European iniative to make the working environment safer through more focused risk assessment
In a new Europe-wide information campaign launched in London on 25th June 2008, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work seeks to encourage employers to carry out risk assessments in an attempt to reduce the number of accident and occupational disease related deaths throughout Europe each year.
The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mr Vladimir Spidla explained the impetus behind the campaign. “Every occupational accident and disease is one too many. Even if they don’t result in fatalities, the consequences are unacceptable, both for the people concerned and for the economy. Every year, millions of workers in the EU are involved in accidents which force them to stay at home for at least three working days at an enormous cost to the economy. Risk assessment is the key to reducing these figures. But it can only be the first step – implementation must follow.” www.osha.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/reducing-work-related-accidents
The two-year campaign (2008-09) focuses especially on high risk sectors such as construction, healthcare and agriculture and on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. It promotes a five step approach to risk assessment:
1. Identify the hazards, such as chemicals, electricity, ladders etc, in the workplace and those at risk.
2. Evaluate the risks associated with those hazards.
3. Determine what measures should be taken to protect the safety and health of employees and others, having due regard to current legislation.
4. Put in place the preventative and protective measures.
5. Monitor and Review whether the measures in place are working or being implemented.
It also encompasses the idea that risk assessment is “inclusive” in that it is a process in which both employers and employees can participate together.
The campaign features two “European Weeks” for Safety and Health at Work (20th – 24th October 2008 and 19th – 25th October 2009) during which a series of events will be organised across Europe involving the health and safety authorities in each Member State. In the UK the Health and Safety Executive will be working in partnership with the TUC to provide training events on risk assessment for safety representatives. www.hse.gov.uk/campaigns/euroweek/index.htm
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