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    1/52A EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN ON RISK ASSESSMENT | http://hw.osha.europa.eu



    ://.r. M a g a z i n e o f t h e E u r o p e a n A g e n c y f o r S a f e t y a n d H e a l t h a t W o r k



  • 8/2/2019 Eval Riscuri



    A great deal o additional inormation on the European Union is available on the Internet.It can be accessed through the Europa server (http://europa.eu).

    Luxembourg: O ce or O cial Publications o the European Communities, 2008

    ISSN 1608-4144

    European Agency or Saety and Health at Work, 2008Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

    Printed in Belgium


    Europe Direct is a service to help you nd answersto your questions about the European Union

    Freephone number (*):00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11

    (*) Certain mobile telephone operators do not allow accessto 00 800 numbers or these calls may be billed.

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    JuKKa taKaLaDirector, European Agency or Saety and Health at Work

    F o r e w o r d

    Since the adoption o the European ramework directive in 1989, risk assessment has become aamiliar concept or organising prevention in the workplace and hundreds o thousands o

    companies all over Europe assess their risks regularly. Nevertheless, the gures on accidents and illnessat work show that improvements are needed.

    Everybody has an interest in keeping workers sae and healthy. And most work-related accidents andillnesses are preventable. But how? Risk assessment is the rst step, because it provides an understanding othe actions that need to be taken to protect the health and saety o workers. Systematic risk assessmentthereore improves workplace saety and health and business perormance in general.

    The data gathered at Member State level show that risk assessment is not universally carried out. A signicantnumber o companies, mainly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), still do not assess their risks. It is or thisreason that SMEs are the primary target audience o this Healthy Workplace campaign on risk assessment.

    To help companies in general and SMEs in particular to assess their risks, initiatives have been taken todevelop simple tools to acilitate risk assessment or increase awareness about the importance o managingrisks. This Magazine shows such initiatives taken mainly at Member State level. The contributions come romacross Europe and describe the eorts o a broad spectrum o individuals and groups, includinggovernment ministries, employers organisations and trade unionists, to improve the management o risks inthe workplace.

    To support the European campaign on risk assessment, the Agency is making available a wide range o

    material or all those tr ying to make Europes workplaces saer and healthier whether worker, employer,OSH proessional or policy-maker. This inormation, in all o cial languages o the EU, is provided ree ocharge by the Agency via its website at http://hw.osha.europa.eu.

    This Magazine is part o these resources. It brings together articles to give a wideperspective on the theme o risk assessment. It is hoped that these articles willprovide an interesting picture o the scope o the topic and an update oinitiatives taken to acilitate the task o assessing and managing risks inorder to promote healthy workplaces.

    Jukka TakalaDirector, European Agency or Saety andHealth at Work

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    AEUROPEANCAMPAIGNON RISK ASSESSMENT | http://hw.osha.europa.eu



    http://osha.europa.eu [ M a g a z i n e o f t h e E u r o p e a n A g e n c y f o r S a f e t y a n d H e a l t h a t W o r k ]





    C o n t e n t sPAGE 3Risk assessment in small and medium-sized enteRpRises (sme): ueapme s point o view

    Kris Baetens, EuropEan associationof craft, smalland mEdium-sizEd EntErprisEs (uEapmE), BrussEls, BElgium

    PAGE 6

    woRkeRs and saety RepResentatives paRticipation: the key to success in Risk assessmentLaurent Vogel, HEaltHand safEty dEpartmEntoftHE EuropEan tradE union institutE rEsEarcH, Education, HEaltHandsafEty (Etui-rEHs), BrussEls, BElgium

    PAGE 9

    digital Risk inventoRy and evaluation (Rie): a dutch appRoach oeRing valuable suppoRt oR smallbusiness owneRsJan Michiel Meeuwsen, tno Qualityof lifE, Hoofddorp, tHE nEtHErlands

    PAGE 12

    challenges in getting sme to dRaw up a Risk assessmentElisabeth la Cour, danisH Working EnvironmEnt autHority (dWEa), dEnmark

    PAGE 14

    even micRo-businesses can do Risk assessments.A joint action by the Berlin and Brandenburg health and safety authorities and employers liability insurance

    associationsRal Grneberg, BrandEnBurg autHorityfor occupational safEtyand HEaltH

    PAGE 16

    demystiying Risk assessment keeping it simple, concentRating on action!Health and Saety Executive (HSE), UK

    PAGE 18

    an it application oR identiying and assessing Risks in smeNational Institute o Occupational Saety and Hygiene (INSH), Spain

    PAGE 20

    an austRian booklet on Risk pReventionJulia Lischka, dEpartmEntforoccupationalsafEtyandHEaltHoftHE fEdEral cHamBErof laBour, austria

    PAGE 23

    a slovenian Risk assessment methodMarija Molan and Rajko rnivec, univErsity mEdical cEntrE institutEof occupational, trafficand sports mEdicinEljuBljana, slovEnia

    PAGE 26

    developing woRkplace Risk assessment in inlandHelena Kalliolinna and Hannu Aln, ministryof social affairsand HEaltH, dEpartmEntof occupational safEtyandHEaltH, finland

    PAGE 29

    the hazaRds poRtolio as a tool in the Risk management pRocessRuedi Hauser, sWiss accidEnt insurancE fund (suva), sWitzErland

    PAGE 34

    manual handling o hospital patients: an italian Risk assessment methodAdriano Papale and Francesca Grosso, national institutEfor occupational safEtyand prEvEntion (ispEsl),dEpartmEntof organisation procEssEs, italy

    PAGE 38

    pRoposed assessment method oR companies handling below-the-thReshold quantities ohazaRdous substancesZuzana Juskov, dEpartmEntof product safEtyand Quality, facultyof mEcHanical EnginEEring, tu koicE, slovakia

    PAGE 42

    stRess psychology health: the staRt pRocess oR assessing the Risk posed by woRk-Related stRessDaniela Marino and Tomas Langhof, prospEktiv gmBH, dortmund, gErmany

    PAGE 46

    napo in: Risky businessPeter Rimmer, projEct managEr, tHE napo consortium, EuropE

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    Inormal social dialogue

    In most SMEs, social dialogue is conducted in a very inormal way. In

    most o them there are no ormal consultation bodies or procedures.The social dialogue in SMEs is a continuous, inormal interactionbetween employer and employees and also among employees.Many SMEs dont have, and dont need, ormal consultation bodiesor procedures to identiy problems or pinpoint risks. The problemand the solution will be discussed on the shop foor.

    Employer works with employees

    An enormous advantage or most SMEs is the act that the employerworks alongside the employees. This means they can see the risks inthe workplace and operations rst hand and will be more likely totake measures to reduce or eliminate risk. These measures can

    include important innovative changes or simply small changes withgreat eectiveness or the saety o workers and employer. With thiskind o operation, risk assessment is a continuous, inormal process.


    Flexibility is key or SMEs. Employer and employees are otenrequired to multi-task in a constantly changing environment. Theyare highly adaptable. This also means that workers have a goodknowledge o how their company works, and most o the workplacerisks. This fexibility among sta will aect the way the riskassessment is carried out.

    Fast decision-making process

    Another advantage o SMEs is the ast decision-making process. In alarger company when one wants to introduce changes, it is usuallynecessary to consult several hierarchies o managers. In an SME witha fat hierarchy, the employee can go directly to the right person andmake a proposal. This saves both time and energy.

    Familiar atmosphere

    Employees are working or the company but are also ready to bemutually supportive and to help each other i necessary. Thewillingness to support colleagues creates a very special atmospherein the company between workers and between employer andemployees. This makes it easier or employees to correct one anotherand to educate one other on risk assessment.


    The health and saety policy in a SME demands a diferentapproach rom that o a big company. There are many

    diferences between SMEs and their larger counterparts, and thismust be taken into account when assessing risks in SMEs.

    This article ocuses on three main issues.

    Firstly, the characteristics o SMEs. These characteristics infuence theway SMEs manage risks in the workplace and how they carry outtheir risk assessment.

    Secondly, the impact o current economic changes and the prioritieso UEAPME in this specic context. Changes create new challengesor SMEs and hence new challenges or risk assessment. Riskassessment requires know-how and expertise. SMEs dont alwayshave these competencies within their own company. Many SMEshave to seek external tools and partners to help develop the healthand saety policy o the company in general, and risk assessment inparticular.

