Τετάρτη, 23 Ιανουαρίου 2008

Investigating the organizational culture of Greek workplace: Assessing the knowledge of OH&S conditions

George TSOBANOGLOU , Paraskevi BATRA

(a) Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (ELINYAE), Liosion 143 & Thirsiou 6, 10443 Athens and Regional Science Department, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece, < odysseas@hellasnet.gr>

(b) Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (ELINYAE), Liosion 143 & Thirsiou 6, 10443 Athens, Greece, < pbatr@tee.gr>

_____

Abstract

This paper discusses the results of a pioneering study realized in 25 industries, members of the Greek Federation of Industrial Labor Unions (OVES) during 1998. The study was undertaken, under the European Union's, Directorate General V, Health Education Life Protection (HELP) Program, that is part of a wider scheme called SAFE, by the Greek Institute for Occupational Health & Safety (ELINYAE) Athens in association with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Helsinki. The main purpose of the study was to assess the level of worker's awareness of OH&S work conditions and the corresponding participation mode in place.

In a very subtle manner the participatory work-place programs in operation in those industrial work-sites were made clear allowing a number of important issues to emerge. This permitted, for the first time in such a comprehensive manner, the shedding of light on the actual status of labor standards in Greek industry, the worker's participatory regime and the corresponding organizational culture in place. The study constitutes a solid ground for registering key elements of the dominant organizational culture and corresponding participatory models in Greek industry. This paper is the first international discussion of the study and it is being written by two of the authors of the HELP-SAFE Report.

©CybErg 1999. All rights reserved

Keywords: knowledge of OH&S, atypical employment,

_____

1. Introduction

The EU support program "SAFE", that funds research activities for the promotion of Health & Safety of Workers, aided in the formation of a partnership between the Federation of Greek Industrial Workers Unions (OVES), the Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (ELINYAE) and the Finish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). This partnership worked in the execution of the "Health Education Life Protection - HELP" project, between December 1997 and December 1998.

This survey research, one of the first of its kind conducted in Greek industry, attempted to give a cartography of the industrial conditions in Greece, namely, assessing knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S). From this rather extensive survey, which included information for: the businesses, the responders, their views for OH&S, the role of safety engineer, the health officer, the Workers' Health & Safety Committee, the Union, the Business Administration, we will present evidence for:

1. the atypical employment conditions and the special categories of workers, i.e. foreign labour, apprentices, seasonal workers, part-timers, shift-workers and pregnant women,

2. workers' occupational status, level of education, age and duration of employment

3. workers' knowledge of health and safety.

2. Methods

The questionnaire was formulated by P. Batra, G. Tsobanoglou and C. Filandros and was distributed by members of the OVES Administration in 25 factories. There was a "dialogue-marketing" approach to the workers and visited all levels of production and distribution of the firms to be surveyed. Meetings took place with members of the Health & Safety Committee, the Safety Officer and the Health Officer (where ever such a committee was in place). In these meetings members of the OVES Confederation developed the goals of the "HELP" program and asked from those present to distribute the questionnaire. The questionnaire had two parts, one intended for the enterprises and another for the workers. The first part has been filled by representatives of the firm's administration and the second part by individual workers. The total number of firms that responded was 25 while some 253 workers completed it. Business ownership was about 76% Greek and 24% Multinational. In 10 factories in the Attica Region and the surrounding areas the authors participated in the study by personally conducting interviews and providing information sessions for the workers.

3. Results

3.1. Atypical Employment

3.1.1. Foreign workers

Over 15.79% of Greek businesses (3 out of 19) did not respond to the question whether they employ foreign workers. All the multinational firms on the contrary responded. In general over 76% of the sample did not employ foreign workers.

