Earlier this year in May, the French Labor Code was amended by a decree that provides for conditions and procedures compliance for pre-asbestos tracking. The decree immediately came into force with the latest implementation by October 1st, 2018. The amendment specifies for the collective and individual protections of workers and the concerned public from asbestos exposure. The decree states that prior to the start of a construction or maintenance project, the activity site including all installations, structures, and equipment that will be used should all be checked for the presence of asbestos. Certainly, the procedures to carry out the provisions of this new decree will surely affect and change the transportation and infrastructure sectors most especially construction.
Decree №2017–899 of 9 May 2017 on the Identification of Asbestos Before Certain Operations
In the mid-70s, asbestos was widely used but was later observed to have caused a number of severe diseases. Its use was later on gradually restricted and ultimately banned. Following the complete ban of asbestos in France in 1996, the “low” estimate of 1,950 asbestos-related deaths that year hasn’t really improved much over the past decade. This ban has been confirmed at the European level by Directive 99/77/EC, which prohibits any extraction, manufacture, or processing of asbestos fibers after January 1st, 2005. Because asbestos-related diseases (lung cancer and mesothelioma) are progressive and may only manifest after a latency period of 20–40 years, it would take a long time to see the effects of the ban. After the ban, asbestos-related litigation just surged and now represents a billion dollar issue. The new decree aims to regulate these litigation resurgence by covering all other intersecting grounds like the Code of Construction and Housing, the Public Health Code, and the Consumer Code.
Amendments and Provisions to Note
Here is the complete text of the decree and its amendments from the Legifrance website.
The Labor Code is thus amended:
(1) Article R. 4412–97 is replaced by the following provisions:
Art. R. 4412–97. -I.- The principal, the developer or the owner of immovables by nature or by destination, of equipment, materials or articles which decides on an operation involving Of the exposure hazards of workers to asbestos causes the search for asbestos referred to in Article L. 4412–2 to be carried out under the conditions laid down in this paragraph.
Such risks, as assessed by the person referred to in the preceding paragraph, may arise in particular as a result of the operation of immovables, equipment, materials or articles constructed or manufactured before the entry into force of the provisions of Decree №96 -1133 of 24 December 1996 on the prohibition of asbestos, made under the Labor Code and the Consumer Code or to which the prohibition under this decree is not applicable.
-II.-The search for asbestos is ensured by a preliminary identification of the operation, adapted to its nature, its perimeter and the level of risk it presents.
The conditions under which the tracing mission is carried out, in particular as regards its technical modalities and the methods of analysis of the materials likely to contain asbestos, are specified by order of the Minister of Labor and each of them The Minister for Health, Construction, Transport and the Sea, for the following fields of activity:
(2) Other buildings such as land, civil engineering works and transport infrastructure;
(3) Railway rolling stock and other rolling stock;
(4) Ships, boats and other floating apparatus;
(6) Installations, structures or equipment contributing to the realization or the implementation of an activity.
-III.-The decrees referred to in II specify the conditions under which the available traceability and mapping documents or asbestos searches carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations or on the initiative of those concerned are regarded as satisfying the obligation to tracking.
-IV.-Once a survey has been carried out under the conditions laid down in this Article, Transactions carried out subsequently in the same perimeter do not give rise to a new location, except where circumstances which have arisen after that date reveal the necessity or where the rules which came into force after its creation so require. “;
(2) After article R. 4412–97, six articles shall be inserted as follows:
Art. R. 4412–97–1.-The tracking operator shall have the qualifications and means necessary for the performance of this task, specified for each area of activity, by the orders referred to in II of Article R. 4412- 97. He shall carry out his duties in full independence and shall not be liable to interfere with his impartiality, in particular with a natural or legal person involved in the same work.
Art. R. 4412–97–2.-The persons mentioned in the first paragraph of I of article R. 4412–97 shall communicate to the operators in charge of the identification any information in their possession useful for its realization. They shall respect their independence and impartiality in the exercise of their task of identification, including in the case of their employees.
Art. R. 4412–97–3. -I- When, for any of the following reasons, the person mentioned in the first paragraph of I of Article R. 4412–97 finds that the identification can not be implemented, The safety of workers shall be ensured under the conditions laid down in II of this Article:
(1) In the event of an emergency related to a disaster posing a serious risk to public safety or public health or to the protection of the environment;
(2) In the event of an emergency related to a disaster involving serious risks to persons and property to which it can not be repaired within a period compatible with those required for the realization of the location;
(3) Where the tracking operator considers that it is of a nature, Expose him to an excessive risk to his safety or health as a result of the technical conditions or the circumstances in which he should be carried out;
(4) Where the operation is intended to repair or maintain corrective maintenance and is covered by both the interventions referred to in 2 ° of Article R. 4412–94 and the first level of dusting referred to in paragraph Article R. 4412–98.
