Organisation for Prevention of Occupational Hazards in the Construction Industry

OPPBTP is the French Professional Agency for Risk Prevention in Building and Civil Engineering (BCE). Its mission is to advise, train and inform companies in this sector on the prevention of work-related accidents and occupational safety, and improve working conditions.

Thanks to its network of 340 members across 16 agencies in France, OPPBTP supports companies in risk-analysis within their profession, with a complete documentation offer, and in implementing training plans.

OPPBTP offers companies services and training courses tailored to their needs. On its website www.preventionbtp.fr, there are various publications, practical tools and guidance sheets readily available to help companies in their risk prevention management.

Prevention and performance

A study carried out by the OPPBTP reveals that prevention has a quantifiable economic impact and that it pays off.

Risk prevention plays a major role in the improvement of safety and the health of workers in the construction industry. During these difficult times it can be perceived as an added cost by companies.

Convinced that prevention cannot be sustainable if there is a negative economic cost, the OPPBTP wanted to analyse the economic impact of prevention and quantify it. To do so, since 2010 the organisation has been carrying out a microeconomic study with a representative selection of businesses in the construction industry. This study reveals an average return (gains/costs) for prevention of 2.2. It is accessible and within reach of all companies, in particular the very small companies which show the best return, without putting undue strain on the budget. What's more, the study showed that by actively preventing illnesses or accidents, more often than not, economic performance and global performance of companies increases.


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Gains in the main areas of operational excellence

The OPPBTP was able to measure that the impact of preventive actions undertaken was positive in over 90% of cases. The study carried out by the organisation since 2010 shows a global return of 2.20 which means that for 100 Euros invested in a preventive action, the company makes a 200 Euros gain, which means a benefit of 120 euros. This result is even more impressive in very small companies (companies with less than 10 employees) where the global return is above 3.

 The gains observed are apparent in the companies' main areas of operational excellence:

  • Productivity – Working in safe conditions is more time efficient and accounts for over 70% of all gains.
  • Purchases – A better use of resources ensures that up to 11% of the gains are made in this key area.
  • Quality - 80% of actions studied are related to gains linked to quality, even if they were not always quantifiable.
  • Margins - 11 % of the gains come from margins obtained thanks to an increase in turnover linked to activities created by these actions.

The companies involved used these gains in a way best adapted to their situation: to recruit staff, to invest, to maintain their margins and their competitiveness when faced with ever-increasing costs.


Carte Dimeco


Small companies in particular are the winners

The consolidated results (2014) of the study, where most of the data came from SMEs (small and mid-sized companies) and micro companies, prove that prevention is within the reach of all companies. It shows that the smaller companies have the best returns: they recorded a very quick return on investment at one and a half years on average for a 5,000 Euro investment.


The impact of the preventive actions undertaken in the audited companies are classified according to four criteria:

  • The level of prevention for health, i.e. the ability to prevent a deterioration in the health of an employee. This concerns deferred risks that could cause a work-related illness;
  • The level of prevention of hardship ;
  • The level of personal development provided to each employee concerned.

 Each case studied was the subject of pieces of information gathered on-site and classified according to 4 stages:

  • The key points of the case, describing the action, the situation before and after, headcount of those concerned, the results and the return obtained.
  • Analysis of the case explaining the significant action points.
  • The prevention assessment to evaluate the results of prevention of 4 criteria – physical safety, health, hardship, personal development – on a scale of 0 to 3 (3 for the complete eradication of risk, 2 for a strong reduction, 1 for a slight reduction, 0 for the absence of impact). Two complementary approaches, sustainable development and quality, showcase each company's social responsibility.
  • Economic assessment, illustrated by a table of costs and gains – over a defined timescale we calculate the action taken, the headcount involved, the return, the time for return on investment, the assessment per employee and per year, the savings made.

The result of the assessment of the case studies is excellent, with an elimination or strong reduction of risk in 80% of cases. This is an exemplary process with a good quality selection of companies as a result of the OPPBTP's decision to study actions that have an impact on the prevention of risks before taking into account the economic aspect.