Table 1

Employment of Foreign Workers


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 2 10.53 14 73.68 3 15.79 19
Multinational 1 16.67 5 83.33 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 3 12.00 19 76.00 3 12.00 25


Graph 1. Employment of Foreign Workers

3.1.2. Apprentices

All Multinational firms responded, while many Greek did not. Half of the Multinationals have apprentices, while the other half do not. In Greek businesses 26.32% employ apprentices, while 10.53% did not respond. In total the 25 firms of the survey employ apprentices by 32%, i.e. 8 out of 25.

Table 2

Employment of Apprentices - Trainees


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 5 26.32 12 63.16 2 10.53 19
Multinational 3 50.00 3 50.00 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 8 32.00 15 60.00 2 8.00 25


Graph 2. Employment of Apprentices - Trainees

3.1.3. Seasonal Workers

All the Multinational firms responded. Half of them employed seasonal workers. Greek firms declared by 57.89% that they don't employ seasonal workers, while a 10.53% did not respond. However over 36% of all businesses stated that employ seasonal staff.

Table 3

Empoyment of Seasonal Workers


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 6 31.58 11 57.89 2 10.53 19
Multinational 3 50.00 3 50.00 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 9 36.00 14 56.00 2 8.00 25


Graph 3. Employment of Seasonal Workers

3.1.4. Part-Time Workers

Again, all the Multinational firms responded with half of them employ part-time staff. The Greek firms declared by 68.42% that they don't employ any part-timers. In total some 64% of businesses stated that don't employ part-time workers.

Table 4

Employment of Part-time Workers


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 3 15.79 13 68.42 3 15.79 19
Multinational 3 50.00 3 50.00 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 6 24.00 16 64.00 3 12.00 25


Graph 4. Employment of Part-time Workers

3.1.5. Shift-workers

The situation for shift-work is completely different. Over 2/3 of all companies have workers in shifts. The trend for the provision of information remains the same as before in the domestic and foreign firms. The domestic firms have always been more difficult in providing information than the multinationals.

Table 5

Empoyment of Shift-Workers


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 12 63.16 4 21.05 3 15.79 19
Multinational 4 66.67 2 33.33 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 16 64.00 6 24.00 3 12.00 25


Graph 5. Empoyment of Shift-Workers

3.1.6. Presence of Pregnant Women Workers

All the foreign companies responded to the question, while a 15.79% of the domestically owned did not respond. Over 83 % of the MNC's reported the conditions of their female workers while only the 31.58 % of the Greek businesses stated such a condition. In our sample almost half of business had pregnant women. It is possible in the Greek case that the condition of pregnancy might denote problems of tenure for women.

Table 6

Employment of Pregnant Women


Ownership YES NO No Response TOTAL
Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage Absolute Numbers Percentage
Greek 6 31.58 10 52.63 3 15.79 19
Multinational 5 83.33 1 16.67 0 0.00 6
TOTAL 11 44.00 11 44.00 3 12.00 25


Graph 6. Employment of Pregnant Women

3.2. Workers' occupational status, level of education, age and duration of employment

3.2.1. Work position

The grouping of the 253 respontends given by the workers (open-ended questions) gives us Table 7 and Graph 7. .Firstly we notice the small percentage of Safety and Occupational Medicine Officers in the questionnaire as respondents. Many Safety have parallel duties in the enterprises, while for Doctors this is not the case. Secondly such a response assures the quality of the results from the point of view of workers who do not have special information on OH&H due to their work-place. This denotes that information is somehow kept by those who profess it and is not disseminated to those in actual need.

Table 7

Work position in the firm

Work position Absolute Numbers Percentage
No response 66 26.1
Health Officer 1 0.4
Safety Officer 1 0.4
General Manager 2 0.8
Several specialties 183 72.3
TOTAL 253 100.0






Graph 7. Work position in the firm

3.2.2. Years in Work-Place.

The 40% of employees was found in the same work position for 10-20 years. This means that, while work experience is attained, occupational mobility is not in evidence. Over 20% of workers did not respond.

