Topic Centre Occupational Safety and Health 2012

Project No. IFA 0097, Picture: OSHwiki


completed 12/2012


In 2009, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) set up its Topic Centre Occupational Safety and Health (TC-OSH). The TC-OSH was to run for four years. Between 10 and 15 projects are conducted each calendar year. In 2012, the foci lay upon the areas of cost estimates in association with occupational accidents and incapacity for work, nanomaterials and occupational safety and health, occupational safety and health in new "green jobs", cultural differences in the assumption of responsibility for OSH and worker participation, OSH legislation, research priorities in occupational safety and health, well-being at work and positive working environments, and continuation of the European Enterprise survey on new and emerging risks. In addition, EU-OSHA has charged the TC-OSH with extending the OSH wiki (a wiki for occupational safety and health, similar to Wikipedia) launched in 2011. All activities in TC-OSH have been geared to implementing the European Commission's strategy on safety and health at work for 2007 to 2012. The principal target of this strategy was a 25% reduction in occupational accidents and diseases in the EU by 2012. With its projects, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work contributes to this strategy by surveying information on safer workplaces and preparing this information for application in OSH in the field.


The work of all projects is divided among the members of an international consortium. In 2012, the IFA was involved in projects on the topics of (1) occupational safety and health in new "green jobs", in this case with the focus upon occupational activities and workplaces associated with extension of the solar energy sector, and (2) research priorities in occupational safety and health, for which the IFA studied new and increasing exposure to chemical and biological agents with regard to the need for OSH-related research. The institute conducted comprehensive literature surveys in national and international literature databases on both topics. It also delivered a further article in 2012 for the creation of the international OSH wiki, and was actively involved in management of the TC-OSH and of the Topic Centre's Advisory Group.


The expansion of the solar energy sector has a considerable influence upon occupational activity and workplaces. If the complete life-cycle of solar installations is considered, from design through to disposal, it becomes clear that even though many of the discrete risks are essentially familiar, they give rise to hazards in new combinations. Such discrete risks include exposure to hazardous chemicals, ergonomic stresses, working at a height, electrical hazards, fire hazards and psychosocial stress. The risks concern employees in a range of sectors. Particular attention must be paid here to non-professional risk groups in relation to private and very smallcommercial systems (home owners, tenants, entrepreneurs, caretakers, etc.).
The risks identified for the solar sector were presented on a factsheet. The IFA also developed a checklist by means of which the most important hazards relevant to OSH can be identified through all product cycles of solar installations. The list contains advice on prevention, and specific examples.
"Europe 2020" is the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade. Its aim is an intelligent, sustainable and integrative economy for Europe. These three priorities are to promote employment, productivity and social cohesion. At the same time, the development of innovative products and materials and the requirement for more responsible use to be made of resources and the environment gives rise to potential new or exacerbated hazards in the form of exposure to biological and chemical agents, to nanomaterials, and mixed exposure.
For these four areas, the IFA has conducted a literature survey and produced an expert report in which it has identified future foci for OSH research and explained the background to them. Examples include: the identification of thresholds of action for carcinogenic and mutagenic substances; the development of toxicity tests and risk-prediction tools for nanomaterials; the study of relationships between microbiological measured data and the incident diseases; the study of toxicology and the mechanisms of action of mixed exposure. These and many other foci of research are part of a comprehensive agency report which is to serve decision-makers as a sound factual basis for the strategic planning of future European OSH-related research.
In the course of development of a Wikipedia-like service on OSH topics, a new article on the topic of mobile IT-supported work was produced.

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Financed by:
  • European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • several OSH-institutes (see IFA0095)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:



Neue Technologien, Arbeitsumwelt (Belastungen, Gefährdungen, Expositionen, Risiken)

Description, key words:

solar energy, risk assessment checklist, risks and hazards, research priorities, EU 2020, chemical hazards, biological hazards

Further information