Online Interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA)

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Introduction

The European Community Strategy on Health and Safety at Work 2007-2012 called for the development of simple tools to facilitate risk assessment. In 2009, the Agency began work on developing and promoting such a practical risk assessment tool for micro and small enterprises building on a successful Dutch initiative.

The EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 launched in June 2014 calls for “providing financial and technical support on implementing OiRA and other IT-based tools in order to facilitate compliance with OSH legislation, particularly by micro and small enterprises…”.

OiRA is a web application (tools generator[1]) to create interactive risk assessment tools (OiRA tools[2]). These OiRA tools can help micro and small organisations to put in place a risk assessment process – starting with the identification and evaluation of workplace risks, through decision making on preventive actions and the taking of action, to monitoring and reporting.

An OiRA tool remains just a tool. Its real potential to make a significant contribution to improving occupational safety and health in Europe’s workplaces lies as much in its development and diffusion model as in its technical characteristics.

The tools are designed to be developed by:

  • Sectoral Social Partners at EU or national level (employers’ and employees’ organisations).
  • EU/National authority (Ministries, Labour Inspectorates, OSH institutes, etc.)

More information about the OiRA project (partners, tools published and under development, etc.) is available on the OiRA website.

Mission and objectives

The mission of OiRA is to develop and disseminate practical risk assessment tools tailored to the specificities and needs of micro and small enterprises in Europe. EU-OSHA offers the OiRA tools generator to national/public authorities and sectoral social partners (whether at EU or national level) and encourages them to build sectoral risk assessment tools tailored to micro and small enterprises. The Agency also fosters the use of the OiRA sectoral tools by ensuring good promotion/dissemination and implementation, i.e. developing a diffusion strategy and an OiRA Community which empowers social partners, among others, to promote and support the uptake by small and micro businesses in their specific sectors.

OiRA has objectives on different levels:

At macro level (Agency/EU level):

  • To encourage sectors (social dialogue at EU/Member state level) to develop, implement and keep updated sectoral specific OiRA tools (‘output).
  • To set up an OiRA Community (stimulating exchanges of experiences, content, … among the members of the Community) (‘output).
  • To encourage EU social partners to develop OiRA tools for their sectors (to stimulate OSH projects at EU social dialogue) (‘output).
  • To increase the number of micro and small enterprises in Europe assessing and managing their occupational risks (result)
  • To contribute (by proper risk assessment) to decrease the number of occupational accidents and diseases and improve working conditions (impact)
  • To increase OSH awareness in general among micro and small enterprises by using OiRA.

In addition, as complementary objectives:

  • To help (by proper risk assessment) enterprises become more competitive (from cutting costs arising from occupation accidents and illness, reducing rates of sick leave, …).
  • To help Member States in their task of putting at the disposal of micro and small organizations practical tools to assess the risks.

At meso level (National Authorities/ social partners):

  • To develop, implement and keep updated simple risk assessment tools intended for micro and small organisations (for their members, affiliates, …).
  • To put practical OiRA tools at the disposal of micro and small organisations through their websites.
  • To contribute to the national objective of reducing the number of occupational diseases and accidents and absenteeism by putting at the disposal of the enterprises the OiRA tools.
  • To (re)develop OSH-support for enterprises in connection with the provision of the sectoral OiRA tools.

Micro-level (companies in the sector)

  • To ensure the health and safety of workers (general duty of employers/enterprises) by applying the OiRA tools.
  • Benefit from the sector specific risk assessment tools always kept up to date, easy to apply and validated by social partners and/or national authorities.
  • To apply the sector specific tools at company/at shop floor level (the employer assesses the risks, carries out the action plan, adjusts it regularly, re-prioritises and takes action).
  • To improve working conditions by using the tools to assess their occupational risks and thus improving the performance of the companies.

Product/Service Description

Background

The OiRA tools generator and the OiRA tools interface are based on the Dutch RA-instrument (called RI&E - ‘Risico-Inventarisatie- en Evaluatie-instrumenten’), which, financed by the Dutch government, was initially developed by TNO in collaboration with the employers’ organisation for SMEs (MKB-Nederland) and the Dutch Ministry for Employment. Further development of the RI&E instrument was realised with input and participation of the trade unions FNV, CNV and MHP.

The RI&E was put at the disposal of the Agency with the idea to internationalise it: to give the opportunity to Member States and social partners at EU and at national level to benefit from it. More information about the RI&E project is available on the RI&E website and on the OiRA website.

