Challenges of the Health and Safety study in the NOVUM project

In the NOVUM project, as in any business, a commitment to Health and Safety (H&S) matters is one of the best practices to protect the greater resource involved: people. Over the last decades, the focus on Occupational H&S (OH&S) has contributed significantly to saving thousands of lives. OH&S has been improved substantially and the workplace has become safer (Hofmann et al., 2017). However, there are still too many incidents and accidents in the workplace that must be covered and controlled.

As reported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are currently more than 2.78 million deaths a year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases, in addition to 374 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses (ILO, 2018). In 2017, according to the administrative data collection exercise of European statistics on accidents at work (ESAW), 3,552 fatal accidents and approximately 3.3 million non-fatal accidents requiring at least 4 days of absence from work were reported in EU Member States (Eurostat, 2019).

Despite many advances, the workforce is often faced with new risks and the burden of occupational injuries and diseases stay significant. Improvements in the broader safety culture of organizations, the use of personal protective equipment, technological advancements, and work design changes have led to valuable signs of progress (Hofmann et al., 2017). These advances have been promoted by a solid European legal framework covering a high number of risks with the minimum number of regulations (European Commission, 2020).

To enhance and improve the protection of the millions of workers in the EU from work-related accidents and diseases, the European Commission (EC) has adopted the general OH&S “Framework directive” together with further individual directives focusing on specific aspects of health and safety at work (Schulz, 2019). OH&S legislation is an essential part of the process to manage organizations and companies. However, legislation is not the only way of securing OH&S. Companies also have the possibility to implement an OH&S management system following dedicated standards, in a voluntary approach. An OH&S management system guides the safety conditions for workplaces and the health of the employees working in these areas. Measurement of an OH&S management system performance in a company is crucial, mainly because the firm’s perspective about it is directly related to the workers’ health (İnan et al., 2017).

According to the Executive Director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), successful management of OH&S starts with a general assessment of the risks involved (EU-OSHA, 2012). In this sense, under the framework of OH&S risks management in NOVUM, an H&S study will be performed to provide a review of the legislation on H&S issues related to the pilot line developed in the project. The main objective of this study is to identify the working conditions hazards to: i) remove the avoidable risks; ii) evaluate the immediately no-avoidable risks, and iii) propose correction measures. The H&S study will consider both processes and final products’ issues. It will be addressed towards the knowledge and understanding of health and safety matters, which might potentially affect people and infrastructure involved in the proposed processes. This analysis will include: the equipment, chemical products, emissions, and other aspects that might be detected.

European Commission. (2020). The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/deeper-and-fairer-economic-and-monetary-union/european-pillar-social-rights/european-pillar-social-rights-20-principles_en.

Eurostat. (2019). Accidents at work statistics – Statistics Explained. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Accidents_at_work_statistics#Number_of_accidents.

EU-OSHA. (2012). Management of occupational safety and health An Analysis of the findings of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) European Risk Observ atory Report. https://doi.org/10.2802/90924.

Hofmann, D. A., Burke, M. J., & Zohar, D. (2017). 100 years of occupational safety research: From basic protections and work analysis to a multilevel view of workplace safety and risk. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 375–388. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000114.

ILO. (2018). Safety and health at work. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang–en/index.htm.

İnan, U. H., Gül, S., & Yılmaz, H. (2017). A multiple attribute decision model to compare the firms’ occupational health and safety management perspectives. Safety Science, 91, 221–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2016.08.018.

Schulz, S. (2019). Health and safety at work – Fact Sheets on the European Union – European Parliament. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/factsheets/en/sheet/56/health-and-safety-at-work.

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