    Thirdly, the labour inspection services oer excellent guidelines andtools or SMEs. UEAPME considers the labour inspectorate to be animportant external partner in helping SMEs with risk assessment, andaims or a situation where there are less sanctions but more supportrom the labour inspectorate. When sanctions are applied, theyshould be aimed at those companies which, ater having beenwarned, still neglect health and saety or reuse to carry out a riskassessment.

    s rr sme

    The way SMEs approach the topic o risk assessment is strongly

    infuenced by the structure and strengths o the particular

    SME, but there are some characteristics that are applicable to

    most i not all SMEs, as ollows:

    Kris BaetensEuropean Association o Crat, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME), Brussels, Belgium

    R i s k a s s e s s m e n t i n s m a l l a n dm e d i u m - s i z e d e n t e r p r i s e s ( S M E s ) :

    U E A P M E s p o i n t o f v i e w

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    t rr ueapme

    SMEs need practical and efective instruments

    The existing legislative ramework or risk assessment at Europeanlevel is adequate. The ocus should now be on the implementationo this legislation at national, regional, local and company level. In thenew Member States in particular, nancial support rom thestructural unds could contribute to aster and betterimplementation as well as the application o the acquiscommunautaire in the workplace.

    In the eld o health and saety, the Commissions approach o Thinksmall rst should guide all its uture activities, taking into accountthat 99% o all companies in Europe are SMEs, and 92% o these aremicro-enterprises. Thereore, beore revising existing legislation ortaking any new initiatives, an in-depth impact assessment should becarried out, especially concerning very small companies.

    As some o the new risks, such as musculoskeletal disordersoriginate also rom outside the workplace, a legislative approach isnot the appropriate way to solve the problem. In this case, moreinitiatives should be developed to raise awareness and prevention. Inaddition companies should not be automatically held responsible oreverything that goes wrong, which very oten gives a negativeimage o entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

    More emphasis should be placed on guidance. The authorities atEuropean level should produce more guidelines aimed at givingpractical support to companies, in particular SMEs (e.g. opticalradiation guidelines are essential or the correct implementation o

    the new directive).

    Strengthening the culture o prevention

    All parties should work towards a culture o prevention. This must bebased on a partnership between all the players involved and mustbe accompanied by substantial eorts in inormation provision andtraining and in enhancing awareness.

    The Bilbao Agency should come up with a programme or theprevention o health and saety risks in SMEs in particular, as wasdone in the past. The Bilbao Agency should also continue itsimportant work in the exchange o good practice between Member

    States and social partners.

    The need or a partnership

    The Health and Saety policy, the risk assessment and prevention ingeneral have to be based on a strong partnership between allplayers involved. There is no need or new institutions, but rather orbetter networking and cooperation between the relevant actors,and between sectors at all levels. We have to bundle the dierentorces towards strong collaboration, with only one target: a betterRisk Assessment in SMEs, a better health and saety environment oremployer and employees.

    UEAPME also considers the labour inspection services in the variousMember States to be a very important external player or the SME.SMEs need the support o labour inspectors to better comply withlegislation, primarily through education, persuasion and

    Easy communication

    The traditional inormal communication and the direct and personalrelationships at all levels o an SME acilitate rapid adaptation ochange and a better anticipation o risks. These positive elements

    create a sound basis or carrying out a risk assessment which isadapted to the needs o the company.

    On the other hand, o course, SMEs also have some

    shortcomings when it comes to risk assessment. The classic

    problems that need to be tackled in SMEs include:

    Low degree o delegation

    The employer is responsible or all the various tasks rom humanresources management to accounting and the production process.The company Health and Saety policy is just one among manyresponsibilities. While the employer remains responsible or every

    aspect o the companys activity, they denitely need to besupported by other employees in the risk assessment area.

    Lack o long-term strategic vision

    Another shortcoming in SMEs is that they tend to lack strategicvision. Problems tend to be solved as and when they occur. They arenot dealt with in advance. Because o this outlook, it is dicult toteach employers how to be proactive about Health and Saety andrisk assessment. In some cases, employers only take action ater anaccident. It is never too late to set up a risk assessment, but it shouldbe done proactively.

    Less ormal risk assessment

    Employers in SMEs tend to carry out the assessment and anypreventive measures in practice on the shop foor, without ormaldocumentation. Each time they have to start rom scratch oncemore. A more ormal risk assessment using specic practical toolswould be much more productive or them in the long term. ManySMEs need improvement in this regard.

    e ,

    Changes in the economy infuence the work o SMEs, and thereore

    risk assessment. These include:

    n a more complex society (globalisation, structural change, rapidtechnological development, etc.)

    n more complex business operationsn shorter liespan o technologiesn customer-oriented productionn need or company networksn new products and operationsn new technologies / innovationn increase in outsourcing.

    Policy makers and inspection services have to take these strengthsand shortcomings into account when dealing and cooperating withSMEs in the eld o saety and health. The real challenge or SMEs isthe correct and eective application o all the existing legislationacross the Member States. The labour inspection services have to actas partners to SMEs to achieve those objectives.

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    workorce. Nevertheless, too many legislative obligations combinedwith ill-conceived orms and documents or small businesses to ll indo not help SMEs carry out their obligations. Thereore, UEAPME isurgently calling or less and better legislation, and or strong supportthrough a variety o tools that acilitate the understanding olegislation by small employers and thereore its better application inthe workplace.

    Last but not least, a strong partnership between SMEs and thelabour inspection services is indispensable. The labour inspectorateshould provide more help or SMEs in developing the health andsaety policy o the company in general, and risk assessment inparticular. This is the key message o UEAPME.

    Kris Baetens is a legal counsellor

    who is specialised in health and

    saety matters. He is based at the

    research department o UNIZO, the

    Union o Sel-employed

    Entrepreneurs in Belgium. He is

    engaged in inter-proessional social

    dialogue and is an active member

    o the National Labour Council and

    the High Council o Health and

    Saety at Work in Belgium. He is

    also on the negotiation team o

    UEAPME, the European Organisation or SMEs.

    encouragement; then, where necessary, through coercive measures.A correct and eective implementation o legislation is veryimportant, rom a social as well as an economic perspective.

    t r r r: r

    UEAPME misses a global overview o the state o play oimplementation o health and saety legislation. This overview isnecessary on European level, and also at the national and regionallevels. Additionally there are also some structural needs. UEAPMEexpects a labour inspectorate to be a modern, up-to-date andproessional authority. It has to be run by highly proessional stamembers.

    Today there are many dierences in the way Member States andregional authorities carry out their duties in this regard. The

    reporting is dierent; the use o prosecution is dierent. It is highlydesirable to work towards a more homogenous approach acrosscountries and rom region to region within countries.

    Stronger coordination is necessary. The establishment o amanagement system ensuring that the same policy, strategy andpriorities are implemented would be par ticularly welcome.


    Risk assessment in the workplace is a central issue or all employers.SMEs are well aware o the importance o the topic or their

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    Since the 1989 Framework Directive, risk assessment hasbecome a amiliar concept or organising prevention in the

    workplace. Hundreds o thousands o companies conduct thisexercise every year, but the results are still unsatisactory. TheInternational Labour Organisation estimates that there are morethan 160,000 work-related deaths every year in the 27 EU MemberStates. Ten thousand o these, a teenth o the total, involve ataloccupational accidents. Work-related cancer is a major cause odeath.

    Such a critical observation does not call into question theimportance o risk assessment. On the contrary, it is the key toprevention policy. Prevention means anticipating and analysing thevarious aspects o work to identiy short and long-term risks. Withouta systematic assessment o the risks involved, it would only bepossible to apply a reactive, ater-the-event policy to correctparticular aspects o the organisation o work.

    The problem is certainly not that too much time is spent on

    assessing risks; rather, it is in the way risks are assessed and how thisactivity is integrated into an all-embracing prevention policy.

    Surveys conducted in dierent countries show that all too otenemployers consider risk assessment to be a mere administrativeormality to be armed out to external consultants (usually externalprevention services). There are a number o drawbacks to thisapproach. The assessment does not put the company in control oanalysing the problems internally. It is not suciently linked toimplementing prevention plans to eliminate risks. All too oten it isno more than a ormal exercise limited to traditional and visible risks.It requently ails to address the problems posed by the organisationo work, its intensity, the problems linked to working hours, or theprecarious nature o the job.

    The most worrying aspect o this situation is that workers reps arehardly involved in the assessment process. One survey organisedrecently in Belgium by ETUI-REHS in collaboration with the Free

    University o Brussels indicated that the prevailing conception o riskassessment is not based on the participation o workers reps. 65.9%o respondents reported that a risk assessment procedure had beencarried out in their workplace. In 65% o cases, the workers reps hadsimply rubber-stamped the document, or had only been asked ortheir opinion on the nal document. Only 22.3% o union repsreported having been involved in choosing risk assessmentprocedures; 16.9% said they had been consulted while the study wasgoing on, and 15.9% said that they had a hand in the study throughworking groups.