Table 8

Years in Work Place

Years Absolute Numbers Percentage
0-5 26 10.3
5-10 38 15.0
10-15 53 20.9
15-20 49 19.4
20-25 18 7.1
25-30 13 5.1
30-35 3 1.2
No response 53 20.9
TOTAL 253 100.0




Graph 8. Years in Work Place

3.2.3. Years in the Firm

The 43.1% of workers works in the same firm for 10-20 years. The 1/5 did not respond.

Table 9

Years in the Firm

Year Duration Absolute Numbers Percentage
0-5 23 9.1
5-10 35 13.8
10-15 50 19.8
15-20 59 23.3
20-25 20 7.9
25-30 10 4.0
30-35 4 1.6
35-40 1 0.4
No response 51 20.2
TOTAL 253 100.0


Graph 9. Years in the Firm

3.2.4. Educational Level

Half of employees have completed Secondary Education while another 30% only Primary Education. With the present educational demands, we can consider that the 80% of employees, who have responded to the questionnaire, have at best only basic education that is at present compulsory till the sixteenth age. Only the 9.1% has education after Lyceum, while 12.3% did not answer to the question.

Table 10

Educational Level

Educational Level Absolute Numbers Percentage
Elementary 76 30.0
High School 123 48.6
Technical College 17 6.7
University 6 2.4
No Response 31 12.3
TOTAL 253 100.0


Graph 10. Educational Level

3.2.5. An Ageing Workforce

Biggest percentages are appearing in the age bracket between 35-50 years, which when added constitute over 60% of the respondents. This denotes that the labor force is of a matute age. There is a small 9.5% percentage that did not indicate their age.

Table 11

Aging Workforce

Age Ranges Absolute Numbers Percentage
20-25 3 1.2
25-30 16 6.3
30-35 24 9.5
35-40 55 21.7
40-45 47 18.5
45-50 49 19.4
50-55 26 10.3
55-60 8 3.2
60-65 1 0.4
No Response 24 9.5
TOTAL 253 100


Graph 11. Aging Workforce

3.3. Workers' Knowledge of Safety and Health

3.3.1. Priority to OH&S conditions

The 28.1 % of the respondents seem to place OH&S as a third priority, with a 27.3% considering them as a second choice while a 25.7 % choose it as a top priority. About 7.5% did not respond at all.

Table 12

Priority to OH&S Conditions

Priority Absolute Numbers Percentage
1 65 25.7
2 69 27.3
3 71 28.1
4 16 6.2
5 10 4.0
6 3 1.2
No Response 19 7.5
TOTAL 253 100.0


Graph 12. Priority to OH&S Conditions

3.3.2. Type of dangers workers believe they face

Over 60% of respondents did not reply to this important question, while some 9.1% of workers considers that they are endangered due to traffic accidents in their work place, and another 5.9% fire related accidents seem to cause alarm to them. The large percentage of non-respondents appears to indicate an environment not conducive to expressing one's views in such important issues as health and safety at work.

Table 13

Type of dangers workers believe they face

Type of dangers Absolute Numbers Percentage
1. No Response 153 60.5
2. Traffic Accidents 23 9.1
3. Fire, Explosion 15 5.9
4. Other 11 4.3
5. According to job position 11 4.3
6. Lack of information 9 3.6
7. Physical & chemical dangers 8 3.2
8. Carelessness 7 2.8
9. Familiarization to dangers 3 1.2
10. Electrical dangers 3 1.2
11. Work pressure 3 1.2
12. Unclear procedures 2 0.8
13. Lack of safety measures 2 0.8
14. VDU 1 0.4
15. No compliance to safety rules 1 0.4
16. Machines 1 0.4
TOTAL 253 100.0


Graph 13. Type of dangers workers believe they face

3.3.3. Protective measures taken by the workers themselves

In this question some 465 responses were given due to the possibility of responding to more that one response. About 21.5% follow carefully safety instructions, 21.3% asks for information for the dangers in the work place and the measures for prevention. Over 20% are not considering production more important than security while 15.7 % uses the Personal Protective Equipment. It seems that workers try personally to do whatever they can, but a large percentage seems to consider job requirements more important than safety or to put in another way safety conditions seem rather dissociated from production conditions.

