06/22/2006

Emerging risks - stay ahead of the game

It is possible to keep one eye on new and emerging risks in the European
workplace through the work of the European Agency for Safety and Health at
Work's European Risk Observatory.

Demographic changes as well as changes in work organisation and production
methods lead to new types of occupational risks and demand new solutions. The
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has launched an on-line Risk
Observatory ­ a data collection and analysis structure that will help identify
new risks and challenges as they emerge.

The Risk Observatory aims at providing:

  • an overview of health at work in Europe,
  • a description of the trends and underlying factors,
  • a description of the risk factors,
  • an anticipation of changes in work and their likely consequences on health.

By doing so the Observatory intends in particular to draw attention on new and
emerging risks and enable to set up preventive action.

The top emerging risks include lack of physical activity, the impact on workers
of increasing complexity of new technologies, and a greater vulnerability of
low-status workers, e.g. to thermal risks. A new underlying trend is also
visible: work health and safety is increasingly affected by multifactoral
issues. In places like call centres, for instance, staff can be exposed to a
combination of interacting risks, such as prolonged sitting at desks poorly
adjusted to their personal needs, background noise, inadequate headsets, low
job control, high time pressure, high mental and emotional demands. This, in
turn, may lead to a combination of health problems, ranging from
musculoskeletal disorders, varicose veins, nose and throat diseases and voice
disorders to fatigue, stress and burnout.

'The report clearly indicates that multifactoral and combined risks are a
growing concern', concludes Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, the Agency's Director. 'The
resulting message for policymakers and health and safety experts is that we can
no longer treat individual risks separately. What we need is a holistic
approach to risk prevention.'

More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work