    In the UK, a survey conducted among saety reps showed that ewerthan 30% o them are satised with their involvement in riskassessment. 44% are not involved at all and 27% are insucientlyinvolved.

    On the other hand, in companies where workers reps play an active

    role in risk assessment it is generally o a higher quality, covers awider variety o risks and leads to more systematic preventionmeasures. One survey, carried out in 28 hospitals in the Piedmontregion in Italy, showed that consultation o workers saety reps is themost signicant variable or determining which hospitals have acoherent prevention policy. Whether it concerns awareness o therisks by the doctors in charge o a unit, risk assessment, planningprevention or training measures, the situation is much moreavourable in hospitals where workers reps are consulted regularlyand systematically.

    a x r r

    The nding that in many companies risk assessment has beenreduced to a mere bureaucratic ormality is shared by manyobservers. However, the solutions proposed vary considerably. Themajority o employers and the governments closest to thempropose to simpliy risk assessment using a two-pronged approach.From the legislative point o view, as part o the campaign or betterregulation, several governments would like to water down therequirements o the Framework Directive. They consider that riskassessment could be waived or small companies or or temporaryworkers. Another proposal would be, in certain cases, to limit theexercise to a virtual assessment with no written record and thereoreno opportunity or consulting workers reps. The idea odemystiying risk assessment by turning it into a mere exercise ocommon sense can not contribute to an improvement o prevention.

    This campaign is being waged in the name o containingadministrative costs, which could be brought down by 25%. The

    Laurent VogeLHealth and Saety Department o the European Trade Union Institute Research, Education, Health and Saety (ETUI-REHS), Brussels, Belgium

    W o r k e r s a n d s a f e t yr e p r e s e n t a t i v e s p a r t i c i p a t i o n :

    t h e k e y t o s u c c e s s i n r i s k a s s e s s m e n t

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    two dierent cultures to characterise the views o prevention expertsand workers:

    We can imagine a dialectic relationship between these two

    cultures original, autonomous cultures (...) with totally dierent

    experiences, instruments, categories o thinking, assessmenttechniques, that really exist and must coexist even in

    conrontation with each other, and must work together. It is in

    that conrontation between specifc contributions each with

    their own experience and respective instruments that we will

    fnd a wealth o solutions.

    The ollowing statement emerged rom a survey on the collectiveperception o risk among the workers in Spains ceramics industry:

    Contrary to the typical terminological distinctions o the jargon

    o prevention techniques, the spontaneous collective perception

    o workers with regard to risks in the workplace is generally

    expressed as a web o inter-relations in which, or example,health and saety hazards are linked to specifc orms o

    organisation and are perceived in the way that they materialise

    as health hazards (). In the discussion groups in which a

    collective perception o risks with less media coverage emerges,

    workers express dierent problems and priorities to those

    identifed by the experts. We can especially see the importance

    that workers attach to health problems linked to work

    organisation as opposed to the experts almost exclusive concern

    with saety and accidents in the workplace.

    The choice is not between assessments made by the workersthemselves or those made by experts. There needs to be an

    assessment in which each partys knowledge is recognised as equallylegitimate and complementary and in which validation o suchknowledge ultimately rests on the capacity to provide practicalsolutions to workers needs.

    More systematic participation by workers and their representatives inall the stages o risk assessment is an alternative to outsourcing theprocess to consultants. That would guarantee the optimalconsideration o all the risks and par ticularly acilitate the process oassessing the denition o a practical prevention plan. Suchparticipation requires two prior conditions: respect o that mostelementary orm o workplace democracy the existence oworkers representation and appropriate resources in terms o

    inormation, training and access to expertise. This represents anenormous challenge or trade unions. They must be able to supportthe workers reps eectively, come up with practical tools to assessthe risks, and provide critical and competent appraisal whenevernecessary.

    Another way orward would involve pooling risk assessment.Hundreds o thousands o dierent assessments are currentlyorganised at company level. More oten than not, the approach ishighly ragmented. Prevention strategies have a lot to gain bypooling experiences. I can recall a very interesting experience inBordeaux, where a joint risk assessment was carried out by all thecitys hairdressing salons. Ater this joint assessment had been done,the general conclusions could easily be adapted to the particularsituation o each company. Pooling eorts is a good alternative tosecond-rate assessments. It osters a more active participation by thepublic authorities and collective systems o relations which allowunions and management to act eectively. The implementation o

    arguments underlying this campaign are based on a distorted viewo the situation. The agenda ollowed by the myth exploders itselrests upon some dangerous myths and on an ignorance o theelementary requirements o prevention.

    Risk assessment has to be much more than a simple exercise incommon sense i it is to become an eective instrument orprevention. In the eld o occupational health, many risks have beenmade invisible by society. Most long-term risks are underestimated.Sometimes they are denied. Risk assessment is necessarily anexercise in deconstructing this invisibility. Prevention is only eectivei we can understand risks through their relationships to one anotherand trace them back to determining actors such as the organisationo work and social relations in the workplace. Many employers inSMEs underestimate the situation, but in act work-related risks areoten both endemic and complex in small companies. To give justone example, emale cleaning sta are simultaneously exposed toserious chemical hazards, uncomortable ergonomic postures,dicult working hours and a tyrannical work organisation. All too

    requently these actors are aggravated by low social prestige andgender and ethnic discrimination. To believe that we could limitassessment to a simple exercise o common sense, possiblysupported by a quick checklist, is to turn our backs on the prospecto an all-embracing prevention approach that tackles the root causeso health problems in the workplace.

    It is absurd to claim that risk assessment represents an excessiveadministrative cost. One recent survey rom the UK noted that SMEsdedicate very little time to health and saety issues. Around 60% ocompanies with ewer than 10 workers spend one hour or less perweek and 25% spend no time at all on this matter. The excessive costor SMEs is caused by accidents in the workplace and the great many

    occupational diseases aecting workers.

    Seeking to reduce risk assessment requirements is no more thandemagogy. However, that does not mean that we simply have to putup with the current situation. It just means that we need to improveit through a dierent approach.

    a r r r

    Promoting a participatory risk assessment is certainly the mostpromising alternative to a ormal and bureaucratic concept o suchan assessment. The justication or this proposal can be summarised

    in two words: interest and knowledge. Workers have a clear interestin improving prevention. In the European Union today, slightly ewerthan 30% o workers consider that working conditions aect theirhealth. When asked whether they would be able to continue to dothe same job ater they turned 60, more than 40% o people said no.These are just averages. Working conditions mark major socialinequalities in terms o health. They contribute to the growing gap inlie expectancy between the more privileged sectors and manualworkers. It is the workers with the least control over their workingconditions who tend to accumulate risks. A participative assessmentcan help to reverse this trend: giving a voice to the men and womenwho are generally denied this possibility. Their interest in changingworking conditions can be based on rst-hand knowledge o suchconditions. When it comes to dening work-related health problemsand nding solutions to them, the collective expertise o workers isno less than that o the specialists. It takes other orms, uses adierent language, but is undeniably useul. Antonio Grieco, who ranthe occupational medicine clinic in Milan or many years, spoke o

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    Rosskam, E. (2007), Excess Baggage. Leveling the Load and Changing theWorkplace, Amityville-New York, Baywood.

    Takala, J. (2005), Decent Work Sae Work, ILO Introductory Report to theXVIIth World Congress on Saety and Health at Work, Orlando.

    TUC (2006), Focus on Health and Saety. Trade Union Trend Survey 06/02.TUC biennial survey o saety reps 2006, London.

    Vogel, L. (2007), A critical look at the health and saety at workstrategy 2007-2012, HESA Newsletter33, pp.17-26.

    Vogel, L., Paoli, P. (2006), New scope or the Community health andsaety at work strategy 2007-2012, Brussels, TUTB.

    Website: EPSARE: European Project on Saety Reps http://hesa.etui-rehs.org/uk/dossiers/dossier.asp?dos_pk=15

    Laurent Vogel is the

    Director o the Health

    and Saety Department

    o the Trade Union

    Institute Research,

    Education, Health and

    Saety (ETUI-REHS) in

    Brussels. ETUI-REHS is

    unded by the European Commission and aims to promote high

    standards o health and saety in the workplace throughout Europe.

    It succeeds the ormer European Union Technical Bureau or Health

    and Saety (TUTB), ounded in 1989 by the European Trade UnionConederation.

