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07/11/2019

Connecting people during the European Week to protect workers from dangerous substances

This edition of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work (21-25 October) saw a wide range of events, from public info points to awareness-raising conferences. EU-OSHA’s network of focal points, campaign partners, workers and employers all came together to share ideas and raise awareness of the importance of managing dangerous substances and creating healthy workplaces for all.

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Leaving a campaign legacy

With the Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign coming to a close, many focal points used the week to wrap up their own national campaigns, reflect on the successes of the past 2 years, and promote a lasting legacy by encouraging companies to develop a prevention culture.

In Greece, the focus was on raising awareness of the negative impact that dangerous substances can have on workers’ quality of life and ability to work. Meanwhile, at a conference in Lithuania, attendees learnt about practical solutions to efficiently manage dangerous substances and were shown good practice examples of risk assessment and management from several Baltic companies.

Closing events also took place in Cyprus, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Belgium – which all showcased a wide range of activities implemented and advocated for long-term sustainable prevention actions in the field of dangerous substances.

The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), another key partner of the Healthy Workplaces campaign, presented the EEN OSH Promotion Award at its annual conference in Helsinki, Finland. The award was handed to the Italian EEN OSH ambassador in recognition of their excellent work in promoting occupational safety and health to micro and small enterprises during the campaign.

Spreading the prevention message

In Spain alone, over 40 events took place in 29 cities promoting measures to prevent workers’ exposure to dangerous substances, including a special focus on substitution. Meanwhile in Portugal, a 3-day info point took place where visitors could learn about the prevalence of dangerous substances and the risks they pose. They also got the chance to meet safety hero Napo and take part in a quiz about risk assessment and management.

Prevention strategies also formed the basis of a good practice exchange event in Croatia. There was a special focus on the safe transportation and storage of chemicals to avoid hazardous spill incidents and prevent diseases related to harmful exposures, and guidance was offered on inspection controls, proper supervision and documentation procedures when working with dangerous substances.

Finally, an event in Iceland presented the Icelandic version of the dangerous substances e-tool. The tool provides companies with an overview of the health hazards associated with dangerous substances and chemical products found in their workplaces. Country versions are also available for Portugal and Norway, with more to follow soon.

Creating a media buzz

The European Week caused quite a stir in the media, so far generating over 1,400 social media posts and more than 50 pieces of coverage in the online press. Many took the opportunity to post event images and spread campaign-related information on EU-OSHA’s Twitter channel and dedicated Facebook page.

The campaign is not over yet, so be sure to check the events page to find out what is happening near you. There is also the Healthy Workplaces Summit taking place on 12-13 November in Bilbao. If you can’t make it then don’t fear – the event will be livestreamed, so you can follow all the action and expert discussion reflecting on the full 2 years of the campaign. In the meantime, keep sharing the free campaign resources with your network and follow the latest updates on the campaign website and Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (#EUhealthyworkplaces).