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La discussion des modèles d’action, une condition pour l’action des comités en santé et en sécurité au travail

La discussion des modèles d’action, une condition pour l’action des comités en santé et en sécurité au travail

Bernard Dugué et Johann Petit

Volume : 73-2 (2018)


A Discussion of Models of Action, a Condition for Committee Action in Health and Safety at Work

The Committee for Hygiene, Safety and Working Conditions (CHSW) is a key part of the system of occupational risk prevention and improvement of working conditions in French companies. While its role is increasingly recognized, it often has difficulties functioning and finding its place in the industrial relations landscape.

This situation is linked, on the one hand, to the nature of the Committee—which is at the same time an employee representation body and a risk prevention body working in coordination with the company’s other departments—and, on the other, to the scope of its intervention. Its actions and their efficiency are directly related to the CHSW’s ability to discuss different and sometimes opposing conceptions of working conditions, health, occupational risks, and the exercise of the representation mandate. The different conceptions of the various actors involved will influence the strategy and actions of the Committee.

Our research relies on two kinds of data. Those collected through interviews and participant observations of 27 CHSW in companies of various sizes and industrial sectors. Other data were collected by means of a questionnaire in more than 100 CHSW during training sessions and interventions in companies over a period of five years and through the consultation of minutes of meetings or briefing materials issued to members attending such meetings.

The aim of this paper is to show that, while the tensions running through the activity of the CHSW are, for a large part, inherently related to its characteristics, and are frequently the cause of conflicts, they are also a source of fruitful debate and constitute an area of creativity for the development of collective action. In addition to the CHSW in France, we are convinced that the conclusions of this research can be applied to any body responsible for risk prevention and the improvement of working conditions in companies across the world.

Keywords: working conditions, health at work, prevention, industrial relations, unions.