Numerous Controls and Contractual Maze Lead to Deadly Race in Construction Sites

Numerous Controls and Contractual Maze Lead to Deadly Race in Construction Sites

The CGIA of Mestre identified the lack of appropriate training among installation workers as a potential reason for the high number of fatalities at construction sites on Saturday. Following a tragic incident in Florence, the issue has come back into focus. According to the Inail database, the CGIA reports that there were 1,208 fatal workplace accidents reported in Italy in 2022. 175 of these, almost one every two days, were in the construction industry. In this sector, 63 deaths (or 36 percent of the total) were plant installation workers. The artisan association claims that these workers, who are covered by the metalworkers’ contract, may not undergo the same mandatory training as builders and may even perform tasks beyond their capabilities. We sought clarification from Silvia Simoncini, a member of the Fiom national secretariat with responsibility for health and safety and an expert in the installer sector.

Simoncini begins by stating that it is hard to obtain comprehensive data as the information held by Inail pertains to the planned activity’s Ateco codes, and the Inps’s contractual applications are challenging to cross-reference. This is because the two databases do not communicate, making it impossible to determine which collective agreements companies with installation Ateco codes adhere to. However, Simoncini is not convinced by this explanation for two primary reasons. Firstly, the metalworkers’ contract provides robust protections, making its misuse unlikely in an industry where undeclared work is common. Secondly, the Consolidated Law on Safety at Work or Legislative Decree 81 of 2008 mandates a Risks Rating document (DVR) and specific training provided by the company for each workplace, regardless of the employee’s contractual status.

As Simoncini explains to Agi, a mechanical company that installs systems has its standard training and another one specific to the DVR, as working at high speed presents different risks from those in a residential area or private home. Decree 81 does not consider collective agreements, so the company is always responsible for risk assessment.

A system of “work pulverization”

The high number of workplace deaths in the shipbuilding industry raises questions. Simoncini criticizes a system of “work pulverization” with “cascading contracts and subcontracts” that places workers in conditions that risk their health and safety. She indicates that the emerging dynamic from severe incidents like the one in Florence is a deregulation that heightens risk for those working in this subcontracting system. The maximum reduction subcontracting mechanism exacerbates the issue, as it demands activities be done in less time and at lower costs than usual, compromising training and safety. This mechanism triggers many fatal accidents.

However, it’s not just deregulation and a rise in contractual parties that complicate controls. The National Labor Inspectorate is short on technicians, too. Micaela Cappellini, Tuscany Fp Cgil regional coordinator for the Labor Inspectorate, reported that only ten inspectors with technician qualifications were available in all of Tuscany after the death of five workers in Sesto, with two on duty in Florence. This situation stems from a prolonged hiring freeze in the Public Administration, which was only partially addressed last year with a competition to hire 800 inspectors. Simoncini concludes that this hiring effort is still insufficient in a field that requires far more resources.