Focus

Focus Archive

Latest trends on occupational safety at international conference

May 2006

"Accidents will be reduced by 40% through new safety culture on the workplace" and "Occupational accidents will be reduced by 30 till 40 percent if we change the company culture," states Joy Oh, policymaker of the Dutch ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. He is one of the organizers of the international networking conference on occupational safety, from 12 - 15 September 2006 in The Netherlands. Leading scientists, decision makers and safety professionals will present the latest trends for occupational safety: a new safety culture and less laws and rules.

For the first time the Netherlands will show an unique quantitative risk model for workers which uncovers the causes of accidents.

"For a long time prevention and technical security were the leading strategies to reduce occupational accidents. Which - as a consequence - created technical laws and rules and control systems. Till we reached the point that the number of accidents were not reduced any longer. Nowadays the company culture, organisation and the costs of safety are much more important to reduce accidents.

Occupational safety costs money and it has to be spend deliberately. Therefore instruments that make decisions easier, are of great value. Companies want to know which decisions to make and if the costs are worth it.

This also leads to less laws and rules about occupational safety. Prescriptive legislation was so overwhelming that maintenance of these rules became difficult. Now, companies have more freedom to take their own decisions", says Oh.

Safety culture

"Dangerous work can cause accidents. But companies can reduce the likelihood by creating a good culture. This includes for example that employees know what to do, keep an eye on each other and aren't afraid to talk to one other about each other behaviour. They must feel free to report unsafe situations or nearly accidents. Companies with this culture show great improvements. Accidents will reduce by 30 to 40% or even 60 to 80%. Changing the safety culture requires commitment on both sides: management and employees. Culture will change by good consultation and training," says Oh. In order to support companies to achieve this, the ministry has started an intensive program.

Risk model

Besides of the company culture analyses are important that uncover the causes of accidents. By order of the Dutch ministry of Social Affairs and Employment an international consortium of leading scientists have developed a so called quantitative occupational risk model.

This model is based upon a unique study of 9000 occupational accidents, which were investigated by the Labour Inspectorate. "Never before, such an extensive study of the underlying causes of incidents was undertaken", says Oh. "The new model will help companies to point out the risks and to take action to reduce accidents. The model will be presented at the conference."

Network conference

The main purpose of the conference is to exchange knowledge and experiences in the field of working on safety. And - last but not least - to meet colleagues from all over the world who are concerned with the same issues. The conference takes place at 'De Eemhof', a business conference centre (and holiday park) not far from the international airport Amsterdam-Schiphol.

The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Joy Oh) and the Delft University of Technology (professor Andrew Hale) organize the conference in cooperation with an international committee on which both the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work are represented.

The conference language will be English. The price for accommodation and registration will be about 1100 Euro.

For specific questions about the content of the conference: Joy Oh, +31 70 333 5499 or Peter van Beek, +31 70 333 5500 | Email: arbeidsveiligheid@minszw.nl.

For questions about registration, accommodation et cetera: Claudia Wouters of ATP, + 31 70 3766 733 | Email: wos2006@atp.nl