    REACH1 is a challenge in this regard. It provides an unprecedentedopportunity to improve prevention in the eld o chemical hazards.The quality o this work will also depend on the capability o thepublic institutions to provide practical assessment tools, pool theknowledge acquired and stimulate sectoral approaches to help toreplace the most hazardous substances in a systematic way. I theseconditions are met, risk assessment will show its enormous potentialto kick-start prevention and change working conditions.


    Boix, P., Garca, A.M., Llorens, C., Torada, R. (2001), Percepciones yexperiencia. La prevencin de los riesgos laborales desde la ptica de los

    trabajadores, Valencia, ISTAS.

    Boix, P., Vogel, L. (1999), Risk assessment at the workplace. A guide orunion action, Brussels, TUTB.

    Co.Ra.L .S. (Coordinamento dei Rappresentanti dei Lavoratori per laSicurezza) (2005), La sicurezza sul lavoro negli ospedali del Piemonte,Turin.

    Fidderman, H. (2008), Better regulation strikes again, Health andSaety Bulletin 365, pp. 8-14.

    Lansdown, T., Deighan, C., Brotherton, C. (Heriot Watt University)(2007), Health and saety in the small to medium-sized enterprise.Psychosocial opportunities or intervention, HSE research report RR 578.

    Mengeot, M. (2007), Occupational cancer. The Cinderella disease,Brussels, ETUI-REHS.

    Parent-Thirion, A., Fernndez Macas, E., Hurley, J., Vermeylen, G.(2007), Fourth European Working Conditions Survey, Dublin, EuropeanFoundation or the Improvement o Living and Working Conditions.

    1 REACH is a new European Community Regulation that creates a new, single system or

    the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation o Chemicals. More on REACH: http://


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    The Dutch Working Conditions Act requires employers toperorm a Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RIE). Until recently,

    small business owners in particular were unhappy about this rathertime-consuming obligation. However, the introduction o digitalRIE instruments disseminated through the web has simplied theprocess enormously. This approach is strongly supported and

    subsidised by the Dutch ministry o Social Afairs and Employment.By using these digital instruments, employers in small andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can comply with the law cheaplyand easily, and help to ensure a healthy work environment.

    This article describes the background and development o the digitalRIE approach in the Netherlands, ocusing particularly on the SMEssector. It touches on important eatures to keep in mind whenimplementing such an approach on a national level.

    d r

    Under the Dutch Working Conditions Act, all employers must recordthe risks aced by their employees, as well as when and how theyintend to reduce those risks, in their working conditions policy. Since1994, a Risk Inventory and Evaluation has been obligatory or allDutch employers where more than 40 hours paid labour isperormed a week.

    The purpose o the RIE is to answer questions such as: Have anyaccidents ever occurred at the company premises? What could gowrong that might cause damage? What is the risk o a specicundesirable event happening? How could this risk be limited?Subsequently, in consultation with the employees, a plan omeasures is developed in which the business owners outline howand when they plan to deal with the risks.

    Until recently, all companies in the Netherlands were required to havethe RIE approved by a certied OSH service. The costs involved otenmade small business owners reluctant to perorm an RIE. However,

    Dutch legislation no longer requires companies with between 10 and25 employees to engage an OSH service or a ull authorisation o theRIE. Instead, i the RIE instrument is accepted by the social partners, apartial authorisation through an OSH service is sucient.

    Since 1 July 2005, companies with ewer than 10 employees arelikewise no longer required to have the OSH service review and theRIE approved. Instead, they are required to complete an RIE that hasbeen approved by the employers and employees o the relevantsector or industry.

    s a Rie r

    For a decade (1992-2002), the old RIEs were paper questionnaires thathardly made any distinction between business sectors they were

    virtually the same. Employers were required to read the wholequestionnaire to nd the parts applicable to their sector. The dizzyingarray o questions would sidetrack employers rom what really neededto be done in their business. In addition, many had no idea what thepurpose o various questions they had to answer was, so it took thema lot o time to complete the questionnaire, says Mario van Mierlo,Secretary or Working Conditions Policy at MKB Nederland, the Dutchassociation or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). MKBNederland represents 125 sector organisations and 175,000 SMEs. Thevast majority (90 per cent) o Dutch SMEs employ 10 people or ewer.In such companies, the owner/entrepreneur will oten personally takeon a number o work-related activities, such as the development o aworking conditions policy.

    To make this process easier or entrepreneurs, MKB Nederland turnedto TNO Quality o Lie in 2003 and asked them to develop a genericdigital RIE or SMEs that would be easier to ll in. The Dutch Ministryo Social Aairs and Employment, acknowledging the problemsaced by small business owners, co-unded the development o thistool. Partners in the development were the Dutch OSH servicesCommit, Stigas, Arbo Duo and Avensa.

    This pioneering project helped entrepreneurs rom SMEs to switchrom using Stone Age instruments requiring exhaustive struggleswith piles o paper to a simple, ecient and interactive digital tool.

    a d f Rie

    Meanwhile, around 2003, a new cabinet in the Netherlands decidedto drastically reduce the administrative burdens aced by Dutch

    Jan MicHieL MeeuWsenTNO Quality o Lie, Hooddorp, The Netherlands

    D i g i t a l R i s k I n v e n t o r y a n d E v a l u a t i o n ( R I E ) :a D u t c h a p p r o a c h o f f e r i n g v a l u a b l e s u p p o r t

    f o r s m a l l b u s i n e s s o w n e r s

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    Netherlands today, sector organisations are stimulated to developso-called OSH solution catalogues. This goes a step beyond thedigital risk assessment, because it oers immediate solutions toemployers. In this approach, best practice in a sector is collated andpresented to all, thus avoiding the need or each individual employerto reinvent the wheel.

    The digital RIE project approach was not ocused exclusively on a topnotch digital instrument, but it also took into account themanagement o a process in which social partners and OSH servicesactive in the specic sector could be included in the developmentalprocess. Moreover, a relevant incentive was introduced or sector

    organisations to motivate them to participate, it was stipulated that ithe digital instrument was developed and accepted by socialpartners, the members o the sector organisation would be subjectto less severe enorcement by the Dutch labour inspectorate.


    The important question is: has this approach resulted in asignicantly higher compliance rate amongst SMEs? Entrepreneurs

    citizens and companies. The political vision was that excessiveadministrative burdens were slowing down economic growth andwidening the gap between citizens and the government.

    A special taskorce was appointed and the objective was to cut the

    administrative burden by 25% in our years. An initial analysis showedthat OSH regulations imposed a rather substantial administrativeburden on the Dutch business community. Specic researchperormed by TNO or the Ministry o Social Aairs and Employmentdemonstrated that many OSH administrative and bureaucraticobligations really rustrated small and medium-sized enterprises. Thisresearch1 has shown that some entrepreneurs regard RIE as anadministrative obligation that adds little to their core activities: doingbusiness, surviving and growing. One entrepreneur called the RIE apaid insult.

    Consequently, the ministry decided to build urther on the successuldigital tool developed or MKB Nederland. TNO was then asked toproduce digital risk instruments or many sectors in close

    collaboration with social partners and OSH services. Today, morethan 70 digital RIEs have been developed or dierent businesssectors. These range rom hospitals to sh shops and care givers.Each sector has its own tailor-made instrument with questionsrelated to its specic risks. Moreover, through the use o so-calledlter questions, where a Yes ignites a new set o questions, the usercan navigate easily through the orms.

    Entrepreneurs can download the questionnaire rom the Dutch

    websites www.rie.nl and www.arboportaal.nl . And they are certainlydoing so: on average, 5,000 copies o the digital RIE are downloadedeach month.

    Taking just 90 minutes to complete, eld-specic digital RIEs areremarkably easy to use. Business owners only need to answerquestions that are truly relevant to their particular eld. Questionsregarding the risks involved in transporting hazardous substancesare no longer a standard part o the survey. Ater all, what relevancedo such questions have or respondents in, or example, the sportssector? Sector-specic RIEs also make it easier to provide detailedsolutions: i the owner o a bar doesnt have a protocol orconnecting the beer pump, a protocol can immediately be

    downloaded through the hyperlink in the digital RIE. In ac t, in the

    1 Heemskerk, F. et al. (2003), (TNO and BMVS): Kleine bedrijven en arbo [Small enterprises

    and occupational health and saety]. Ik wil geen antwoord, maar een oplossing [I dont

    want an answer but a solution]. SZW, The Hague.

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    sector. The government and the sector organisations now need topublicise these instruments more among SMEs. It is also necessary tokeep access to the web simple and to ensure the digital instrumentsare easy to use and kept up to date.