-II.-In the cases referred to in I, the individual and collective protection of workers shall be ensured by measures provided for each area of activity by the decrees referred to in II of Article R. 4412–97 as if the presence of Asbestos was proven. These measures are defined by the company called upon to carry out the operation, depending, on the one hand, on the level of risk,
Art. R. 4412–97–4.-Where the identification can not be separated from the commitment of the operation itself for technical reasons communicated by the locating operator to the person mentioned in the first paragraph of I of the above- In accordance with Article R. 4412–97, it shall carry out the identification as the operation progresses under conditions specified for each area of activity by the orders mentioned in II of the same Article. Where it appears in the course of the operation that it falls under part or all of one of the cases referred to in I of Article R. 4412–97–3, the measures provided for in II this article.
Art. R. 4412–97–5.-The report tracing the finding concludes either the absence or the presence of materials or products containing asbestos and, in the latter case, specifies their nature, location and Estimated quantity. The content of this report is defined for each area of activity by the orders mentioned in II of Article R. 4412–97. The technical files referred to in Articles R. 1334–29–4 to R. 1334–29–6 of the Public Health Code and Article R. 111–45 of the Construction and Housing Code are appended Where appropriate.
Art. R. 4412–97–6.-The tracking report complements the traceability and mapping documents for furniture and buildings within its perimeter. The person mentioned in the first paragraph of I of article R. 4412–97 on whose behalf the report was drawn up or, where applicable, the owner of the piece of furniture or the immovable when this report was handed to him, Shall make it available to any new principal or contracting authority in connection with subsequent operations relating to that perimeter. “;
(3) In Rule 4412–197 (14) and Rule 4412–197 (3), the words “R 4412–97” are replaced by the words “ Articles R. 1334–29–4 to R. 1334–29–6 of the Public Health Code and Article R. 111–45 of the Building and Housing Code or, where applicable, the report Asbestos tracking system provided for in Article R. 4412–97–5 of this Code “;
(4) In the first sentence of the second paragraph of Article R. 4511–8, Article R 4512–11 and the first paragraph of Article R. 4532–7, the words “in Article R . 4412–97 of the labor code “are replaced by the words” in Articles R. 1334–29–4 R. 1334–29–6 of the code of public health and the Article R. 111–45 of the Building and Housing Code or, where applicable, the asbestos tracking report provided for in Article R. 4412–97–5 of this Code”;
(5) In Article R. 4532–95, after the words “public health code” are inserted the words “or, where applicable, the asbestos identification report provided for in Article R. 4412 -97–5 of this Code “;
(6) In Articles R. 8115–9 and R. 8115–10, the reference: “L. 4753–2” is replaced by the reference: “L. 4754–1”. “Public health code” shall be inserted the words “or, where applicable, the asbestos identification report provided for in Article R. 4412–97–5 of this Code”; 6. In Articles R. 8115–9 and R. 8115–10, the reference: “L. 4753–2” is replaced by the reference: “L. 4754–1”. “Public health code” shall be inserted the words “or, where applicable, the asbestos identification report provided for in Article R. 4412–97–5 of this Code”; 6. In Articles R. 8115–9 and R. 8115–10, the reference: “L. 4753–2” is replaced by the reference: “L. 4754–1”.
The provisions of this decree shall come into force for each of the areas mentioned in Article R. 4412–97 as drafted by this decree on the dates fixed by the decrees mentioned in this article and at the latest by 1 October 2018.
The operations For which the transmission of the request for a quotation or the publication of the tender dossier relating to the contract is prior to the date fixed by those orders remain governed by the provisions of Article R. 4412–97 of the Labor Code , as drafted Prior to this decree.
The Minister for the Environment, Energy and the Sea, responsible for international climate relations, the Minister for Social Affairs and Health, the Minister for Labor, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue and the Minister for Housing and Sustainable Housing are each responsible for the implementation of this decree, which will be published in the Official Journal of the French Republic.
A related article discusses France’s legislation involving fire prevention in construction projects. A more generic view of the common hazards and dangers in the construction industry workplace is also examined in a separate article. Mitigating risks effectively is a huge part of improving overall construction productivity; you can read all about it by downloading the free ebook.