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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Focus Archive

Do you know what occupational health and safety information you need to do your job?

August 2012

Some people would say an immediate "yes" whilst others may be stopped in their tracks and give some thought to what they know and perhaps wonder what else they need to know.

As an example, according to Risk perception and risk communication with regard to nanomaterials in the workplace - a new literature review from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) - there are serious gaps in our awareness of the potential risks involved in handling nanomaterials at work, and serious shortcomings in the way that those risks are communicated to workplaces.

So directors, managers, supervisors, trainers and the workforce need to be constantly assessing the question "Do you know what occupational health and safety information you need to do your job?" and find solutions that are up-to date, understandable at all levels, and easy to access.

Training as mentioned in the month's Editorial is one way, and certainly having easy access to occupational safety, health, environment, risk and fire information is the other essential ingredient. Do not rely on your neighbour for answers unless you know that they are up-to-date WITH THEIR KNOWLEDGE!

But much more still needs to be done (preferably jointly by policymakers, the social partners, national occupational safety and health bodies, public health agencies, sectoral associations, etc.) as poor risk communication may generate confusion and lead to unjustified fears or to underestimation of the risks, with consequent inadequate risk prevention and control.

Risk communication strategies and training need to help employers make informed decisions about their workplaces and put adequate prevention measures in place, and to empower individual workers to take personal control of their own situations in order to protect themselves adequately.

Having easy access to collections of validated and authoritative information such as OSH UPDATE and FIREINF is surely a FIRST ESSENTIAL STEP. See below for more details.

See also a PowerPoint presentation on risk communication (English).