Key features

The OiRA tools generator

The project is based on the so-called “OiRA tools generator”. National authorities/social partners interested in developing their own OiRA tool are given access to this web-based tools generator, which is a Content Management System based on Plone 4.

  • The source code of the tools generator is GPL licensed (open source code) and is managed by EU-OSHA. Free and open-source software is software that is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to use, study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.
  • The tools generator (and all tools created through it) are hosted on a single installation owned and managed by EU-OSHA through contractors. EU-OSHA ensures proper functioning of the hosting hardware, internet bandwidth, maintenance and periodic upgrades.
  • The tools generator is made available with the current existing features and design. A web feature will allow the sector organisation to display his logo on the tool it has developed. Any additional feature/design customisation proposed by content developers has to be agreed on with EU-OSHA.

The OiRA tool

For the end-user:

  • It is free, web-based and interactive
  • It is a practical tool, adapted to the specificities of its sector, allowing to assess its occupational risks
  • It includes:
    • Modules and “risk statements” allowing the identification of hazards;
    • Automatic action plans including: hazards, actions, sorting on priority, person in charge, deadlines; updateable status, …;.
    • Automatic generation of:
      • a report documenting the outcomes of the risk assessment, and
      • an action plan
    • It can provide solutions to the risks/problems identified
  • It is delivered with a “help” function embedded in the tool itself
  • It can be used with a smartphone

OiRA tools published are available here.

The OiRA community

The OiRA community is made up of the organisations/people developing OiRA tools. It aims to facilitate the development of OiRA tools by stimulating the exchange of tools, knowledge and good practice, promoting collaborative work, reinforcing existing relationships within the community and creating new ones.

The members of the OiRA community share the same values:

  • putting practical risk assessment tools at the disposal of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) free of charge
  • supporting MSEs to properly assess their occupational risks and by this way improving their working conditions

Main benefits

Main Benefits for the Agency intermediaries

Features Benefits
OiRA tools generator includes extensive wizards, online help and manuals OiRA tools generator is easy-to-use and well-supported
The OiRA project includes a diffusion model Developers of OiRA tools are invited from the beginning of the project to think about the dissemination of their tool(s). This diffusion model is supported by practical experiences/case studies.
The OiRA project includes a promotion model Developers of OiRA tools are invited from the beginning of the project to think about the promotion of the tool.
OiRA is hosted in Agency´s servers They do not have to worry about the hosting of the tools
Developers can link to their OiRA tool(s) directly from their own websites The access to the OiRA tools can be displayed in the national authorities/social partners website

Main Benefits for the end-users

Features Benefits
Free, web-based, interactive Easy-to-use tool, well supported and FREE
Tool adapted to the specificities of the sectors End-users will not have to deal with non relevant issues (questions not linked to their sectors)
Tool updated (organisations developing the tool commit themselves to keep the tool updated) End-users will have the guarantee to know that the tool is regularly updated
Possibility to use smartphone End-users can assess their risks by walking around their working environment

Development/Promotion Strategy

As far as the “target audiences” are concerned, it is important to make the difference between the Agency intermediaries (national authorities and social partners at EU or MS level) and the end-users (micro and small enterprises/organizations). The Agency puts all efforts in reaching intermediaries and encouraging them to take part in the OiRA project. It would then be the intermediaries´ task, to develop and promote the tool at national level and to make sure that the national implementation is functioning well.

Agency Intermediaries

National authorities and social partners will be the ones developing the specific OiRA tools. Among the Agency intermediaries we have:

  • The 28 EU member states + Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein + candidate countries
  • Public OSH institutions
  • The 43 officially recognized sectors of activity at EU social dialogue
  • The social partners at Member State Level
  • EU OSH projects (joint action ,…) provided that these projects are in line with the OiRA philosophy/target audience (for free for the end-uses, focus on micro and small companies, …)

Bottom-up strategy – from national level to a European approach

Social partners/Ministries/Public Institutions at Member State level develop their tool and organisations/people interested in OiRA at Member State level are invited to manifest their interest in the tool through the FOPs-national network.

At this stage of the project, 16 Member States are already involved in the project and four others (who developed their own interactive risk assessment tools) are also collaborating with EU-OSHA (and the OiRA community) through the Interactive Risk Assessment Tools network (sharing information, good practice, experience and promoting IRA tools). More information about the IRAT network is available on the OiRA website.

Top-down strategy – from a European approach down to national level

EU-OSHA promotes the tool at EU level and puts at the disposal of the EU social partners the OiRA tool generator and related information (guides, …).

EU social partners from one specific sector develop the “EU sectoral tool” (for instance, in English with references to EU legislation) and social partners at Member State level are invited to adapt the tool at national level (language, legislation).