    Trade organisations expect that the digital RIEs will enable morebusiness owners to comply with the legal requirements, creating apositive impacton the working conditions in their companies.Additionally, the RIE will refect positively on the image o employers ater all, the act that they are using it shows that they take theirmoral obligation to take good care o their employees seriously. Thisundamental principle o being a good employer is set out in boththe Dutch Working Conditions Act and the Dutch Civil Code. Iemployers ail to comply with their duty o care, they may beconronted with a high rate o absenteeism as well as claims led

    against them by employees. Given that these claims concern anoccupational disease or injury, the burden o proo is on theemployers. This means that they must demonstrate to the court thatthey have done everything possible to prevent damage. I they ail toconvince the court, it may have serious consequences. An RIE is ameans o showing that employers take their duty o care or theiremployees seriously.

    The act that such claims are no laughing matter is evidenced bygures provided by the Occupational Diseases Bureau o FNV, theDutch trade union conederation. In recent years, the Bureau hashandled no ewer than 150 cases in which employees sued theiremployer or damages related to an occupational disease or injury.The majority o these cases were settled amicably. However, some

    were not, and the courts ordered the employer to pay damages. Thecompensation awarded covers loss o wages, holiday allowance,pension payments, and sometimes emotional damage. In July 2007the bureau assisted a consultant rom an insurance company in acase against his employers. He received compensation amounting to237,000 euros because he suered rom burnout caused by his workand no prevention measures were implemented.

    What is the main incentive or business owners to take their workingconditions seriously? Preventing absenteeism continues to be thebest policy and the digital RIE being cheap, easy and eective isthe best tool to support it.

    Jan Michiel Meeuwsen works as aconsultant OSH manager at TNO

    Quality o Lie, Hooddorp, The

    Netherlands. He is a specialist in

    national OSH policy. He has worked

    in dierent cultures and has

    experience in impact assessments

    o drat legislation in CEE countries,

    and the training o labour

    inspectors and entrepreneurs in

    SMEs on OSH policy.

    using the instrument have indicated in evaluations that they valuethe simplication and computerisation highly. It saves time and thedigital instruments are well-synchronised with business practice.However, not all entrepreneurs are aware o the new oer and itappears that there is still computer phobia in some sectors, so theold paper RIEs are still in use.

    Initially, it appeared rom gures gathered by the Dutch labourinspectorate (AI) that compliance with the RIE obligation wasreasonably high in the Netherlands. However, because o the under-representation o very small businesses (with less than 10employees), these gures painted too fattering a picture. However,one can assume a compliance percentage o between 50% and 59%o all employers in the Netherlands. Compliance is lowest amongstthe (very) small businesses. Figures rom the Dutch labourinspectorate or 20062 yielded the ollowing picture:

    Company size and compliance with RIE obligation

    Company size Compliance percentag e with RIE obligatio n

    1-4 employees 42%

    5-9 employees 53%

    10-99 employees 82%

    > 100 employees 97%

    The implementation o developed instruments and approaches bysector organisations down to the shop foor is also less thanexpected. This is particularly true or small businesses.

    Moreover, it is a act that support or legislation on occupational

    health and saety in very small businesses is in general exceptionallylow. However easy it is made by the government, manyentrepreneurs are not convinced o the added value o anadministrative obligation such as completing an RIE. This is not tosay that no time is being spent on health and saety measures;rather that other measures are being taken in order to improveworking conditions. This is oten done in a reactive manner as soonas an actual problem comes up. In the second hal o 2007, theMinistry o Social Aairs and Employment commissioned researchinto what motivates small businesses in deciding whether or not tocomply with the statutory RIE obligation. This research is beingcarried out by TNO.

    In recent evaluations, employers have indicated that downloadingand retrieving the digital RIE instruments rom a website is notalways possible. In addition, businesses have indicated that it shouldbe made easier to nd the right instrument or explanation on therelevant websites. The government and sector organisations alsochange their websites oten, and this does not promote an ecientsearch process or users o digital instruments.

    In short, the oer o digital RIEs is impressive and in some sectorstheir use has led to a substantial drop in the administrative burdenand an improvement in working conditions. A big step in the rightdirection has been made by digitalisation and by a developmentprocess whereby risks have been mapped and improvementmeasures have been proposed at a higher aggregation level in a

    2 Bos, M., Saleh, F., Erdem, O., Samadhan, J. (2007), Arbo in bedrij 2006. Een onderzoek naar

    de naleving van arbo-verplichtingen, blootstelling aan arbeidsisicos en genomen

    maatregelen in 2006, Arbeidsinspectie.

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    This article explains the DanishWorking Environment Authoritys

    approach to getting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out a riskassessment. The Danish WorkingEnvironment Authority has drawn up a

    series o sector-oriented working environment guidelines and riskassessment checklists aimed at helping SMEs to draw up suchassessments.

    In Denmark as in all other EU countries companies with employeeshave an obligation to draw up a risk assessment, irrespective o the sizeo the business. The risk assessment should be drawn up incollaboration between management and employees. The riskassessment is the companys own tool or mapping, prioritising andresolving problems associated with the working environment.

    Denmark has a large number o SMEs. In Denmark SMEs are denedas companies with ewer than 10 employees, and around 70% o theapproximately 200,000 employers all into this category.


    Because many companies in Denmark are so small, it is very seldomthat a company has a person employed specically to look ater healthand saety. It is thereore a challenge to get the message across toSMEs that they have an obligation to draw up a risk assessment.

    Furthermore it is crucial to communicate to SMEs that health andsaety pays a sae and healthy working environment makes goodnancial sense. At the same time it is important to make companiesaware that drawing up a risk assessment involves more than justlling in a ormal piece o paper. It is important or the company tocarry out its risk assessment in a systematic way, and to treat it as aroutine part o its health and saety work.

    It is a major challenge to help SMEs to draw up a meaningul riskassessment in the most eective way.

    t d r r

    In Denmark it was decided to handle the problem by means otargeted communication and assistance or SMEs. The DanishWorking Environment Authority (DWEA) has thereore drawn up 48sector-oriented working environment guidelines and 60 riskassessment checklists. Both the guidelines and the checklists areintended as non-compulsory aids or companies. In other words,these tools are optional.

    There are no requirements as to which methodology companiesshould use when drawing up their risk assessment, just as there areno ormal requirements placed on the risk assessment. The onlyrequirement is that a risk assessment should be written down andthat the ollowing process requirements should be satised:

    1. Identication and mapping o the health and saety conditions inthe company

    2. Description and assessment o the health and saety problems othe company

    3. Incorporation o gures on absenteeism at the company4. Prioritising and preparing an action plan to solve the health and

    saety problems5. Guidelines on ollow-up procedures with regard to the action plan.

    srr r r

    As mentioned above, the DWEA has drawn up 48 sector-orientedworking environment guidelines, where companies can read moreabout the requirements in relation to the work ing environment andnd good advice on preventing problems.

    The purpose o the sector-oriented working environment guidelinesis to identiy expected work-related risks in the dierent sectors. Thiswill help companies ocus their risk assessment on the problems thatare important to them. The work ing environment guidelines havebeen drawn up in the knowledge that the range o work-related risksvaries widely within the same area depending on the sector. Forexample, problems o ergonomics will not be the same in a bank ason a construction site.

    The working environment guidelines contain inormation on what the

    DWEA considers to be the most important working environmentproblems in the various sectors. The guidelines contain, among otherthings, inormation on the most important rules and the DWEAsproposals on how to resolve typical problems in the various sectors.Hence the guidelines serve as tools both or mapping problems andor coming up with possible solutions to the problems.

    The working environment guidelines were drawn up in 1999, and atthe same time changes were made in the way the DWEA carries outits inspections. The DWEAs inspections are now organised so thatthey take the companys risk assessment as the star ting point andocus on the health and saety risk s mentioned in the workingenvironment guidelines or that sector.

    The working environment guidelines were developed by combiningknowledge rom the DWEAs own technical experts and knowledgerom research into the work environment. The problems associatedwith the work environment have been prioritised so that the

    eLisaBetH La courDanish Working Environment Authority (DWEA), Denmark

    C h a l l e n g e s i n g e t t i n g S M E st o d r a w u p a r i s k a s s e s s m e n t

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    To ensure enorcement, checks are carried out during the DWEAsinspection to see whether companies have drawn up a riskassessment. I there is no risk assessment, the DWEA issues a notice

    giving the company a deadline to produce one.

    Experience with the sector-oriented working environmentguidelines and checklists has shown that companies have reactedpositively to these useul tools. Even though the checklists weredrawn up to help smaller companies, both tools are being used bylarge as well as smaller companies.

    When the DWEA began screening all companies on 1 January 2005,it became aware that there was still a challenge in getting SMEs todraw up a risk assessment.

