather conditions and the risk of high levels of sick leave during
the most important campaign of the year, the companys management team needed to ensure
the financial means for implementing preventive measures very quickly to control the exposure
of workers involved in long periods of outdoor work.
The direct involvement and commitment of the managerial staff in implementing an appropriate
OSH policy aimed at ensuring a constant preventive approach that integrated the management
initiatives, the expertise of external OSH organisations and the workers interactive
participation.

2.3. What was done, and how?


Since the year 2000, a consecutive series of extremely hot canicular summers have occurred,
with outdoor temperatures exceeding 40 C, for unu sually long durations.
Consequently, a series of amendments were issued to the Labour Protection Law 1996 related
to working under adverse weather conditions. These were meant to address the health related

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risks for the workers exposed to unfavourable weather conditions, particularly for those who
work outdoors.
Adopted by mid-2000, the legal amendments were deficient in the implementation
methodology. As a result, they were randomly observed by employers until improvements and
clarifications to the legislative framework and its implementation were made.
However, prior to these amendments, the companys management made outstanding financial
and organisational efforts to address these adverse weather effects upon their employees
health.
An ageing rural population is a characteristic of the agricultural sector in Romania and due
consideration was given to the fact that the employees average age was 45 years. Another
aspect to be considered is that the OSH policy of the company is implemented through an
external OSH service, with an external occupational medicine physician on the basis of
collaborative contracts.
This case study illustrates the way in which the companys good management and OSH
oriented policy has addressed the potential disadvantages of having external OSH services and
occupational medical assistance (i.e. minimal contact with the workers in their daily work
and therefore potential communication gaps) in order to maximise their effectiveness.
Moreover, the direct involvement and commitment of the managerial staff in implementing an
appropriate OSH policy resulted in a constant preventive approach, which integrated the
management initiatives, the external OSH services expertise and the workers interactive
participation.
The preventive measures taken in this respect included both organisational, and health and
safety measures, for instance:
 during the summer campaigns, work involving heavy operations, such as ploughing and
harvesting, were carried out at night to avoid the excessive heat and its effects upon the
field workers health and the potential damage to machinery. Moreover, the effects of the
excessive heat upon the workers health e.g. tiredness, somnolence, high blood
pressure, etc. represented an increased risk of work accidents;
 shift working was carefully considered to minimise risks, eg. the younger workers were
mostly distributed for the daytime works;
 water basins of 500 litre capacity were provided, mainly in the proximity of the parking
zones;
 mineral water mobile tanks supplying drinking water in the field;
 containers of water that workers can use to wash, which are regularly emptied, cleaned
and sanitized before refilling;
 supplementary rest shelters (tents) were provided in the field besides the restrooms that
were not so easily accessible during work time;
 special attention was paid to provide portable toilet facilities that were accessible to the
field workers at convenient distances from their place of work;
 special care was given to the hygiene aspects when considering the high temperatures
exceeding 40 C e.g. fresh aliments were distribute d to the workers during the lunch
break;
 medical checks were more frequently carried out especially for those workers with
particular health problems;
 regular checks were carried out by the responsible persons starting from the company
management and the OSH personnel up to the heads of the working teams to ensure
that these preventive measures are properly applied and observed by the workers at their
workplaces.

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In addition to the above measures, training was also carried out in order to raise workers
awareness of the health risks posed by excessive heat and the benefits of observing a series of
preventive rules to protect their health e.g. increased water consumption adapted to the
physiological needs of the body submitted to excessive heat, taking breaks, adapted diet,
increased hygiene requirements, etc.
This training was often carried out through informal sessions and on particular subjects that the
field workers considered to be problematic. Subjects included machine related risks, recent
health problems, practical solutions to cope with the high temperatures, recommended diet for
hot days, etc. Consequently, workers were regularly consulted and directly involved in setting
up the best preventative measures that they personally should take when confronted with the
excessive heat, alongside with the general prevention plan that the company also provided.
The occupational medicine physician provided supplementary training on first-aid measures to
be taken by the workers themselves at the first signs of insolation, fainting, dizziness, etc.
A survey was carried out at the end of the first summer campaign during which all these
additional OSH measures to address the excessive heat were used. This survey was
conducted by the companys management team and was carried out by the external OSH
service and the occupational medicine physician. A significant reduction in work incidents and
cases of ill health was noticed when compared to the records of the previous years summer
campaign. The companys preventative measures were properly sustained through adequate
financial resources and provided considerable benefits for the workers health and safety. This
helped the company to successfully accomplish the most important campaign of the year,
despite the unfavourable weather conditions.

