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Facts and Figures (ESENER)

EU-OSHA’s European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) is an extensive survey looking at how safety and health risks are managed in European workplaces.

Representatives of thousands of businesses and organisations across Europe respond to ESENER questionnaires, which focus particularly on:

  • General OSH risks and how they are managed
  • Psychosocial risks such as stress, bullying and harassment
  • Drivers of and barriers to action in OSH management
  • Worker participation in OSH

The 2014 survey is even more detailed and extensive than the first one, with the sample sizes increased by half, and in three countries the national samples have been additionally boosted. ESENER-2 includes micro enterprises of 5 to 10 employees and agricultural businesses for the first time.

  • Workplace risk assessments carried out regularly and mainly by internal staff

    There seems to be a correlation with establishment size, as the percentage share of establishments where risk assessments are mainly conducted by internal staff increases with size.

    This does not conclude anything about the quality of these risk assessments but in principle, and under the assumption that those controlling the work are in the best position to control the risks, all enterprises should be able to carry out a basic risk assessment with their own staff only.

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  • Workplace risk assessments carried out regularly

    ESENER-2 indicates that 77 % of establishments in the EU-28 carry out risk assessments regularly. As expected, there is a positive correlation with establishment size.

    Absolute levels of risk assessment indicated by ESENER-2 are to some extent likely to be overestimates. This type of ‘measurement error’ is common to all surveys, and ESENER-2 has employed best efforts in keeping them to a minimum. Most importantly, the methodology ensures that the levels can be used for valid comparisons between countries and for analysis against other variables, which are the main aims of the survey.

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  • Why risk assessments are not carried out regularly

    The main reasons given for not carrying out regular risk assessment are that the risks and hazards are already known (83) and that there are no major problems (80 %).

    Interestingly, enterprises in the smallest size classes report less frequently than their larger counterparts that the procedure is too burdensome: 22 % among those employing five to nine workers compared with 31 % among those employing more than 250 people.

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  • Reasons for addressing health and safety

    Fulfilling the legal obligation is reported to be a major reason by 85% of establishments in the EU-28.

    There is a slight positive correlation with establishment size, whereas, by sector, there are no significant differences. The second most important driver for action on OSH is meeting expectations from employees or their representatives (79%).

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  • Major difficulties in addressing health and safety

    Results by size suggest that the smallest establishments appear to report these two factors — complexity of legal obligations and the paperwork — more often than their larger counterparts.

    In contrast, the lack of awareness, both among staff and management, is reported particularly in the largest size class, which is an interesting finding, as it suggests that a positive safety culture or climate may become more difficult to manage as enterprise size grows.

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  • Risk factors present in the establishment

    The most frequently identified risk factors are having to deal with difficult customers, pupils or patients (58 % of establishments in the EU-28), followed by tiring or painful positions (56 %) and repetitive hand or arm movements (52 %).

    In the current context of societal change, ESENER-2 findings reflect the continued growth of the service sector.

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  • Two most frequently reported risk factors

    The risk of accidents with machines or hand tools is the most frequently reported risk factor in construction, waste management, water and electricity supply (82% of establishments in the sector in the EU-28), agriculture, forestry and fishing (78%) and manufacturing (77%).

    Having to deal with difficult customers, patients, pupils, etc. is the most common risk factor in education, human health and social work activities (75%) and trade, transport, food/accommodation and recreation activities (62%).

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