Table 14

Personal precautions

What precautions do you personally take to avoid your work dangers? Number of Replies Percentage
1. I follow Instructions Carefully 100 21.5
2. I ask information about the dangers and the Prevention Measures 99 21.3
3. I do not have Production in first priority versus Safety 96 20.6
4. I do Medical Examinations 77 16.6
5. I wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 73 15.7
6. Other 13 2.8
7. No Response 7 1.5
TOTAL 465 100.0


Graph 14. Personal Precautions

3.3.4. Protective measures taken by the company

Over 1/3 responded that their company provides personal protective equipment, 26.4% is being informed for the dangers and the means to handle them. Almost 23% wrote that they did not get any relative information on such issues, while an 11% indicated that they were trained in health and safety issues before starting work.

Table 15

Company's Protective Measures

What is the protective measures taken by the company? Number of Replies Percentage
1. They give me Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 112 33.1
2. They inform me about the dangers and the preventive measures 86 25.4
3. I don' t know, I am not informed 77 22.8
4. They trained me before I started working 37 10.9
5. No Response 10 4.7
6. Other 16 3.0
TOTAL 338 100.0


Graph 15. Company's Protective Measures



3.3.5. Work Impact on Workers' Health

The 31.2% of respondents considers that "every job represents an impediment upon health, but that the way it is", about 23.2% expresses the views that "they don't have any particular problems", over 15% that "examinations did not show any evidence of health problem" and only 1.1% said that "they have a medical problem and they think of changing their job". It is important to notice that almost a third of respondents accept that every job comes with its health hazards and it difficult to do anything.

Table 16

Work impact on workers' health

Do you believe that your health has been affected by your work? Number of Replies Percentage
1. I don't know what effect could be done 69 19.8
2. Each work affects our health, there is no other choice 109 31.2
3. I have not special indications 81 23.2
4. The medical check-up did not indicate any problem 53 15.2
5. I have a health problem and I think I must change my job 4 1.1
6. Other 24 6.9
7. No Response 9 2.6
TOTAL 349 100.0


Graph 16. Work's Impact on Workers' Health

3.3.6. Written OH&S instructions

In this question we gathered 269 responses. Over 47% of respondents said that no written instructions on safety were provided to workers while a 15.6% wrote that such instructions were general in character and not helpful in particular. Almost 6.7% wrote that such instructions are not applied for nobody complies with them. It seems that almost 70% of respondents found that such instructions are either absent, too general and nobody complies with them.

Table 17

Written OS&H instructions

What written OS&H instructions have you received? Number of Replies Percentage
1. I don't remember if I have received written instructions 127 47.2
2. They make work more difficult and delay production 4 1.5
3. Nobody complies with them 18 6.7
4. They are general in character and not helpful in particular 42 15.6
5. They are clear, comprehensive and I follow them 58 21.6
6. Other 3 1.1
7. No Response 17 6.3
TOTAL 269 100.0


Graph 17. Written OH&S instructions

4. Discussion and Conclusions

4.1. Atypical Employment

The survey shows that Greek owned firms are more reluctant to provide information on OH&S issues about their workforce when compared with Multinational firms.

The majority of firms in our sample are not using foreign labor. Over 1/3 of all business investigated are employing apprentices-trainees. In the Greek firms the rate was 26.32 % with some 10.53 % not responding. It is possible that the Greek firms are employing undocumented apprentices-trainees to avoid higher costs.

