01.10.2004

Safety of Work Equipment

In its recent newsletter the European Trade Union Technical Bureau for Health
and Safety (TUTB) presents user-oriented strategies for improving technical
standard concerning the safety of work equipment.

In 2001, the TUTB set up a partnership research project with the Swedish SALTSA
Programme. It had three main aims :One was to bring the practices of trade
union participation in standardization into the public arena ; two reports on
the situation in Sweden and Germany have been posted on the TUTB website. Our
Newsletter carries a summary.Another was to look closely at where the
globalization of technical standards might lead us, and particularly, what
effects might flow from the agreement between CEN and ISO on European
standards, especially those mandated under European directives. We published
the findings of that analysis at the end of 2002 as Globalizing technical
standards. Impact and challenges for occupational health and safety.The third
is to promote and put a focus on participatory approaches to equipment design.
It shows what lessons not just standard developers, but also the European
public authorities responsible for framing design rules and policing the work
equipment market, can learn from it.The outcomes of the different stages of the
project were presented to the joint TUTB / SALTSA seminar held in June 2003,
the centrepiece of which was the draft consolidated report bringing together
and analysing nearly forty case studies on worker input into the design of
their own work equipment. The consolidated report has just been published as
Developing a participatory approach to the design of work equipment.
Assimilating lessons of workers' experience.These practices were garnered in a
multi-stage process which produced thirty-eight case studies from seven EU
countries, two-thirds of them previously unpublished.

Above all, what this enterprise does is to provide a showcase for the extensive
but unseen knowledge base that final users possess on the processes and
equipment that they work with. Knowledge that can be leveraged both in and
outside the workplace to improve technical standards. The mine of information
gathered from users can be used not just in devising technical solutions, but
also putting them to work.Workers and trade unions must be actively involved in
systematically collecting information at the workface, and in transferring and
securing legitimacy for their knowledge in arenas outside the workplace.The
seminar was an opportunity for a more detailed examination of ways and means
for feeding user information back to designers through an analysis of the role
of different actors : user groups, national authorities and trade union
industry federations.

The scientific community's potential input into working out a common approach
that is recognized at European level, as well as research needs and resources,
were identified.Taken as a whole, the project outcomes show that there is an
urgent need to put in place European-level information resources that
incorporate data from final users, as well as procedures so that CEN technical
committees, especially when operating under the Vienna Agreements with the ISO,
can initiate their own information collection so as to be certain, for
instance, that risk assessments stand up in practice.

Content:

Globalizing technical standards : impact and challenges for occupational health
and safety

Ten years of Swedish trade union activity in the national and European
standardization process

The role of German trade unions in the national and European standardization
process

European directives, standards and procedures in the international context

ISO : International standards and occupational safety

Participatory design of work equipment : lessons learned and suggestions for
future actions

How end-user data can be integrated into the ISO and CEN systems

The market as a driving force : the role of user groups

Market surveillance and work equipment standards : the role of the national
authorities

Trade unions : strategic participants ­ the role of industry federations

A common scientific background for the participatory approach ?

Future research needs ­ Designing pilot projects on collecting information on
specific equipment from the workplace

Further Information


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