International Safety: European Organizations Work to Promote Safe Workplaces

Nine pan-European and multinational organizations have signed up to be part of the first wave of official partners of Healthy Workplaces, a campaign organized by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) that focuses on the evaluation of health and safety risks and aims at reducing work-related accidents and illnesses.

Among the participating organizations are European employers’ and workers’ federations, multinational companies from various industry sectors, research platforms and NGOs. By signing up as official partners, these organizations promote risk assessment as the first essential step for good workplace safety and health management.

“We are very proud that so many renowned organizations decided to help us raise awareness on this important topic,” said Jukka Takala, director of EU-OSHA. “Risk assessment is the key to preventing accidents and ill health at work. It is a legal obligation throughout Europe, but there are still companies that do not assess their risks regularly. This is reflected in figures of accidents and diseases at work which show that improvements are still needed, especially in SMEs.”

Risk Assessment

The Healthy Workplaces campaign on risk assessment runs over two years (2008-2009) and is backed by the EU Presidencies, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European social partners. With the help of its network of national focal points in the 27 EU member states and accession countries, EU-OSHA organizes hundreds of events and activities throughout the campaign.

The man campaign objectives include:

  • Raising awareness of the legal responsibility and the importance and practical need to assess risks in the workplace.
  • Demystifying the process and show, especially to small and medium enterprises, that risk assessment is not necessarily complicated, bureaucratic, or a task only for experts
  • Promoting a five-step approach to risk assessment.
  • Promoting the involvement of everyone in the workplace.
  • Promoting good practices which are transferable and help make the process easier.

“Performing serious and continuous risk assessment is the only way to make the workplace safer,” said Henk Vanhoutte, secretary general of the European Safety Federation. “It is the basis for any OHS management and action plan in general and for correct selection and use of PPE in particular. This is common sense, not just a legal obligation.”

“Only the Start”

The official partners promote the Healthy Workplaces campaign through their information channels, disseminate campaign material to their networks and organize their own activities such as conferences, workshops, training sessions, media events and poster competitions.

“Partnerships with these nine organizations allow us to further increase the impact of our Healthy Workplaces campaign, already now one of the world’s largest information campaigns on occupational safety and health,” Takala added. “And this is only the start since we are in touch with many more organizations that will join soon.”

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