A free online software, developed by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), is giving micro and small businesses across Europe the means of carrying out risk assessments in workplaces in a straightforward and cost-effective way.
‘Risk assessment is the cornerstone of health and safety management, and with the Agency’s Online interactive Risk Assessment software, OiRA, we are giving European businesses the means of carrying it out properly. As OiRA develops, it shows the way for us to work better in Europe, to keep our workplaces safe.’
That was the message of EU-OSHA Director Christa Sedlatschek, speaking at an event organised under the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU, within the framework of EU-OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Campaign “Working together for risk prevention”. The conference, held in the Cypriot city of Nicosia and entitled ‘Working together for the future of occupational safety and health in Europe’, looked at the challenges facing policymakers, employers and employees, in improving health and safety standards.
According to Christa Sedlatschek, this is precisely where OiRA can help to bring OSH closer to European businesses. OiRA is a tool which the Agency makes freely available online, and which helps micro and small businesses in Europe (who may lack resources and know-how) to carried out their risk assessment, comply with the rules on risk assessment, evaluating and managing workplace risks to prevent injury and ill health. OiRA gives businesses a simple, step-by-step guide to the risk assessment process, helping to demystify that process, and enabling risk management.
One of the first OiRA tools to be developed was in Cyprus itself: a sector-specific tool relating to the hairdressing industry, which sees high rates of occupational skin diseases and musculoskeletal disorders. Other tools are being released in Cyprus (working in offices), in France (road transport sector), and at EU level (leather and tanning industry).
New OiRA tools which are under development and which will be ready soon include one designed for hairdressers in Belgium, one generic tool and one for working in offices in Slovenia, one for butchers in Greece and one for garage holders in Lithuania. A number of other European countries have signed memoranda of understanding to develop OiRA, or are currently developing new OiRA tools or taking part in pilot projects: these include Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Belgium, Latvia Lithuania and Slovenia. Further work is being carried out by the INRS risk prevention association in France, and by the social partners working in the EU private security sector.
EU-OSHA encourages national associations of professionals to develop their sectoral tools and tailor these to their national needs. By doing so, EU-OSHA wants to promote risk assessment in the workplace and especially support Micro and Small Enterprises, allowing them to self-assess their risk without overloading their budgets. All national organisations who are interested in knowing more about the support that EU-OSHA makes available in all EU member States to develop national tools can contact the Agency via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.