Note published on May 9 in Reforma, Negocios [Business] Section by Verónica Gascón
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Trends. CONSTRUCTION. Companies with high rates of informality are the ones in which more accidents are recorded.
The construction industry is fifth among the sectors with high numbers of workplace accidents; therefore, companies must provide a safe environment and training in order to reduce risks.
According to statistics of the Mexican Social Security Institute, there were 122 thousand 179 workplace accidents in 2021, 8 thousand 838 of these accidents correspond to the construction sector.
“The employee must receive all of the necessary training, paid by the employer, to acquire knowledge on how to prevent these risks, how to use his work tools, how to perform maneuvers and this helps reduce the incidence in an industry, like the construction industry, that has a high rate of workplace accidents”, said Héctor de la Cruz, labor lawyer at the De la Vega & Martínez Firm.
He said that incidence is measured by company, that is, each unit that has its workers registered at the IMSS [Mexican Social Security Institute] must notify the presence of an occupational hazard, whether at the source of work or en route. The IMSS is the one who takes note, qualifies and gives medical attention to the worker.
He added that construction companies pay a high-risk premium and, when incidence rises or there is an increase in risks, it is adjusted in such a way that the employer is required to pay more.
However, there is a high rate of informality in companies operating in this sector.
“In this case, their workers are unprotected in regard to occupational hazards, because they are not registered at the Social Security Institute. In the best of cases, they choose to pay for private care in a clinic, in order for the worker to be treated and, in others, they send the workers to be treated at their own expense, but this is a breach of the law”, said the specialist.
The advantage for the worker who is affiliated with social security is that, in the event that the risk is of a serious nature, he can be given a status of disability that guarantees a pension.
De la Cruz said that there are Official Mexican Standards that cover the equipment that workers must be provided with, such as helmets, goggles, coveralls, non-flammable clothes. There are also other standards that cover training in order for workers to know what to do in case of emergency.
For his part, Jorge Sales, a partner at the Littler Firm, pointed out that personnel subcontracting in this sector is evident and, one year after the reform on this matter entered into force, the discussion on whether all subcontractors, however small they may be, must be registered in the Registry of Specialized Services or Specialized Works (REPSE) continues.
“It is known that in an industry in which there is a certain level of informality, some businesses are even family businesses, the first thing that would need to be done is to cover the topic of registrations, because registration implies compliance with social security obligations”, said Sales.
He added that a culture of risk prevention is needed, as it is very common that basic safety matters, such as the use of helmets or harnesses, are taken lightly in construction works.
The construction industry was the fifth sector with the highest number of accidents in 2021.
WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS BY ECONOMIC ACTIVITY (2021).
|Services for companies and individuals||21,831|
|Social and community services||11,399|
|Transportation and communications||8,230|
|Agriculture, livestock, fishing and hunting||2,912|
|Electrical power industry||530|