The Healthy Workplace Campaign: Reducing Work-Related Accidents and Illness through Better Risk Assessment

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Every year 5,720 people die in the European Union as a consequence of work-related accidents, according to EUROSTAT figures. Besides that, the International Labour Organisation estimates that an additional 159,500 workers in the EU die every year from occupational diseases. Taking both figures into consideration, it is estimated that every three-and-a-half minutes somebody in the EU dies from work-related causes. Most of these accidents and diseases are preventable, and the first step in preventing them is risk assessment. That is the message of Healthy Workplaces. Good for you. Good for business, the Europe-wide information campaign on risk assessment, launched by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). The campaign focuses especially on high-risk sectors such as construction, healthcare and agriculture, and on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. It will run over two years (2008-09).

Under EU law, all employers in the EU are required to carry out risk assessments. Risk assessment helps employers understand the action they need to take to improve workplace health and safety.

"Every occupational accident and disease is one too many", says Vladimir v Spidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. "Even if they don't result in fatalities, the consequences are unacceptable, both for the people concerned and for the economy. Every year, million of workers in the EU are involved in accidents which force them to stay at home for at least three working days at an enormous cost to the economy. Risk assessment is the key to reducing these figures. But it can only be the first step--implementation must follow. …