European Health and Safety Week takes place in October each year and is designed to raise awareness of health and safety. This year, as last year the main theme will be risk assessment and will take place between 19 - 25 October 2009.
The European Agency for Safety and Health describes the week as: “Aimed at people in organisations, companies and workplaces of all sizes and sectors. Everybody involved in occupational safety and health matters is invited to take part, especially safety and health institutions and occupational insurance organisations, trade unions and employers' organisations, companies, managers, employees and safety representatives.”
A properly managed workplace should be both safe and healthy. The employer has a responsibility to identify risks and take reasonably practical measures to minimise them. The law says that every employer has to conduct a risk assessment on the work their employees do and take "reasonably practical" measures to ensure their workers are not put at risk. That means removing or reducing the hazards that can put people at risk.
Risk assessment is the process used to identify hazards in the workplace and assess the likelihood that these hazards will cause harm to employees and others. It is part of a systematic approach employers are required by law to adopt in order to manage health and safety effectively. Workplace risks should never be seen as inevitable and if risk assessments are done correctly - and employers implement them fully - then it means that hazards are identified and removed or considerably reduced.
In the UK the week is being coordinated by the Health and Safety Executive.
The Wednesday of European Health and Safety Week is traditionally National Inspection Day when all safety representatives are encouraged to inspect their workplace.