Each year, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and its partners mark the European Week for Safety and Health at Work with awareness-raising events across the EU and beyond. This year’s theme, at the heart of an exciting range of activities from 22 to 26 October, is managing dangerous substances in the workplace.
Dangerous substances can be found in nearly all workplaces, with 38% of EU enterprises reporting that chemical or biological substances in the form of liquids, fumes or dust are present in their workplaces, according to EU-OSHA’s ESENER-2 survey. This European Week sees workers, managers and occupational safety and health (OSH) experts coming together to raise awareness of dangerous substances in workplaces, exchange best practices and promote effective workplace safety and health management.
EU-OSHA collaborates with an extensive network of national focal points, official campaign partners , campaign media partners and OSH ambassadors from the Enterprise Europe Network . They work together to raise awareness during the European Week, organising many events, including conferences, competitions, training sessions, exhibitions and networking and good practice events.
Focal point activities include a good practice seminar in Croatia that focuses on how to work with dangerous substances and mixtures; meanwhile, companies in Finland will benefit from best practice exchange visits, and Romania is hosting events promoting OSH and social partner engagement; chemical safety is in the focus at seminars in Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Italy and Bulgaria.
Media partner activities include articles published by Gesunde Arbeit in Austria, the Foundation Center for Safety and Health in Bulgaria and a large coverage in social media all over Europe. In Macedonia events are held by Tutela every day of the European Week, ranging from company visits to trainings in schools.
Official campaign partner European Safety Federation runs a workshop on the new PPE regulation and the European Firefighters Unions Alliance organises a seminar on firefighters' work environment and hazardous substances. Construction company Sando holds a conference on innovative prevention technologies.
Dr Christa Sedlatschek, EU-OSHA Director, commented: ‘Our ESENER survey shows that dangerous substances are present in all sectors, for example in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing, with over 50% of companies in the EU affected, and agriculture, with 62 % of EU enterprises affected. We aim to benefit workers, management and the environment by conducting research, bringing together a wealth of practical help and raising awareness of the importance of actively managing dangerous substances’.
The current Healthy Workplace Good Practice Awards, run as part of the 2018-19 campaign, recognise organisations that actively manage dangerous substances. The competition is still open in many countries. Anyone who has been impressed and inspired by their organisation’s outstanding or innovative approach to dangerous substance management can contact their national focal point to discuss applying. If, on the other hand, they are still looking for advice on how best to manage dangerous substances at work, they can take advantage of EU-OSHA’s new database of practical tools and guidance .
EU-OSHA has also revamped its campaign toolkit for the 2018-19 campaign. It features many new examples of good practice and offers practical advice on running an effective campaign on any OSH subject, including dangerous substances.