European Risk Observatory
The aim of EU-OSHA’s European Risk Observatory (ERO) is to identify new and emerging risks in occupational safety and health, in order to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of preventive measures.
To achieve this aim, the ERO provides an overview of safety and health at work in Europe, describes the trends and underlying factors, and anticipates changes in work and their likely impact on occupational safety and health.
As our society evolves under the influence of new technology and shifting economic and social conditions, our workplaces, work practices and processes are constantly changing. These new situations bring with them new risks and challenges for workers and employers, which in turn demand political, administrative and technical approaches that ensure high levels of safety and health at work.
Effective prevention can make an important contribution to the overall Europe 2020 objective of achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, as well as increasing the employment rate from 69 to 75 per cent. Many people drop out of the labour market because of poor occupational safety and health, so better risk anticipation is essential if we are to improve risk prevention and achieve sustainable working lives and higher employment rates.
Successive European strategies on health and safety at work have identified the need to prepare for these new circumstances, and emphasised that:
'anticipating new and emerging risks, whether they be linked to technical innovation or caused by social change, is vital if the risks are to be brought under control.
This requires, first and foremost, ongoing observation of the risks themselves, based on the systematic collection of information and scientific opinions.' (Community Strategy on health and safety at work 2002-2006)
This strategy’s call on EU-OSHA to set up a European Risk Observatory to carry out these tasks was followed by the next Community Strategy 2007-2012, which emphasised the importance of risk anticipation, and asked the Agency’s Observatory to take on a range of initiatives.
The latest European strategy, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020, continues this theme with a call to support the findings of the European Risk Observatory.
How the European Risk Observatory works
The ERO adds value by gathering and analysing information, putting it in context (in particular in relation to the European social agenda and the Community Strategy), looking for trends in order to 'anticipate change', and communicating the key issues effectively to our target audience: policy-makers and researchers. We also aim to stimulate debate and reflection among EU-OSHA's stakeholders and to provide a platform for debate between experts and policy-makers at various levels.
The information needed to identify new and emerging risks may come from a variety of sources, such as data from official registers, the research literature, expert forecasts or survey data. To cover all these potential sources of information, we organise our activities around three basic areas: