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EU-OSHA project: better occupational safety and health in micro and small enterprises

Responding to the gap between occupational safety and health (OSH) requirements and workplace practice, EU-OSHA has launched a wide-ranging, three-year project (2014-2017) with the overall aim of identifying key success factors for policies, strategies and practical solutions designed to improve OSH in micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Europe. A group of researchers constituting the SESAME consortium has been commissioned to carry out the project, which has three main objectives:

  • to provide evidence-based support for policy recommendations, contributing to the current discussions on the OSH acquis with regard to small enterprises;

  • to identify workplace-level good practices in assuring good OSH management and to facilitate further development of innovative practical tools;

  • to inform future research aiming to expand knowledge on the determinants of good OSH in MSEs operating in a dynamically changing economy.

The following four project phases are to be carried out in pursuing those objectives:

Phase 1, 2014-2015: state of play — what we know about occupational safety and health in small companies

The findings of the first phase of the project are presented in a published report, Contexts and arrangements for occupational health and safety in micro and small enterprises in the EU, a comprehensive critical review of current knowledge on OSH and approaches to improving it in MSEs.

Phase 2, 2015-2016: the view from the workplace

Over 300 structured, face-to-face interviews with owners and managers, as well as with employees of MSEs in nine EU Member States participating in the project (1) are to be carried out. Influential factors, available resources, and drivers and barriers for efficient OSH management, as perceived by the workplaces themselves, will be identified and analysed. The results will deepen the understanding of the challenges identified in the previous phase.

Phase 3, 2016-2017: towards effective policies and good practices

This phase will involve OSH intermediaries and other important actors at workplace level to further analyse key mechanisms, benefits, strengths, success factors and areas for improvement in relation to policies, strategies and actions relevant to successful OSH management in MSEs. Focus groups and dialogue workshops organised in each country involved in the project will seek to determine the roles of different actors and the transferability of good practices for fostering preventive actions at workplace level.

Phase 4, 2017: support for policy recommendations and dissemination of good practices

The final phase aims to formulate (i) evidence-based support for policy and strategy options taking into account different national contexts, levels and actors, including national OSH authorities, intermediaries, social partners, workplaces and EU-level policy-makers; and (ii) best practices: ‘what works and why it works (and in what context)’, taking into account the diversity of MSEs across the EU. A programme of dissemination actions will be undertaken across the EU.

(1) Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom.