ESENER-1 Methodology

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Universe and unit of analysis

The statistical population comprises all establishments that have ten or more employees in the 31 participating countries, covering all sectors of economic activity except for agriculture, forestry and fishing (NACE A), households (NACE T) and extraterritorial organisations (NACE U). The relevant statistical unit of analysis is the establishment, defined as comprising the activities of a single employer at a single set of premises (e.g. a single branch of a bank, a car factory or a school).

The 31 participating countries comprise all 27 European Member States, as well as two Candidate Countries (Croatia and Turkey), and two EFTA countries (Norway and Switzerland).


In each establishment surveyed, the highest-ranking manager responsible for health and safety at work is interviewed. Additionally, an interview with the workers' health and safety representative is carried out in those establishments where a management interview has been completed; there exists a formally designated representative with specific responsibility for the safety and health of workers; and permission for the interview has been granted by the management respondent.

Sampling strategy

In order to ensure that the survey results are cross-nationally comparable, it is essential that the sampling strategy result in the same type of units being surveyed in each country. The quality of the available address registers varies across the participating countries in terms of coverage (especially the sectors of activity included) and in terms of the availability and accuracy of the necessary background information (such as the sector of activity and number of employees). Existing address registers are not cross-nationally comparable, therefore considerable efforts have been made to build samples that provide the necessary quality and ensure cross-national comparability. This work has been carried out in collaboration with the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions(Eurofound).

Stratification of the sample is based on a matrix of two groups of sectors ("Producing Industries" and "Service Sector") and five size classes (10-19 employees, 20-49, 50-199, 200-499, and 500+ employees) and follows the sampling strategy used by Eurofound in its establishment surveys.

Questionnaire development

Two English language master versions: management representative questionnaire[1] and worker representative questionnaire[2] were developed by a team comprising experts in survey design and in occupational safety and health (particularly psychosocial risks), together with EU-OSHA staff. In addition, a tripartite Advisory Group comprising members of EU-OSHA's Governing Board and Bureau played an important role in identifying useful questions from the perspective of the Agency's stakeholders.

As part of the development process, draft questionnaires were translated for a qualitative pilot in UK, Netherlands and Germany. Subsequently, an extensive quantitative pilot was carried out, involving management interviews and employee representative interviews in each of eight countries (Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Finland and United Kingdom).

The second edition the Europe-wide survey of enterprises, ESENER-2 was carried out in 2014 and collected responses from almost 50,000 enterprises. The survey covered establishments with five or more employees in 36 participating countries. More information can be found in ESENER-2 Methodology.


Different national versions of the questionnaire have been developed for each of the countries covered by the survey (access the questionnaires in the table below). These take account not only of the languages spoken in each country, but also of work-related practices such as worker representation or labour inspection, which require different questions and terminology.

An optimal translation strategy is essential to ensure that each national version of the questionnaire comprises high-quality questions that can be directed plausibly at all types of enterprise within the country concerned and generates information that can be compared cross-nationally.

The basic steps included in the translation strategy adopted by ESENER are:

  1. A first high-quality translation of the English language master questionnaire into each destination language by translators who are native speakers of the target language
  2. Checking of the translations by the national fieldwork institutes and adaptation to specific country versions where the language is used by several countries (e.g. Austrian, German, Luxembourgish and Swiss versions of the German language questionnaire)
  3. Checking of the national versions by native-language occupational safety and health experts
  4. Back-translation of national language versions into English by different translators and independent cross-checking with the English language master version.

Additionally, the national versions are checked by EU-OSHA's Focal Points and the Survey Expert Group to ensure that the terminology and questions are appropriate for that country's work-related practices.

Geographical name Sample size Interview languages
Austria 1000 German
Belgium 1000 Flemish


Bulgaria 500 Bulgarian
Cyprus 500 Greek
Czech Republic 1000 Czech
Denmark 1000 Danish
Estonia 500 Estonian


Finland 1000 Finnish


France 1500 French
Germany 1500 German
Greece 1000 Greek
Hungary 1000 Hungarian
Ireland 500 English
Italy 1500 Italian
Latvia 500 Latvian


Lithuania 500 Lithuanian
Luxembourg 500 Luxembourgish




Malta 300 Maltese


Netherlands 1000 Dutch
Poland 1500 Polish
Portugal 1000 Portuguese
Romania 500 Romanian
Slovakia 500 Slovak
Slovenia 500 Slovene
Spain 1500 Spanish
Sweden 1000 Swedish
United Kingdom 1500 English
Croatia 500 Croatian
Turkey 1500 Turkish
Norway 950 Norwegian
Switerland 1000 French




Tender specifications

EU-OSHA published tender specifications[3] to carry out the ESENER survey as part of an open call on 21st August 2007.

Support letter

Letters setting out the background and aims of the survey and the support from social partners were produced in all survey languages with the aim encouraging interviewees who were undecided whether to participate in the survey.

Project team

Project team sheet[4]

Technical reports

  • European Survey on New and Emerging Risks - Psychosocial Risks (ESENER-PSR 2009) - Technical Report[5]
  • Ex-post evaluation of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks[6]
  • ESENER Sampling Report 2009[7]

Further information for researchers

The full ESENER dataset is accessible via the UK Data Archive (UKDA) of the University of Essex at To access data files, users are first required to register with UKDA. Information on the registration procedure is available here at For any query about registration or data access, please contact

The archive also provides access to survey documentation and guidance for data users. Users are recommended to read supplementary supporting documentation on the methodology provided on this web site before working with the data. Terms and conditions for the use of data are available at

Please note that all works which use or refer to ESENER should acknowledge its source by means of bibliographic citation in footnotes or in the reference section of publications. Similarly, any publication, whether printed, electronic, or broadcast, based wholly or partly on ESENER should acknowledge the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the UK Data Archive. It should also carry a statement that EU-OSHA and the UK Data Archive bear no responsibility for their further analysis or interpretation.

Further reading

  1. Management Representative Questionnaire File:ESENER MM final 20090219.pdf
  2. Worker Representative Questionnaire File:ESENER ER final 20090219.pdf
  3. ESENER Tender Specifications File:Tender specifications ESENER.pdf
  4. Project team sheet File:Project team ESENER.pdf
  5. Technical Report File:Technical Report EUOSHA.pdf
  6. Ex-post evaluation of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging File:Ex-post evaluation of Esener.pdf
  7. ESENER Sampling Report File:ESENER-Sampling-Report-2009.pdf