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Healthy workplaces. Good for you, good for business

22 July 2008

The majority of accidents and diseases world-wide are preventable. Every year 5,720 people die in the European Union as a consequence of work-related accidents. Besides that, the International Labour Organisation estimates that an additional 159,500 workers in the EU die every year from occupational diseases. British businesses are losing £250 a second in costs and payouts for needless accidents in the workplace.

Healthy workplaces. Good for you, good for business
Healthy workplaces. Good for you, good for business

The first step in preventing accidents and the consequential costs is risk assessment. 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. “Healthy workplaces. Good for you, Good for business”, the Europe-wide campaign on risk assessment, launched by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), focuses, especially on high risk sectors such as construction, healthcare and agriculture, and on the needs of small and medium sized enterprises. The campaign will run between 2008 and 2009.

All occupational accident and disease are preventable. Every year millions of people within the EU are involved in accidents that force them to stay at home for at least 3 working days. This is unacceptable for both the individual concerned and the economy. In the UK alone businesses are losing £7.8 billion in costs and payouts for needless accidents in the workplace every year. Risk assessment is the key to reducing these figures. Implementation must follow. Businesses need clear and simple guidelines so that measures such as risk assessment and training for health and safety are seen as an asset, not a burden. That is why we warmly welcome this information campaign.

The Healthy Workplaces campaign highlights the necessity for risk assessment in line with the Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work (2007–2012), which aims to cut work-related accidents over this period by a quarter across the EU.

According to EU-OSHA Director Jukka Takala: “With the Healthy Workplaces campaign we want to encourage enterprises to carry out risk assessment properly, involving everyone in the workplace. We want to promote good practice that can be adapted to other workplaces.” Takala also highlighted the key messages of the campaign: “First, risk assessment is not necessarily complicated, bureaucratic or a task only for experts. This is a mistaken belief that is particularly common among SMEs. But there are plenty of tools available that help in the process, and EU-OSHA promotes a simple five-step approach. Secondly, proper risk assessment also brings a number of business benefits, because making workplaces safer and healthier helps to reduce absenteeism and insurance costs, and increases worker motivation and productivity.”

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