Occupational Risk Assessment in France: Understanding the DUERP

In France, the DUERP – or Document Unique d’Evaluation des Risques Professionnels (Single Document for Professional Risk Assessment) – is the main reference tool for preventing accidents in the workplace.

Just as is the case in the UK, assessing occupational risk involves identifying potential hazards to which employees are exposed, with a view to implementing the right preventive and protective measures.

The results of this assessment are then formalised in a DUERP, which is a compulsory document for every French company from the moment their first employee is recruited.

What information should the DUERP contain?

While there is no official template imposed by the French Labour Code for a DUERP, the following information must be included:

  • An inventory of risks identified in the company
  • A list of risk prevention and employee protection measures

To encourage vigilance, the specific risks identified in a DUERP will typically include:

  • Falling (from height and/or on the same level)
  • Desktop work
  • Working with machines and tools
  • Psychosocial, such as work overload, aggression, and internal/external workplace violence
  • Chemical
  • Illnesses

Employers may formalise their DUERP in a chosen medium that best suits their needs, i.e. as a digital or paper document.  The same medium must be used to record all elements of the DUERP.

What happens once occupational risks are identified?

Employers are not expected to manage occupational risk completely on their own.  Where appropriate and relevant, they should consider seeking assistance from the CSE, employer-designated workers involved in occupational risk protection and prevention activity, or their occupational health physician.

Companies with more than 300 employees may also consult the health, safety and working conditions committee (CSSCT) as part of an ongoing social dialogue.

Once completed, the DUERP must be made available to:

  • Employees
  • The occupational physician
  • The labour inspector
  • Agents of the prevention departments of social security organisations (such as the CPAM and CARSAT)

When should a DUERP be updated?

For companies with 11 employees or more, the DUERP must be updated at least once a year.

It must also be updated in the event of the following:

  • Any decision made to modify working conditions or that affects employee health and safety (such as the use of a new and hazardous chemical product).
  • Collection of additional information that is relevant to the assessment of risk in a work unit (such as the emergence of an occupational disease, or a formally declared pandemic like COVID-19).

The DUERP must be archived by the employer for a period of 40 years from the date each version was drawn up.

What happens if a DUERP is not created by the employer?

Failure to formalise the results of an occupational risk assessment in a DUERP is punishable by a fine of up to 7,500 euros, which is doubled in the event of a repeat offence.

In conclusion, workplace health and safety is taken extremely seriously in France, so employers are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with all relevant legislation. 

For further information and advice about occupational risk assessments, please get in touch to arrange a free initial consultation with our experienced team.

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