Safety Success is no Accident

As countries celebrate European Safety and Health at Work Week, the European Agency for Safety and Health is offering a variety of tools to help employers prevent workplace accidents.

This month, countries all across Europe are holding Safety and Health at Work weeks. The weeks are sponsored by the European Agency for Safety and Health, an arm of the European Union that is based in Bilbao, Spain.

The message and focus of the safety weeks varies each year. This year, the message the European Agency for Safety and Health hopes to send out is that "Success is no Accident."

Every year, about 5,500 people are killed in workplace incidents across the European Union. There are over 4.5 million incidents that result in more than three days absence from work, which adds up to around 146 million working days lost.

The majority of such incidents could be prevented by good management practice and by following the relevant European Directives, according to the agency. The problem is particularly acute in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

That''s why the agency is targeting accident prevention both in the European Week for Safety and Health at Work and in a major new funding initiative to reduce the risks and seriousness of work-related accidents in SMEs.

"Work-related accidents are still one of Europe''s most serious occupational safety and health issues," said Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, agency director. "Successful accident prevention requires action by both employers and workers."

European Week events will take the accident prevention message into workplaces of all sizes and sectors. The campaign is being supported by a comprehensive information pack in all 11 EU Community languages including fact sheets, leaflets and posters, and a multilingual Web site (http://osha.eu.int/ew2001). In addition, a European good practice awards program will recognize innovative practical solutions to preventing accidents at work and an accident prevention program is targeting the problem in Europe''s small and medium-sized enterprises.

As part of its efforts to prevent injuries, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has launched a new electronic gateway on the agency''s Web site at http://osha.eu.int that offers practical information on preventing work-related incidents.

"Access to practical information on how to organize such preventive action in a cost efficient way is crucial, especially in small and medium-size enterprises," said Konkolewsky. "With the launch of this on-line service, the agency is providing the information needed to cut accidents throughout Europe - the overall goal of this year''s European Week for Safety and Health at Work."

The new on-line service provides links to a wide range of practical information, in English and other languages, covering almost every employment sector from the chemical industry to catering, and from manufacturing to mining. It offers tips for employers on how to identify potential accident hazards, how to assess the risks that they pose and how to decide on what kinds of practical measures should be taken to eliminate these risks.

For additional information on how to prevent workplace incidents, visit the agency''s Accident Prevention links at http://europe.osha.eu.int/good_practice/risks/accident_prevention/.

by Sandy Smith

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