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August 26, 2009

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Euro survey reveals similarities between approaches to OSH inspection

A new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at work provides an interesting insight into how the different labour inspectorates of 23 European countries prioritise inspection, research and awareness-raising activities.

Labour inspectorates’ strategic planning on safety and health at work is based on a survey carried out in 2008 to determine the main OSH-related priorities in each country. Overall, it reveals that most countries take the same risk-based approach to inspection as the HSE in the UK, i.e. industries with the greatest risks and/or incident rate are the primary focus.

The top sectors for inspection cited by respondents to the survey were construction and road transport, while the main topics focused on were musculoskeletal disorders/manual handling, psychosocial issues/stress, and hazardous substances.

Some countries, notably the newer EU Member States, ally their priorities to overall European Union campaigns, while others, such as Switzerland, link their accident prevention work to insurance risk.

In terms of OSH research, the UK spends by far the most in this area, with an average annual budget of €26 million (this is in addition to research funded through the HSE by industry). Germany is next, with a budget of around €15 million but, on average, most countries had less than €1 million to dedicate to research.

The most popular subject areas for research were musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial problems/stress, and nanotechnology.

Awareness-raising activity tended to mirror the overall EU campaign topics in most countries, but each also focused on subjects of particular relevance to them, such as thermal fatigue among workers in Greece. Common subjects across all the countries included young workers, work at height, and manual handling.

The full report is available to download by clicking here

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