The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) contributes to making Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work. The Agency researches, develops, and distributes reliable, balanced, and impartial safety and health information and organises pan-European awareness raising campaigns. Set up by the European Union in 1994 and based in Bilbao, Spain, the Agency brings together representatives from the European Commission, Member State governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, as well as leading experts in each of the EU Member States and beyond.
Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards highlight examples of managing dangerous substances in the workplace
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) announces awarded and commended examples of organisations that take an innovative approach to successfully tackling the risks posed by dangerous substances, as part of its 14th Good Practice Awards competition. The awards recognise organisations with an outstanding commitment to occupational safety and health (OSH) and promote practices that protect workers and boost productivity.
The 2018-19 competition is a key part of EU-OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign. Dr Christa Sedlatschek, EU-OSHA’s Executive Director, commented on the merit of the awards: ‘We are delighted to see so many strong and varied examples of good occupational safety and health practice in the context of managing dangerous substances. The winning examples are from enterprises and organisations of a wide variety of sizes and from various sectors, all with a common goal: to create a culture of prevention and protect workers from dangerous substances.’
Six organisations were awarded:
- the Czech pharmaceutical company VAKOS XT, a.s., which worked with the Ministry of the Interior to develop a programme of measures to protect public service personnel from exposure to illegal narcotics during police actions in illegal drug laboratories, etc.;
- Eiffage Infrastructures, a large French company in the road construction and maintenance sector that developed a new technique to completely eliminate the use of hazardous solvents in its analytical laboratories;
- the German Federal Association of Glazier Trades, which developed and facilitated the implementation of a safe and economical technique for the handling of asbestos-containing materials;
- Peluquería Elvira, a small hairdressing and beauty salon that eliminated hazardous substances and also transformed working conditions in other salons throughout Spain;
- Atlas Copco Industrial Technique AB, a manufacturing company from Sweden that fostered a culture of participation and collaboration and implemented collective measures to protect workers from potentially hazardous carbon nanotubes;
- a small farming business in the Netherlands, Mansholt BV, that, in collaboration with the national sectoral body for OSH, implemented a range of technical and organisational measures to protect workers from hazardous dust.
A further four organisations were commended: the Vienna Ombuds Office for Environmental Protection, Austria; the construction company BAM Ireland, Ireland; Gorenje, d.d., a Slovenian manufacturing company; and the British Occupational Hygiene Society, United Kingdom.
Entries were first judged at national level and up to two winners from each country were nominated for the pan-European competition. The European jury looked at how good practices were implemented, how risk assessment was carried out and how the STOP principle was followed — that is, how a hierarchical approach to prevention, prioritising substitution, followed by technical, organisational and, finally, personal protective measures, was taken. The jury also considered whether or not interventions lead to real and demonstrable improvements in OSH through a holistic approach involving worker participation and the commitment of management. The interventions selected are sustainable over time, transferable to other organisations or Member States, and go above and beyond national legislative requirements.
To celebrate these organisations’ contributions to improving safety and health and to raise awareness of the good practices implemented, each of the awarded organisations will receive a trophy and each of the commended organisations will receive a certificate at a special ceremony at the Healthy Workplaces Summit in Bilbao in November.