    In those sectors that traditionally have visible problems with the

    physical working environment, e.g. the building and constructionsector, companies have been more accustomed to ocusing on theworking environment, and it has been more natural to use workingenvironment guidelines and checklists here than in those sectorswhere working environment problems are not as immediately visible.

    By the end o 2011 the DWEA will have inspected all Danishcompanies. During the inspections the risk assessment will bechecked. It is hoped that that the risk assessment will in time becomea natural part o every companys preventive health and saety work.

    One o the 60 risk assessment checklists. T his example shows a checklist or offi ce and

    administration, with questions on indoor climate, ergonomics and the psychosocial workingenvironment, among other things.

    Elisabeth la Cour is a legal adviser

    at the Danish Working

    Environment Authority (DWEA).

    Among other things she works on

    regulations concerning risk

    assessment and the organisation

    o health and saety work.

    guidelines are not too extensive. A guideline typically containsbetween our and six health and saety risks. They are not intended tobe exhaustive, so there may be problems that are not mentioned inthe sectors working environment guideline but which are still relevantto the company. It is the companys responsibility to ensure that theworking environment is in order, and it should include all relevantproblems whether or not they are mentioned in the guidelines.

    Today the DWEA normally sends the relevant guidelines tocompanies beore a scheduled inspection so that the companies canprepare themselves or the inspection. The DWEA also uses theguidelines to train its inspectors beore they carry out an inspectionin a new sector. The inspectors ongoing experiences with a sectorcan thereore also be used to assess the guidelines.

    The working environment guidelines are updated as the DWEAreceives new knowledge on the problems within the various sectors.During its updates, the DWEA applies both its own experiences andresearch-based knowledge. At the moment the DWEA is in the

    process o incorporating psychosocial risk actors into all workingenvironment guidelines.

    One o the 48 sector-oriented working environment guidelines.


    A couple o years ater the working environment guidelines hadbeen developed, the DWEA developed its sector-oriented riskassessment checklists. The background was a political decision toassist SMEs. In contrast to the guidelines, which are aimed at all

    enterprises, the checklists are aimed directly at SMEs (companieswith ewer than 10 employees). The checklists are optional, ratherthan a regulatory requirement. They help companies map theirworking environment problems.

    The checklists are sector-oriented and thereore their ocus is theworking environment conditions that are typical or the individualsector. The checklists contain a series o questions to which theenterprise should answer yes or no. All the questions with a yesanswer constitute a working environment problem which should beprioritised and i necessary orm part o the action plan to be drawnup by the company.

    The DWEA has produced checklists covering around 60 sectors. I acompany has activities within various sectors, it can ll in severalchecklists. The DWEA updates the checklists on a continual basis. It hasalso developed a specic checklist that only concerns the psychosocialworking environment, and can be used within all sectors.

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    Take care is good advice oreveryone. Ater all, health

    is an essential requirement or ahigh quality o lie. Health isparticularly important oremployers and their workers. Ahealthy boss (employer) will runhis company more efectivelyand healthy employees will be

    able to carry out their work to a higher standard.

    In the workplace, health can be endangered by a number oconditions. The spectrum o possible risk actors or health varies romtrade to trade. These range rom unsae machines and plant todangerous substances or unsuitable working materials, and can go onto include undue stress, or example through working under pressure.

    It is worth taking a good look at these working conditions and theirpossible consequences or health and saety. The Health and Saety

    Act even provides a legal obligation or employers in this regard. Thisact describes the associated procedure as risk assessment.

    The aim o r isk assessment is quite simple. It involves analysingactivity at the workplace and evaluating the associated risks in orderto determine any necessary health and saety measures. These willprimarily be measures to ensure a sae and practical work ingenvironment. It may also be necessary to implement measuresaimed at personal protection or the conduct o employees.

    Risk assessment is pivotal or health and saety at the workplace andhas become the ocus o attention or Germanys health and saetyauthorities and the Berusgenossenschaten (BG) [employers liabilityinsurance associations]. It is only when responsible employers carryout proper risk assessments at the workplace that they becomecapable o identiying and establishing the health and saetymeasures required.

    Small and micro-businesses in particular encounter problems withthe systematic approach required. They may be battling so hard tosurvive that the take care slogan slips o a bosss radar. It isimportant that they dont see risk assessment as yet anotherbureaucratic requirement that is more trouble than it is worth.

    It is rather a matter o establishing as simply as possible how health isactually endangered and how that risk can best be dealt with. This isparticularly easy or a boss i he makes use o the experience o his

    employees and the specialist knowledge o his own saety expertsand company medical ocer. With the boss leading the way,everyone should be able to contribute towards the preservation andprotection o health.

    The Berlin and Brandenburg health and saety authorities arecurrently implementing a programme or Risk assessment andimplementation o health and saety measures in micro-businessestogether with the Employers Liability Insurance Association (BG) orthe Building and Construction Trade (BG BAU), the North German BGor the Metal Trade, the BG or the Quarry Trade, the BG or thePrecision and Electrical Engineering Trade and the BG orAdministrative Occupations. This joint action is based on acooperation agreement between the German ederal states (Lnder)and the BGs involved, as well as a jointly developed basicunderstanding regarding the implementation o risk assessment inbusinesses. This orms the oundation or a coordinated approachwhich is as convenient as possible or businesses.

    This programme examines how micro-businesses, i.e. those withewer than 10 employees, deal with the legal obligation to carry outa risk assessment. I the approach adopted by a business provesunsatisactory because the appropriate health and saety measureshave not been determined by the boss, then it must be improved.

    Although establishing a suitable and practical approach is rst andoremost a matter or an employer and his internal experts, it canand should also be supported by the health and saety authoritiesand the BGs.

    raLf grneBergBrandenburg Authority or Occupational Saety and Health

    E v e n m i c r o - b u s i n e s s e s c a n d o r i s k a s s e s s m e n t s .A j o i n t a c t i o n b y t h e B e r l i n a n d B r a n d e n b u r g h e a l t h a n d s a f e t y

    a u t h o r i t i e s a n d e m p l o y e r s l i a b i l i t y i n s u r a n c e a s s o c i a t i o n s

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    Figure 2 Help used in the development o risk assessment (handbooks o the

    employers liability insurance associations, government brochures,

    documents rom saety experts, etc.)

    Insurance association

    Employers' liability

    Health and safety


    Safety experts

    Company doctor


    0 20 40 60 80 10

    46 54

    4,5 95,5

    27 73

    10,5 89,5

    30 70

    yes (help used) no (help not used)

    The action sets new standards in a number o respects or uturehealth and saety actions on the part o institutional bodies in theBerlin-Brandenburg region. The development o a common basicunderstanding on the implementation o risk assessment and thetask-sharing procedure o the state health and saety administrationand accident insurers make it possible to provide employers withproessional advice as well as joint approaches or the optimum useo resources. This approach is also currently being pursued nationallyon the basis o the Gemeinsame Deutsche Arbeitsschutzstrategie (GDA)

    [Common German Health and Saety Strategy] established inNovember 2006.

    Micro-businesses employ a large proportion o workers and, being asignicant economic actor, are a centre o attention in theimplementation o health and saety measures at the workplace.Good health and saety organisation and systematic, continuous riskassessment are also the best precondition or healthy employees asan essential actor or ensuring high protability.

    The action or carrying out risk assessment and implementing healthand saety measures in micro-businesses was continued in 2007. Theproject will be completed with a comprehensive evaluation o the

    results involving all participants and publication o the results in 2008.

    Ral Grneberg graduated in power

    engineering and is head o

    department o a

    regional department o the OSH

    authority o Brandenburg, Germany.

    Together with his colleagues he has

    been advising and supervising SMEs

    and micro-enterprises in planning

    and carrying out risk assessments since 2005.

    The aim o the action is to determine health risks in micro-businessesin the Berlin-Brandenburg region in a more systematic manner, tobetter identiy these risks and, on that basis, to make the rightdecisions regarding health and saety measures.

    It is specically intended that the seven supervisory bodies involvedwill between them examine how risk assessment has been carried outin at least 1,500 micro businesses. The data acquired will be evaluatedcentrally by the Landesamt r Arbeitsschutz des Landes Brandenburg[Brandenburg Authority or Occupational Saety and Health].

    In 2006, more than 1,000 micro-businesses in the chosen elds (inparticular those with higher levels o risk or employees) had alreadybeen inspected in the states o Berlin and Brandenburg. An interimevaluation reveals that risk assessments had been carried out andappropriate health and saety measures had been determined in67% o the micro-businesses examined (see Figure 1). With regard tothe systematic risk assessment approach taken, the BGs ownhandbooks were predominantly used (46%) as well as the specialist

    support o the saety at work experts (27%) (see Figure 2).Unortunately, the risk assessment records submitted by companiesdid not always come up to expectations: in 13% o businesses,urther inspections on the basis o previously unconsidered riskswere ound to be necessary. Micro-businesses which had notconducted a risk assessment were invited to have one carried outand to report back independently to the appropriate authorities.

