Focus

Focus Archive

Two reports from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work warning about dangers in the workplace

March 2009

Occupational skin diseases and dermal exposure and Workplace exposure to vibration in Europe

A new report on occupational skin diseases has been issued by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, analysing European Union (EU) policies and practices. Report findings include guidelines and recommendations, collective actions and programmes along with good practice examples for preventive measures.

Skin diseases represent 13.6% of all occupational illnesses in Europe and are one of the most important emerging risks related to the exposure to chemical, physical and biological substances.

Frequency and seriousness depend very much on the country, sector of activity and type of profession. Forty per cent of all cases were registered in the manufacturing sector, followed by construction with 12.5% and health and social work with 10.7% respectively.

Although the Member States have implemented central EU directives regarding the skin contact to dangerous substances, no standard dermal exposure limits have been established at EU level yet. Skin diseases rank highly in incidence lists, but only some countries indicate that assessing and preventing them is a priority. Consequently, there is a clear need for effective evaluation and registration standards, but also a common European framework of criteria for occupational diseases.

Effective prevention of skin diseases requires a combination of technical, organisational and medical measures to eliminate or minimise the skin's exposure to risk factors.

Employers need to take on the responsibility and identify possible danger at each workstation and make employees actively aware of the physical, biological or chemical risks.

Read the report on occupational skin diseases: http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/TE7007049ENC_skin_diseases/view

Workplace exposure to vibration in Europe: an expert review

One in three European workers is exposed to vibrations at work and for some sectors, such as construction at 63%, this figure is much higher. Although vibration is a long-standing and well-known risk, its importance has increased since the application of the vibration directive (2002/44/EC), which came into force on 6th July 2005. Enterprises, regulators and legislators face new challenges; measurement is complicated and risk assessment and reduction are not simple. This report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work brings together specialists from eight leading European institutes to produce an overview of the challenges facing the occupational safety and health community as regards management of occupational vibration risks. The situation in six Member States - Belgium, Germany, Spain, Finland, France and Poland - is examined, and research information is presented covering all Member States.

Read the report on workplace exposure to vibration: http://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/8108322_vibration_exposure/view

European Risk Observatory: http://osha.europa.eu/en/riskobservatory