Risk assessment in Europe's small enterprises

Officially launched at the XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in
Istanbul, the Online interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA) project marks the first
initiative at EU level to facilitate workplace risk assessment. Developed by
the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the innovative
tool will help Europe's 20 million micro and small enterprises to improve
safety and health for their workers by assessing risks through an easy-to-use
and cost-free web application.

"Experience shows that proper risk assessment is the key to healthy
workplaces," explains Dr Jukka Takala, Director of EU-OSHA. "Yet carrying out
risk assessments can be quite challenging, particularly for small enterprises
as they lack adequate resources or the know-how to do so effectively. The
reasons companies give for not carrying out checks are lack of expertise (41%),
the belief that risk assessments are too expensive or that they are overly time
consuming (38%). In OiRA, EU-OSHA is proud to offer a free online tool to
overcome these challenges. OiRA contributes to eliminating or reducing the 168
000 work-related deaths, 7 million accidents and 20 million cases of
work-related disease annually in the EU 27", says Dr Takala.

The vision of EU-OSHA's landmark project is to assist small enterprises in
putting in place a step-by-step risk assessment process - starting with the
identification and evaluation of workplace risks, through to the decision
making on preventive action, identification of adequate measures, to continued
monitoring and reporting. The aim is to reduce the burden for small enterprises
of carrying out and documenting their risk assessments easily and quickly while
maintaining accuracy.

"EU-OSHA is working closely with the authorities and social partners at EU and
national level to put the OiRA tool generator at their disposal," continues Dr
Takala. "In turn, these partners will develop their own sector-specific and
fully customisable OiRA tools and offer them for free to small enterprises."

The collaboration with key social partners also encourages widespread take-up
and use of the tool at enterprise level and leads to the development of an OiRA
community to share knowledge and experience. The final tool is backed by
support and full guidance services provided by EU-OSHA to the developers.

OiRA projects have been launched both at EU level and Member State level
(Cyprus, Belgium and France), piloting the development and diffusion model and
covering sectors such as hairdressing and transport.

Based on the successful Dutch Risk Inventory & Evaluation instrument, the OiRA
tool sets out to replicate this success across Europe. Since the creation of
the Dutch online tool (, there have been a total of 1.6 million
visits to the website. This is an impressive number given that the Netherlands
is a relatively small country with approximately 800 000 companies in total.
The tool is downloaded an average of 5 000 times per month.

More information - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work