EU-OSHA Annual Report for 2008: no cutting back on health and safety, warns Agency head

In the current economic downturn, European organisations cannot afford to
forget workplace safety: that is the warning issued by the Director of the
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

Writing in the Agencys Annual Report for 2008, Jukka Takala argues that
companies should think carefully before cutting back on their investment in
occupational safety and health (OSH), in the face of global recession. There is
no point in making short-term gains at the cost of long-term problems, he
writes. All of our work shows that the more healthy workplaces are, the more
productive they also tend to be.

EU-OSHAs mission is to make Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place
to work, by collecting and disseminating information on OSH, and examples of
good practice. Its activities are guided by the EU Community Strategy for
Health and Safety at Work, 2007-2012, which aims to bring about substantial
reductions in work-related accidents and illness across Europe.

Key achievements in 2008, highlighted in the report include the Agencys Healthy
Workplaces campaign on risk assessment, which is the cornerstone of health and
safety management. The campaign has so far involved more than 7,000
participants in seminars, training events and workshops, with some 2 million
print publications being distributed. The campaign is a good example of how
EU-OSHA works with its partners to reach workers in Europe.

With the launch of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks
(ESENER), EU-OSHA has begun to identify what is currently being done, both in
private- and public sector workplaces, to deal with psychosocial and other

Another focus in 2008 were emerging chemical risks with a new report finalised,
the last in a series of flagship reports which have also examined physical,
psychosocial and biological risks. Together, they establish the state of
knowledge in these fast-changing areas, and highlight particular subjects that
need to be the focus of research or policy-making.

Finally, the Agencys Strategy for 2009-2013, which was agreed in 2008, sets out
how EU-OSHA will work in the years ahead to reduce the high cost, both human
and economic, of occupational accidents and work-related diseases. The Strategy
sets out a clear role for EU-OSHA in co-ordinating the many different efforts
that take place in OSH around Europe, helping to identify common problems, and
sharing information and good practice.

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