    For the Berlin-Brandenburg region, this interim evaluation hasalready reuted the theory put orward in national publications thatthe majority o employers in micro-businesses either ail to carry outrisk assessments, or carry them out inadequately. The majority oemployers in micro-businesses are clearly motivated to protect thehealth o their employees through appropriate measures, even ithey are not all aware that this decision-making process is called riskassessment.

    Figure 1 Perormance o risk assessment in the businesses investigated in the

    Berlin-Brandenburg region






    Predominantly yes

    Predominantly no


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    Risk assessment is key to getting a grip on risks in theworkplace it puts you in control and it leaves your business

    less open to chance. By ocusing on the risks that really matter inyour workplace the ones with the potential to cause real harm accidents and ill health to workers and members o the publiccan be prevented. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, andharm business too.

    The process o risk assessment is oten viewed as mysti ying or tootechnical, and requiring expert input. A particularly hazardous orcomplex process, such as that o a petrochemical plant, will need

    great expertise and attention to detail, but that isnt the case or thevast majority o businesses.

    Within a changing workplace, risks need to be properly controlled;or this to happen, the ocus needs to be on control measures. Thepaperwork side o the risk assessment process is important since itallows ndings to be shared with sta, and allows a review to takeplace at an appropriate interval. However paperwork on its ownnever saved a lie, and in act, all the is may be dotted and tscrossed, but unless the control measures identied as necessary areimplemented, the risks will not be controlled. Paperwork should be ameans to an end, resulting in actions that protect people in practice.

    Business people need support in understanding what is expected othem, so that they are not put o carrying out risk assessmentsaltogether because they think that risk assessment is too complex ormystiying. I this happens, risks will not be identied and nomeasures will be taken to control the risks.

    So, it is important that people understand that a risk assessment issimply a careul examination o what in the workplace could causeharm to people, taking account o the precautions which have beentaken, and making a decision on whether more should be done toprevent harm. It is important that the process does not becomeover-complicated, and that the ocus is on actionwhich needs to betaken to control the risks. The reality o r isk assessment is that in mostinstances a complicated process isnt necessary, but rather thatstraightorward measures can readily control risks.

    In Britain, the Health and Saety Executive (HSE) has sought todemystiy the risk assessment process in three ways rstly through

    clearer guidance, secondly by showing by example what is expectedand thirdly by using a bit o humour to correct some o the popularmyths and misconceptions about health and saety requirements.


    HSE recently revised and simplied its most popular piece oguidance, Five Steps to Risk Assessment, to make it easier or ordinarybusiness people, not just health and saety experts, to use. Theguidance explains in straightorward terms what risk assessment isabout and why it is important, beore taking the reader through eacho the ve steps:

    n Step 1: Identiy the hazardsn Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and hown Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautionsn Step 4: Record your ndings and implement themn Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update i necessary.

    As well as mak ing the process easier to ollow, the revised guidanceplaces greater emphasis on making sure that the results are put intoaction and not just led away and orgotten.

    The guidance and HSEs website are very clear that there is no singleright way to do a risk assessment and dierent approaches can workin dierent circumstances. Its noticeable that other countries arealso working to demystiy risk assessment, using dierent, but no lessvalid, approaches. The Republic o Ireland has produced a SaeSystem o Work Plan in pictogram orm or use in the constructionindustry. The ormat makes it easy or small companies to use andhelps get around literacy and language barriers. Denmark has alsoproduced a series o sector-specic tools that lead the assessorthrough the process or their business (see article Challenges in

    getting SMEs to draw up a risk assessment).

    Whatever the risk assessment model involved, straightorwardcommunication is key to getting more businesses to take ownershipo their risks and so protect people in practice.


    While revising its guidance, HSE ound that business people wereunclear about how much detail was expected in risk assessmentrecords. This made it dicult or them to know where to star t and attimes resulted in too much detail, but no clear conclusions. It couldalso put them o starting at all.

    HSE thereore decided to support the revised version oFive steps torisk assessmentwith some sector-specic example assessments.

    HeaLtH and safety executiVe (Hse), uK

    D e m y s t i f y i n g r i s k a s s e s s m e n t k e e p i n g i t s i m p l e , c o n c e n t r a t i n g o n a c t i o n !

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    All o this work the guidance, the examples and the myth busters are about ensuring risk assessment is a practical process that makesa real dierence. Risk assessment should be about ensuring lives are

    properly protected, and that the ocus is on reducing real risks, boththose which arise requently and those that are rare but have seriousconsequences. It should not be about generating useless mountainso paperwork or their own sake.

    The guidance and examples mentioned in this article is availableonline at www.hse.gov.uk/risk

    The Health and Saety Executive conduct and sponsor research,

    promote training, provide an inormation and advisory service and

    submit proposals or new or revised regulations and approved codes

    o practice.

    These make it clear that the risk assessment should be aboutpractical steps to protect people, it need not be dicult, and thatthe paperwork need not be long and complicated. By providing aclear indication o what enough looks like, the example assessmentsanswer the question how much is enough when it comes to riskassessment?

    Both the new guidance and the example assessments have beenwell received. HSE is working with stakeholders on urther examplerisk assessments they will continue to be added over the comingmonths.


    When making decisions about risks, people are all too otendistracted or misled by the many myths about what health andsaety regulation requires. In Britain there are popular stories about

    health and saety regulations banning everyday activities orrequiring huge amounts o paperwork or even low-risk work. Thestories get health and saety a bad name, distracting attention awayrom the real risks that need to be targeted. They also causebusinesses to waste time, money and eort to meet requirementsthat do not really exist.

    HSE has been hitting back against misleading stories in its Myth othe Month web eature. The eature uses cartoons and a littlehumour to give the acts behind some o the most popular stories. Itis proving a success, with more than 35,000 people visiting themyths each month.

    Myth: Risk assessments must always be long and complex

    Myth o the month can be ound atwww.hse.gov.uk/myth

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    This IT application is the th and latest edition o one o themost widely circulated simplied risk assessment tools used

    in Spain. Published by the National Institute o OccupationalSaety and Hygiene, the resource acilitates the identication orisk actors and their assessment and provides the correspondingcorrective and audit measures or appropriate management.

    To guarantee satisactory control o risks to workers, both workersand management must have a clear awareness o the risks and theirdetermining actors whether material, environmental, human ororganisational.

    Because the tool is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs), an over-analytical and precise approach has been sacriced

    in the interests o simplicity. The ocus is on basic preventivemeasures which, i implemented and monitored in a systematic way,should reduce the number o workplace accidents and injuries. Itmust be taken into account that, like any general and simpliedmethod, it is clearly aimed at resolving deciencies in workplaces,assisting in their identication - the rst and basic step o any riskassessment - and hopeully opening the door to more specicassessment methods when regulations or individual needs demandthat matters should be examined in greater depth. It is recognisedthat simplied methods based on checklists, such as this method,are ideal at the start o any process when the aim is to obtain generalinormation on working areas, to eliminate deciencies that are easyto resolve and to assess risk situations in order to plan risk

    minimisation and control.

    The same level o analysis is applied in this case to accidents andoccupational disease, ergonomic and psychosocial risks. A set ochecklists are provided or this purpose (nine relating to physicalsaety conditions, nine to environmental conditions, two to physicaland mental workload, and two to work organisation). The mostsignicant dierence between this method and a similar onepreviously promoted by the European Commission is that thesechecklists acilitate the identication o the most common andrelevant risk actors while also oering a closed assessment system although assessors are ree to adjust the assessment results to theirown criteria in the light o their superior knowledge o the situationexamined. The assessment team, which should be made up omanagement and workers, is provided with criteria on theimportance o each o the more than 200 risk actors considered andtheir eect on the results o each o the aspects assessed, thusensuring the necessary consensus. Experience has shown that the

    assessment is particularly eective when managers and workersrepresentatives take part jointly, together with the companyoccupational risk prevention technicians.

    The checklists are drawn up in such a way that when a deciency isdetected, the type o preventive measure required to rectiy it is alsonoted. Each checklist is also accompanied by basic preventive criteria

    with a preventive action schedule that acilitates understanding othe checklist and complements the specic recommendationscontained in it and also basic rules detailing current regulations,which include legal provisions and European directives andrecommended standards (ISO, CEN, UNE), when necessary.

