EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Definition

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) was established in 1994 and is based in Bilbao, Spain. This tripartite European body is one of 48 EU agencies. It is tasked with assisting the European Commission, the Member States and social partner organisations across Europe in developing policies on occupational safety and health (OSH). Its role includes raising awareness of and providing information on OSH.

Background and status

EU-OSHA prepares, collects, analyses and disseminates information on OSH issues, with the aim of improving OSH in workplaces across the EU. It focuses on developing its information services in line with the priorities set out in the EU strategy for health and safety. Through its website, the Agency provides a set of free risk assessment tools (Online interactive Risk Assessment – OiRA), as well as access to practical tools and guidance on, for example, dangerous substances.

Networking

To achieve its objectives, EU-OSHA has set up a national focal point in each Member State, often a national independent agency or a unit in the national ministry of labour responsible for policy on OSH. These national focal points gather information and, through EU-OSHA, disseminate it to the Member States and the EU institutions. The Agency has also established and coordinates a network linking national, EU-level and international organisations in the field of OSH.

Surveys and campaigns

Every five years, EU-OSHA carries out an extensive survey on how European workplaces manage safety and health risks in practice, called the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER). It plans to implement a survey on workers’ exposure to cancer risk factors in Europe in 2021 and 2022 that will examine the number and characteristics of the workers exposed to a range of cancer risk factors, including asbestos, benzene, chromium, diesel exhaust, nickel, silica dust, UV radiation, wood dust and others.

EU-OSHA also runs major awareness-raising campaigns. For example, the 2020–2022 ‘Healthy workplaces lighten the load’ campaign aims to raise awareness of musculoskeletal disorders. Since 2000, as part of these campaigns, EU-OSHA has organised the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards, in cooperation with EU Member States. The awards create opportunities to raise awareness of the benefits of good safety and health in the workplace and provide a forum for the exchange of experiences and good practices across Europe.

Related dictionary terms

Dangerous substances Framework Directive on health and safety health and safety occupational accidents and diseases protective equipment risk assessment working environment

 

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