Organisations/people interested in OiRA at EU sectoral social dialogue level are invited to contact directly EU-OSHA.

There are currently 43 sectors of activity officially recognized in the framework of the EU social dialogue. So far (October 2014) 5 EU sectoral tools have been produced.

End-users: Micro and Small Enterprises

Among the final end-users we potentially have 19.39 million micro and small enterprises in EU 27.

The number of potential end-users is huge considering the figures included in the table below.

Total SMEs Micro Small Medium Large
Number of enterprises (millions) 19.65 19.60 18.04 1.35 0.21 0.04
Share in total (%) 100 99.8 91.8 6.9 1.1 0.2
Persons employed (millions) 126.7 85.0 37.5 26.1 21.3 41.7
Share in total (%) 100 67.1 29.6 20.6 16.8 32.9

Key indicators for enterprises in the non-financial business economy, EU27, 2005[3]

OiRA Communications Strategy & Implementation

In the risk assessment of the OiRA project, the “low take up of the tool by end-users” (micro and small companies) has been considered as a “high risk” for the project. So, to reach micro and small companies (basically to ensure that they know about the existence of the OiRA tools) and then to invite/encourage/convince micro and small companies to use them is a top priority for the project. For this reason it is important to set up a comprehensive OiRA promotion / diffusion strategy at two levels:

  • EU-OSHA level
    • Promote the OiRA project as a whole / at European level
    • Support the OiRA partners in their task of promoting the sectoral/national tools
  • OiRA partners level
    • Promote the OiRA tools at national / sectoral level

Because the OiRA partners play a crucial role in the task of promoting the tools among the end-users, the Communications Strategy document[4] focuses on supporting and implementing promotion of tools by tool developers/partners to end-users. OiRA partners are encouraged to set up their own (national / sectoral) OiRA promotion strategy by using the information / resources included in this document. The E-fact 77- OiRA promotion and implementation strategy[5] is also intended to the OiRA partners to help them in this task.

Conclusions

The OiRA project is the first initiative at EU level to encourage European micro and small-sized enterprises (mainly via Member States and social partners at EU and at Member State level) to assess their risks by putting at their disposal a risk assessment tool meeting the following features:

  • free of charge
  • available online
  • easily accessible
  • sector specific
  • targeted and,
  • with the aim of including jargon free information (by involving the organizations representing the activity sectors and end-users in its development).

This project tries to meet:

  • the existing need at Member State level to develop practical tools to facilitate risk assessment intended for micro and small-sized enterprises (Community strategy 2007-2012)
  • the existing need from micro and small-sized enterprises for free of charge online risk assessment tools tailor-made to their sectoral specificities.

The OiRA tools are mainly intended to those enterprises not assessing their risks or not doing it in a systematic or structured approach (COM (2004) 62 final)[6] . The main aim of this initiative is to encourage them to start with the risk assessment process. By doing this, they will comply with the law and they will improve their working conditions.

References

  1. OiRA tools generator : web application (put at the disposal of the content developers) to create the (specific-sectoral) OiRA risk assessment tools
  2. OiRA tool(s) : the risk assessments tool(s) created by content developers using the web application and used by end users (companies) to carry out their risk assessment. All OiRA tools share the same web interface but can be completely different in terms of content
  3. Including rounded estimates based on non-confidential data; SMEs (1-249 persons employed), micro enterprises (1-9 persons employed); small enterprises (10-49 persons employed); medium-sized enterprises (50-249 persons employed); large enterprises (250 or more persons employed). Source: Eurostat. Statistics in focus 31/2008, Industry, trade and services. Author: Manfred Schmiemann
  4. OiRA Communications Strategy & Implementation Plan 2014 -2020 http://www.oiraproject.eu/Resources/manage-an-oira-project/euosha-oira-communications-strategy-implementation-plan-2014-2020
  5. This guide (available at: http://www.oiraproject.eu/Resources/manage-an-oira-project/a-guide-on-promotion-and-implementation-strategies-for-oira/at_download/file) provides Member State policy makers, EU and national social partners, OSH-experts, researchers and other relevant networks or associations with information on the implementation strategy of sector-specific risk assessment tools for micro and small enterprises.
  6. The report states that the “task of risk assessment, documentation and supervision is not universally spread” and this is a problem especially among micro and small-sized enterprises. COM (2004) 62 final: COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF REGIONS on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Directives 89/391 (Framework),… pp.15-17. (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52004DC0062:EN:NOT)

Contributors

palmerk