    When classiying the results obtained a ter applying each checklist-guide, the dierent risk actors considered are divided into just twolevels, COULD BE IMPROVED or DEFICIENT. The ormer includes thosethat do not play a crucial role in determining the oreseeabledamage, even though it is advisable to resolve them. The latter playa crucial part, however, and are thus treated as decient due to theirrelevance and involvement in the probability o the event or damage

    arising. Correlated answers must be given to all questions asked andquestions may be missed out only when this is expressly specied inthe checklist itsel, or example when a situation is not present. Atable is included at the end o each questionnaire that allows resultsto be obtained rom the deciencies detected and a consideration otheir implicit importance. In general terms when more than 50% othe risk actors considered decient are present in the working areaanalysed, the situation is evaluated as VERY DEFICIENT overall basedon this method. In this way, using an easy method o dierentiatingbetween risk actors, our situation levels or risk situations areultimately obtained and the ollowing action levels may thereore bedetermined: Acceptable, Could be Improved, Decient and VeryDecient in order to prioritise the actions to be carried out.

    It could be argued that this procedure is not precise enough toassess risks rigorously because the two actors determining the risksare not subjected to specic, dierential treatment: an initialapproximation o the normally expected consequences and theirprobability o arising can be obtained, albeit indirectly, when thepossible deciencies are classied according to their importancebecause both actors are implicitly assumed. In any case, thephilosophy o the Framework Directive and the Spanish regulationsderiving rom its application is that risk assessment should simply bea tool or prioritising preventive action based on detected needs andthis method achieves this purpose.

    An IT application has been designed to make it easier to specicallyextend and improve the useulness o this method in order to turn itinto an eective management and control tool that, in turn, allowsaccident risks not at all the same thing as psychosocial risks orexample to be assessed using the conventional system mentioned

    nationaL institute of occupationaL safety and Hygiene (insHt), spain

    A n I T a p p l i c a t i o n f o r i d e n t i f y i n g a n da s s e s s i n g r i s k s i n S M E s

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    ongoing basis due to the continuous changes, however minor, thattake place in companies. The rule o obligatory prior considerationmust also be applied specically beore carrying out a new job orany change, as instructed in the regulations, and on a regular basis inworkplaces until it becomes normal routine process. For this reason,methods such as the one described and its associated sotware playa very useul role in turning a process o systematic risk assessmentinto a procedure that is easy to apply by all those involved inpreventive action, maintaining updated logs at all times.

    Ten years ater the introduction o the regulations, the application orisk assessment in Spain has made it possible or risks to come tolight in most companies and awareness o these risks is growing.External and Internal Risk Prevention Services have played a crucialpart in this process since they have been directly responsible orimplementing this preventive activity. Despite this, the necessaryinclusion o occupational risk prevention within companyorganisation and activities must be taken a stage urther to ensurethat methods such as this one become tools that are routinely

    applied to acilitate communication between managers and workerswith a view to ensuring workplaces are increasingly sae, healthy andecient.

    Link or urther inormation:http://www.mtas.es//insht/inormation/estudiostec/et_053.htm

    The National Institute o Saety and Hygiene at Work (INSHT), which

    developed the tool discussed above, is the specialised scientic/

    technical body o the state government administration. Its mission is

    to analyse and study occupational health and saety conditions, as

    well as to promote improvements to health and saety. To this end, it

    cooperates with the competent bodies o the Spanish regional


    (probability-consequences) in a fexible, personalised manner asdescribed below.

    Users o this application must in the rst place dene the companysunctional units or working areas and the specic checklists theyneed to apply beore going on to complete the checklists: ullmento requirements is recorded by registering an armative responsewhile a deciency or risk actor is recorded by registering a negativeresponse. Assessors may add notes or each deciency wherenecessary to provide a more eective description and location andalso the preventive measure to be applied within the required termand by the assigned manager. With this in mind, the IT applicationprovides a diary (gure 1) to help the manager check that all requiredactions have been completed. As the image on the attached screenshows (gure 2), the unctional units analysed and each o thedeciencies noted in the checklists are organised into a tree,restricting access to users rom other departments when consideredadvisable.

    Depending on the type o deciencies detected and theirassessment and the level o exposure to the deciency, the ITprogram determines the accident risk probability level and combinesthis with the level o damaging consequences to calculate the risklevel and action level automatically (gure 3).

    As an essential tool o the preventive system, risk assessmentcombined with preventive planning must be updated on a virtually

    Figure 1

    Figure 2

    Figure 3

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    Since 1995, the AustrianFederal Chamber o

    Labour (BAK) has publisheda regularly revised bookletentitled Identiying Risk

    Avoiding Riskin conjunctionwith the Austrian Trade Union Federation (GB) and the AustrianFederal Economic Chamber (WK). The current edition appearedin January 2007.

    The booklet is designed to help identiy r isk in the workplace andincludes the most important provisions or examining workstationswith respect to saety and health protection. It has a clear ormat,making it practical or evaluation purposes, and providesbackground inormation as well as technical details.

    w r?

    All employers are obliged to carry out a risk identication andassessment in accordance with Section 4 o the Austrian EmployeeProtection Act (ASchG), to document this pursuant to the Regulation

    on the Saety and Health Protection Documents (DOK-VO), and todetermine risk prevention measures. This booklet aims to help theappropriate proessionals such as saety experts and occupationalhealth practitioners in this task.

    Health is a persons most valuable possession. Protecting the lie andhealth o employees is one o the most important object ives orepresentative bodies. Works councils and saety ocers (or, i thesedo not exist, all employees) must have access to these documents sothat all employees are aware o the risks at work.

    The most important principle o sae work is that only risks which havebeen detected can be eliminated or minimised. Risk assessment are inthe interest o companies because they can signicantly lower the

    costs o industrial accidents and work-related illnesses. Employees andemployers benet rom the risk assessment, and it makes it easier orthe labour inspectorate to monitor workplaces. According tocalculations by the General Accident Insurance Institute (AUVA), eachindustrial accident costs a company on average EUR 3,300; this resultsin a gure o approx. EUR 400 million or Austrian companies.Conventional theories state that it would be easy to prevent hal othese industrial accidents and to halve the cost burden on companies.Experts have calculated that the national economy loses aroundEUR 1.5 billion each year as a result o industrial accidents. Thesegures emphasise the importance or working people, companies andsociety as a whole o having eective employee protection in place.

    dr r

    Like society, the workorce is changing and becoming older.Consideration must be given to this. Risk assessment should include

    provision or age-appropriate work, since people have dierenttalents, aptitudes and requirements depending on their stage in lie.Diversity holds advantages or everyone i we are aware o it.

    sr r

    The components o stress, time pressure, social environment and

    labour organisation must be incorporated. Industrial psychologistsmust occupy a central position in employee protection, alongsideoccupational health practitioners and saety experts, because stressin the workplace, caused by labour organisation, workfows, etc., hasbecome one o the greatest pressures on employees. Stress alsogives rise to physical complaints and can trigger work-relatedillnesses. Studies show that up to 50% o all illnesses are work-related.

    wr r

    Topics dealt with in the booklet range rom natural light, ar ticiallight and ventilation, foor space, head space, room height and walls/

    ceilings, to climate and noise/vibrations. Other topics includesignposting, walkways/trac routes and means o transport, rst aid,re and explosion hazards, electrical installations, hazardoussubstances, aptitude tests and ollow-up tests, storage acilities,working materials, saety clearance, protective devices, personalprotective equipment (PPE), liting and carrying, being tied to theworkstation, workbench, screen work, time pressure as a result orequirements, social environment, and protection o non-smokersand those in need o protection.

    This is an example o the structure o the introductory explanation:

    Working materials

    Working materials are all items required or work, such astools, machines and operating equipment.

    The working materials comply with requirements i they

    n comply with the applicable legal provisions,n take account o the state o the art, ergonomics and

    occupational medicine,n are maintained adequately (upkeep, cleaning),n are installed saely, andn are used correctly.

    I the working materials are hazardous, care should be takento ensure that only authorised employees who have received

    the appropriate training (instructions) work with them.

    The most requent injuries when using working materialsare cutting injuries, s tabbing/pricking injuries, bruises,burns, etc.

    JuLia LiscHKaDepartment or occupational saety and health o the Federal Chamber o Labour, Austria

    A n A u s t r i a n b o o k l e t o n r i s k p r e v e n t i o n

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    inspection etc.), specialist knowledge and necessary supervisionshould be stated. Tests, necessary instructions and specialistknowledge should be recorded. Later on, it can be indicatedwhether the status was improved or the problem at the work stationremedied.

    s r

    The drat saety and health protection do