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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
Safety at work
Safety at workKeywords: Health and safety, Working conditions, Work-related injury, Europe
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, as part of its 2001 agreed Work Programme is organising a 5 million euro Accident Prevention programme aimed at Europe's small businesses (SMEs). This multiannual programme will focus on the development and exchange of effective good practice examples aimed at reducing the number and seriousness of work-related accidents in Europe.
Work-related accidents remain at stubbornly high levels. According to the latest Eurostat survey, in 1996 in the EU there were almost 4.8 million work-related accidents that resulted in more than three days' absence from work – an incidence rate of more than 4,200 per 100,000 employees. Fatal accidents for the same year were over 5,500. As well as the human suffering involved, accidents are estimated as costing Europe's economy EU some 20 billion euros each year. Workers in enterprises of fewer than 50 employees are two to three times more at risk of becoming accident victims. The SMEs programme will contribute to the development, implementation and transfer of effective preventive measures, such as risk assessments, systematic accident management, training of workers, social dialogue based agreements, campaigns and "Good Neighbour" schemes.
Preparatory work for the enlargement of the EU will also figure at the top of the Agency's agenda. During this year it will extend its information network to include the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus, Malta and Turkey. The Agency will assist in the development of tripartite Focal Points and national networks in each candidate country and establish national Agency Web sites. This network extension will contribute to the Agency's aim of developing a global Internet portal on safety and health information, building on the successful start made during 2000 which has seen the setting up of common Web sites with both the USA and Canada.
The European Agency is also actively contributing to the preparation of the future European Community Safety and Health Strategy during 2001 as one of the key elements of the new European Social Policy Agenda adopted by the European Commission last summer.
The Director of the European Agency, Mr Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, commented that:
During 2000 the Agency demonstrated the real potential of its unique network, as clearly highlighted by the success of the European Week 2000 with literally thousands of activities to combat musculoskeletal disorders. We are pleased that, with the additional resources for the SMEs programme, the Agency will be able to significantly increase its capacity to support the reduction of work-related accidents across Europe and to provide practical and effective safety and health solutions to Europe's workplaces. At the same time, the Agency will help to provide Europe's decision makers with the high quality technical, scientific and economic information that they need in order to develop a new challenging OSH strategy to improve Europe's working environment and quality of work.