For the past 25 years, promoting risk assessment has been at the heart of EU-OSHA’s efforts to make Europe’s workplaces safer and healthier. The development of OiRA — the Online interactive Risk Assessment platform — has advanced these efforts enormously. But what is OiRA and how does it benefit businesses, particularly micro and small enterprises (MSEs)?
What is OiRA?
OiRA is a web platform that enables EU-OSHA’s national and EU-level partners — for instance, national occupational safety and health (OSH) authorities and European level employers and employees’ organisations — to create online risk assessment tools. These tools are tailored to specific sectors and national legislative requirements, created in many European languages and then made available to businesses. What’s more, the tools are free, easily accessible online and user friendly, making it possible for any employer, manager or worker to effectively assess and manage OSH risks.
How does OiRA benefit business?
The tools offer a step-by-step approach to risk assessment, guiding the user through the process of identifying workplace risks, implementing preventive actions, and monitoring and reporting the risk assessment and management. By complementing this with relevant knowledge and resources, OiRA allows businesses to effectively and efficiently prevent risks.
The OiRA platform was initially designed with the needs of micro and small enterprises in mind which often lack the resources and know-how to effectively assess and manage OSH risks. However, OiRA is now used by businesses of all sizes, for example by German multinational automotive corporation Daimler AG.
’Daimler’s efforts not only serve to meet its own specific risk assessment needs, but also benefit the wider OiRA community, as the software features developed can be easily adapted and implemented by other organisations, saving time and money. In addition, the use of OiRA by such a large, multinational company raises its profile and reinforces its reputation as an effective risk assessment platform.’EU-OSHA’s Executive Director Dr Sedlatschek
Partnership working is key to OiRA’s success
OiRA was officially launched in September 2011. Since then, the OiRA community has grown and the project has become more and more successful. It is currently made up of 16 national partners, such as national ministries, labour inspectorates and OSH institutes, and 17 European sectoral social partners.
EU sectoral social partners always take a joint approach, including trade unions and employers’ associations. Together they develop tools based on European legislation and agreements. National OiRA partners develop sectoral tools in their language, including links and information to national legislation.
The commitment and cooperation of partners at EU and national levels have been key to OiRA’s success in reaching out to many MSEs across Europe. By the middle of 2019, over 170 risk assessment tools had been developed, covering 68 industry sectors, and more than 90 were in development.
The steady increase of registered users and risk assessments conducted with the tools, show how much OiRA meets the needs of European companies. For some sectors, national OiRA accounts reach around a third of the number of micro and small companies in the respective country/sector (e.g. transport tool in France and hairdressers’ tool in Cyprus).
The perceived value of OiRA among registered users is clear:
- 95 % think the tools meet their needs
- 96 % would recommend the tools to others.
EU-OSHA is not only working on promoting OiRA but recognises the value of online risk assessment tools in general. A network of national partners who developed their own online tools has been set up. The IRAT network (Interactive Risk Assessment Tools) network brings together the OiRA community with European national partners who developed their own free online risk assessment tool.
OiRA has been, and will continue to be, integral to our efforts to reach out to MSEs and other businesses and improve their OSH management by making risk assessment easy, even for companies with very limited resources.
In the words of EU-OSHA’s Director, Dr Christa Sedlatschek, ‘the key concept is prevention, prevention, prevention!’