Type of action : Preparation and organisation of the work in an artisanal business of 7 employees dealing with roof coverings.

Prevention initiative : rental of a self-erecting crane for each construction site for covering roofs.

The use of a self-erecting crane, with a reach that covers the whole build area, on all the construction sites for roof covering, to replace a freight hoist as a means of lifting meant that manual handling and risks of falling could be reduced. Disregarding the time saved thanks to the ease and speed of building the crane, the average time spent on a construction site went from 36 to 32 days for 3 people.

Return (gains/costs) 3.59 – Return on investment 0.2 years

Discover the case analysis(fr)



Type of action : purchase of machine or equipment in a construction company with 4 employees.

Prevention initiative : purchase of a multi-use screw pump and compact mixer system to make wall  joints.

The use of this new equipment enabled a significant reduction in repetitive and restrictive tasks for the employees (hardship and MSK), reducing the number of intervention hours from 56 to 21 for each member of staff, to add value to labour (productivity) and to prevent chemical risks.

Return (gains/costs) 7.74 – Return on investment 0.5 years

Discover the case analysis (fr)


See further examples at: www.preventionbtp.fr (fr)

Highlighting the financial value of risk avoidance is absolutely essential

The prevention of occupational hazards is an absolute necessity in the construction industry where, because of the physical input necessary in this line of work, danger is present on a daily basis. Protecting the health and safety of men and women working on building sites is not only an ethical and social obligation. It is also a strong regulatory requirement and, because of the high level of risk, the public authorities have established a strict and comprehensive framework of rules in the labour legislation.

However, many construction industry companies, management and staff, think that prevention represents a cost for the company. To fight this prejudice and convince them to take action, the OPPBTP carried out a study of the link between prevention and economic performance.

Traditional economic arguments highlighting the benefits of prevention are almost exclusively based on costs: costs of potential accidents avoided and costs reduced due to lower absenteeism, for example. These arguments are not bad, whether it's regarding the reduction of accidents in the workplace or work-related illnesses, or actions aiming to reduce the number of construction industry employees on sick leave, estimated on average at over 35,000 per day. This approach however is not enough to get all companies to commit to prevention.

The OPPBTP wanted to go further down that line of thought by speaking about economic performance and also by studying the positive economic factors of preventive actions.



Field research with companies committed to taking concrete action

The OPPBTP has invested a lot in a detailed accounting approach of cases of preventative actions undertaken by construction industry companies in France. The aim is to precisely highlight not only the costs but also the gains recorded following these actions and to measure the improvement of working conditions for the staff involved. This study is currently based on data from 66 companies covering 90% of the trades in this sector, in which 170 preventative actions were analysed in detail.

  • Each case was characterised according to the company (size, trade…), the type of action undertaken (organisation, equipment, human), the risk concerned,
  • An economic assessment per action was established, on the basis of a before/after analysis of every position affected by the action. Similarly, a prevention assessment highlights and characterises the results obtained in terms of prevention (risk eliminated or reduced).

"The advisers who analyse the results of preventive actions take into account the environment of the company and its realistic situation. Result: top management are more receptive. They want to know how much money they are making from their investment in prevention." - Joël Poix, Project Manager for ‘The economic dimension of prevention’ at the OPPBTP.

Encouraged by these latest results, the Organisation for Prevention of Hazards in the Construction Industry continues to add to its database in order to showcase new examples of the economic impact of preventive actions on the performance of companies.

Today the OPPBTP aims to demonstrate in the coming  years that, whilst the prevention of occupational hazards is a quantifiable and profitable economic argument that contributes to the global performance of construction industry companies, it should also contribute to the performance of foremen on building sites. This in-depth development work will also be achieved with the help of the "Grandes Ecoles" and the universities who are interested in our actions.


L’OPPBTP publie un guide de préconisations pour assurer la sécurité sanitaire sur les chantiers du BTP.

Télécharger le guide

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