Owing to the influence of new technologies and changes in economic, social and demographic conditions, occupational exposure to health and accident hazards is in a constant state of flux. In this context, the European Union's common strategy for 2002-2006 required the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work to set up a European observatory for occupational risks, and to identify emerging risks. The function of the observatory for occupational risks is that of detecting, assessing and documenting changes and of developing new methods with which emerging risks can be detected specifically and systematically.
In a consortium of seven OH&S institutes from the EU Member States, the BG Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BGIA) assumed particular tasks in the observation of trends in occupational accidents and diseases and work-related health hazards in selected European countries. The focus of the BGIA's activity were the areas of noise, young employees, disorders of the musculoskeletal system, lifting and posture, stress, vibration, skin problems, human-machine interaction, UV radiation, and migrant workers. Comprehensive monographs (reports) on chemical and biological risks and on human, social and organizational factors will be produced under the institute's overall control. For this purpose, the Delphi surveys (surveys of experts concerning emerging risks with formation of a consensus between the experts) conducted within BGIA Project 0078 "Topic Centre Research - Work and Health: Design and implementation of an information system for emerging risks and monitoring systems in occupational safety and health" were assessed, and comprehensive literature surveys were summarized for the six main risks. In addition, the chief risks identified by the Delphi studies were analyzed in further projects at European level, and prevention measures were assessed.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has published most of the results of BGIA Project 0086 (Topic Centre ? Risk Observatory) in printed form; these reports are however also available for download from the Agency's website. They relate to the following OSH topics: young employees, skin diseases, vibration, and migrants. In addition, the results of consultations with experts concerning emerging physical, biological and psychosocial health risks have been published. The report on physical risks was published in 2005 by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (see below). Reports on the following OSH subjects will appear shortly: consultation of experts concerning emerging chemical health risks, human-machine interfaces, musculoskeletal disorders caused by the combination of physiological and mental risk factors, violence and bullying at the workplace, and maintenance.
Besides these, research studies of physical, biological, chemical and psychosocial risks at the workplace have been added to the databases of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. The subjects involved include: vibration, skin diseases and skin exposure, UV radiation, and migration. In addition, the BGIA was responsible for collecting current studies and information on chemical, biological, physical, psychosocial and organizational risks, which were then published on the website of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Statistical data were also recorded on various subjects (diseases of the respiratory tract, waste management, hotels, restaurants and catering, ageing of the workforce, vibration, stress, young employees, skin diseases, musculoskeletal diseases and agriculture).
Besides the numerous publications, the results were presented at conferences and discussed in workshops for experts.
The results from the project are being incorporated into the EU Strategy on OSH.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
questions beyond hazard-related issuesCatchwords:
risk assessmentDescription, key words:
risk observatory for occupational risks, emerging risks, chemical risks, biological risks, physical risks, psychosocial and organizational risks, young workers, MSD, lifting and posture, stress, vibration, noise, skin diseases, agriculture, observation of trends in occupational accidents and work-related diseases, human-machine interface, UV radiation, migrant workers
BIA-Project 0078: Topic Centre Research - Work and Health