2.4. What was achieved?


 Measures were taken to protect workers against the health related risks arising from their
exposure to excessive heat for long durations.
 Sickness payments were considerably reduced, as were the additional costs of recruitment
and training new workers to replace those who were sick.
 Avoidance of production losses due to experienced workers sick leave.
 Reduced risks of damage to the machines and equipment used in the summer campaigns.
 Longer life of the machinery and equipment used during the critical weather campaigns.
 The company further developed its OSH policy to address the risks in terms of work
accidents/incidents and ill health during the extremely hot summer campaigns.
 This resulted in a healthier workforce prepared to cope with this increasing risk caused by
global warming.
 Ensuring safer and healthier workplaces helps to increase the stability of the workforce
within the agricultural sector, despite the general tendency of migration to the urban areas
(Popesti-Leordeni is located in the immediate vicinity of Bucharest).
 Increased company reputation recognised through numerous national and international
awards both for its research activity and for the outstanding outcomes obtained in the
agricultural exploitation, including the achievement of safer workplaces and a healthier
workforce through well-targeted and innovative managerial approaches.

2.5. Success factors


 The company managements commitment to address the unavoidable, extreme weather
conditions, through adequate and long-term preventive solutions meant to eliminate/reduce the
health risks was the decisive factor.

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 Preventative measures were implemented without production losses and higher
exploitation costs.
 The innovative side of this managerial approach has provided well targeted preventive
measures matching workers real needs and concerns for their health and safety.
 The allocation of appropriate funding ensured a quick implementation of the preventive
plan.

2.6. Further information


Contact person:
Virginia PETRESCU, Financial Manager, S.C. ITC SRL
Mobile: + 40 721 208 580

2.7. Transferability
The implementation of such prevention measures prior of being expressly stipulated by the law
constitutes a good practice example of managements direct involvement in ensuring healthier
working conditions and safer workplaces in the agricultural sector.
The companys approach described in this case study can be transferred to other farming
activities without major difficulties. Two essential requirements are that there is a similar
managerial commitment and adequate financial resources.
The company carried out a cost-benefit analysis at the end of the first summer campaign after
which most of these measures were implemented, and this demonstrated that there are
significant financial benefits to implementing such measures. Less spectacular outcomes were
obviously obtained in the first year due to the initial investments costs. However, significant
benefits were still registered, mostly as a result of the increased stability of the workforce.
Given its AFR (the Association of the Romanian Farmers) membership, the companys
approach was discussed with other farmers in the area, especially SMEs, and this Good
Practice example was more or less successfully applied by other members.

3. References, resources:
S.C. ITC SRL
Address: 61 Marasti Blvd., Sector 1, 011 464 Bucharest
Phone: + 40 - 21 - 223 10 29 / + 40 - 21 - 223 47 01 / + 40 - 37 - 271 17 30
Fax: + 40 - 21 - 223 42 99
E-mail: office@itcseeds.ro
URL : www.itcseeds.ro

Popesti Leordeni Work Point


Address: 261 Oltenitei Ave., 077 160 Ilfov County
Phone: + 40 21 467 15 22 / 23 / 24
+ 40 037 271 17 30
Fax: + 40 21 467 15 25
E-mail: popesti@itcseeds.ro

Contact person:
Virginia PETRESCU, Financial Manager, S.C. ITC SRL
Mobile: + 40 721 208 580

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