Similarly 1/3 employees are seasonal workers, while in the case of the MNC's the percentage is 50%. This certainly is an indication of a flexible work organization in their case. Regarding part-time employment it is evident that this aspect of flexibility is not very widespread among the Greek firms, 31%, while it is over 50% for foreign firms. The most interesting aspect of non-regular employment is shift-work, which occurs in over 2/3 of all companies.

4.2. Workers' occupational status level of education, age and duration of employment

The surveyed work force was found to be some 40% in the same work position for over 10-20 years. Over 43% appeared to be in the same firm for 10-20 years. Almost 1/5 did not respond to this question. The surveyed work force appeared to be of rather low educational status with almost 80% below the basic education level requirements. This work force is an ageing work force, 60% found in the 35-50 age brackets.

4.3. Workers' Knowledge of Safety and Health

About 25.7% of respondents registered as their top priority OH&S issues with a 27.3% as their second choice with a further 28.1% as their third. All in all it appears that over 80% ranked as the three most important choices OH&S issues.

Over 60% of workers did not respond to the question on the type of dangers at work that they face, they have not received written instructions (47.2%) and they consider each workplace as having its inevitable affects on health by 31.2%. Almost 70% of respondents found no sound information or infrastructure for OH&S in their firms.

It is apparent from the above presentation that Health and Safety in Greek industry is not well developed. It seems that a system for health risk assessment is not widespread, this having led to a lack of criteria for controlling and monitoring the working environment.

While advanced European Union legislation appears to have been incorporated into national Greek legislation, implementation appears very weak, leaving largely unaffected OH&S conditions in Greek industry. Organizationally it appears that OH&S labour costs are not an integral part of the work process in comparison to advanced E.U. member states. This is largely due to the following:

* incapacity of all agents involved in estimating the risks and calculating costs

* the inexperienced, low level educated, unskilled and safety conscious manpower

* the limited infrastructure for OH&S as evidenced from the responses from the workers themselves

* weak level of horizontal labor organization

* generally the focus seems to be at best on coping with accidents as they arise rather than in preventing them

* a policy of persuasion presupposes that workers are well informed about workplace risks and their rights under the law. It is doubtful that there are grounds for such a condition in our case.

Fundamental improvements in health and safety cannot be achieved unless labour becomes empowered to speak dynamically acquiring knowledge and expertise.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (ELINYAE), the President of the Federation of Industrial Trade Unions (OVES) and Dr. Kevork, I., Statistitian, for helping us to carry out this survey.

Source: "Investigating the awareness and knowledge of workers, members of OVES, in matters of Health and Safety at Work", Final Report of the HELP-SAFE Program, December, Athens, 1998 (in Greek).

References

Alexander, A., Greek Industrialists, Research Monograph Series, Center for Planning and Economic Research, Athens, 1984.

Center for Planning and Economic Research, Workers'Safety in Industry, Athens, 1987.

Fakiolas, R., Labour Unionism in Greece, Papazissis Publ., Athens, 1978

Jecchinis, C., The Role of trade Unions in the Social Development of Greece, in E.Kassalow-Danachi, U. (ED.), The role of Trade Unions in Developing Societies, ILO, Geneva, 1978.

Jecchinis, C., 1970-87 The Labor Trade Union Movement in Greece, Galeos Publ. Athens, 1983.

Katsanevas, T., Trade Unions in Greece, National Center of Social Research, Athens, 1984.

Koukoules, G., Greek Trade Unions: Financial Independence and Dependence 1938- 1984, Odysseas, Athens, 1984.

Rilmon-Linardos, P., "Problems in application of the Health and Safety Law", Financial Post, 1660,27.2.1986.

Sarafopoulos, N., Worker's Accidents and Occupational Illnesses, Data Sources Greece, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Loughlinstown House, Shankill, Co. Dublin, Ireland, 1986.

Tsobanoglou, G., (with Jecchinis, C.,),"The Socio-economic impact of deregulation and Other related policies", IREC Conference, LEST-CNRS, Aix-en Province, France, 2022 May, 1999.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια: