Occupational health and safety is a consistently challenging issue for businesses, utilities and other organisations in the countries where the Bank invests. It is a key due diligence and monitoring consideration for almost all projects that are financed by us, regardless of sector or size. We have robust processes that hold Bank-financed projects to high standards of occupational health and safety.
Nevertheless, accidents can unfortunately occur. We were notified of serious incidents by 27 clients in 2013, which sadly resulted in 102 fatalities. More than half of these fatalities occurred in four countries – Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Turkey – where we have a large number of heavy industry and infrastructure projects. Although these statistics must be seen in the context of a portfolio consisting of more than 1,500 projects that collectively involve tens of thousands of employees and contractors, and many millions of customers and end users, they are clearly tragic events. We are committed to working with our clients to promote good practice in the projects we finance and to minimise the health and safety risks for all employees and local communities.
When we become aware of serious health and safety incidents connected to EBRD-financed projects, we seek to ensure that the organisations involved take prompt and effective action and that they subsequently attempt to understand what lessons can be learned. Our monitoring of occupational health and safety incidents indicates some common risks and contributory factors. Many incidents arise from occupational road safety, construction work, working at height, working in enclosed spaces or electrical safety. These topics will be a focus of our health and safety work in 2014. In addition to project appraisal and monitoring, we will aim to develop the capacity of clients and regulators through the use of donor-funded TC assignments.
Our experts carried out site visits to 10 projects in 2013 where occupational health and safety had been identified as a priority for monitoring. We also introduced a safety alert initiative during the year to raise awareness and disseminate information to our clients.
In addition, during the year we hosted two important events at our London headquarters. In February, we hosted the International Roundtable of the UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), attended by practitioners and stakeholders from around the world. In November, we welcomed 30 representatives of non-governmental organisations in the road safety sector to an Occupational Road Risk Training Academy event organised by the Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport (EASST) and Cranfield University.
Occupational health and safety is a permanent priority in the continuous improvement of our policies, resources and practices for environmental and social assurance, and is an important part of the Environmental and Social Policy review that will be completed in 2014. We are developing an improved approach to risk rating on occupational health and safety in order to focus due diligence, monitoring and technical cooperation on preventative measures, targeting projects in which we can have the most significant impact on improving management practices and reducing incident rates. Partnerships and international cooperation have an important role to play and in 2014 we will host the first-ever MDB Working Group on Occupational Health and Safety.