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The European Network for
Workplace Health Promotion
Report of the Current Status of
WHP in Small & Medium
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Objectives: provide overview current
practice in workplace OHS pro-motion in SMEs
in the European Union
We will analyse:
 I - general economic and health conditions
 II - current procedures and regulations
 III - conditions which inhibit or promote
practice in both fields
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Special features of SMEs
The role of the enterprise owner
 regard themselves as independent/enjoy
personal autonomy to make decisions.
 very sceptical about formal legal require-ments.
 If health-related strategies are
implemented, they tend to be of a short-term
 Longer-term strategic and conceptional
 programmes, required for preventive action, are
therefore less developed or not promoted.
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Social relationships in
 strong family atmosphere = tend to be family
 employees tend to feel trust and loyalty towards
 owner shows consideration/understanding
 Not surpris-ing institutionalised representatives –
e.g. works councils – have little significance than
in large companies
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 characterised by simple organisational
 Fewer routine activities
 significant degree of direct communication
 Ad-hoc decisions & improvisation are
common than rigid regulations laid down
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I General economic conditions
 SMEs play a key role in the economic
development of Europe
 almost 20 million companies within the 19
European states * employ fewer than 250
 That is more than 99% of all companies
 77 million people work in SMEs
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% = Ireland 49; UK 55; Finland 59
Italy & Portugal 80; Spain 79; Greece 78
Regarding turnover and productivity (value added per employee):
larger enterprise / higher two indicators
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 risk of accident is much higher in SMEs than in large
 fatal occupational accidents: are twice in enterprises
with fewer than 50 employees than in companies with
more than 250 employees
 minor accidents in medium-sized and large enterprises
are more rigorously documented (makes that Austria,
Denmark and Sweeden higher accident rates in larger
 sector of the economy plays major role in accident
situation: most accidents occur in the building industry.
 Industrial production processes (e.g. metal-working &
wood processing n) & agriculture are almost as
 Accident risk traditionally lowest in service sectors
 Most occupational diseases are reported in building
companies, metal-working sector, health services &
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II Structures occupational
health and safety for SMEs
 Legislative framework
 Labour inspection
 Occupational health & safety services
 Employees representation
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a) Legislative framework
(modified by the Nice Treaty)
The Community will support and will complete
the activities of the Member States in:
a) the improvement of the work
environment to protect the workers’ health and
b) improving of working conditions
Art. 137.1 (before 118)
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Art. 137 (ex 118)
 To such an end, the Council will:
adopt directives as minimum
dispositions that will apply
progressively, taking into account
the conditions and existent technical
regulations in each one of the States
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Framework Directive 89/391/EEC
Implementation of Measures to Improve the
Health and Safety of Employees at Work: Changes
 definition of OHS = more comprehensive and geared to
 The focus is now on cause-oriented to
- risk avoidance
-adapta-tion of the working conditions to people (not
- com-prehensive OHS policy not solely aimed to prevent
accidents and paying compensation
 the responsibility of the employer has been redefined =
jobs have to be assessed for any risks and appropriate
 Include civil servants under scope of directive.
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b) Labour inspection
 despite differ-ent structures, qualifications, skills and
responsibilities of the labour inspectors, their OHS
strategies show more and more similarities
 The inspection mandate has been extended to include
consultancy and information. The employers are to be
advised and informed by the inspectors as to how they
should carry out their obligations.
 Although inspection and monitoring, linked with action in
the case of blatant infringements are still relevant, a
new, revised understand-ing of a labour inspector’s role
can be seen
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b) Labour inspection
 the aim is no longer short-term, one-off
elimination of all acute deficiencies, but the
detection of underlying (frequently
 the labour inspector more as a mediator and
advisor on OHS and less as an inspector
 Remaining Problems: subject to restrictions in
terms of resources (few staff and insufficient
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The smaller the enterprise/the less chances inspected
 Swedend: typical situation in SMEs: labour inspec-torate visits 15,000
of the 160,000 enterprises with fewer than 10 employees annually
- 75% of visits made to small enterprises
- However the largest companies are contacted on average almost
three times a year
- the smallest enterprises see a labour inspector once in ten years.
- Labour inspectorate perceived by SMEs as costly and time-consuming
- regulations imposed by the authorities limit their entrepreneurial
- small enterprises have structures which are less hierarchical
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- lot of proceedings work through oral communication
- bureaucratic structures are less pronounced than in
- formalised statutory procedures for occupational health
and safety represent a major
burden = need for documentation, identification, self-
- limited resources = labour inspection is concentrated
on high-risk work sites
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c) Occupational health and
 the employers are legally obliged to provide care
through OHS services
 size of the enterprise = the smaller the
enterprise, the less favourable the situation is
- Although risk assessment is obligatory, it only
takes place in 30 to 50 % of small enterprises
(< 50 employees)
- whereas in larger companies (> 100
employees) the proportion is
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c) Occupational health and
OHS Preventive services: minimum requirement
 only permitted or approved if at least four
different disciplines are represented:
- occupational medicine (normally externalized),
- safety speciality
- occupational hygiene
- psycho-sociology and ergonomics
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MICRO ENTRERPRISES: employer
takes himself care of prevention
 Austria (< 26 employees), Belgium (< 20
employees), Germany (< 50 employees), Portugal (< 10
employees) and Spain (< 6 employees)
 employers must learn about risk assessment, cost-
efficiency, responsibility, organisation, hazardous
 employer is also obliged to take part in regular further
training programes (Germany)
 employer works personally at worksite (Spain)
 Practice: very few. Normal to get external preventive
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c) Occupational health and safety services
 In Sweden there are 700 preventive service units with 7,000
psychologists, ergonomists, and physiotherapists working in joint
private and branch ser-vices
 In Spain more than 1000 (Accident non profitable Funds and Private
 In Finland the municipal model is the most important
 The “Good Neighbour Scheme” is a programme (Irish) to encourage
OHS in SMEs:
- large enterprises with a good occupa-tional health and safety
- act as mentors for small enterprises in their region
- they help and advise local SMEs, support them with their OHS
services (including training)
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d) Health and safety committees and
 health and safety representatives are frequently closely
linked to the trade unions. They are either nominated
directly by the trade unions (UK) or approved by
trade unions following an election by the workforce (DK)
or simply elected by workers (Spain)
 countries where trade union membership has declined
(Fr) or (UK), the connection between enterprise
occupation-al health and safety representatives and the
trade unions is weaker or getting weaker (Spain)
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d) Health and safety committees
 they present a forum for employers’ and employees’
delegates to discuss OHS and together to find solutions
 the committees also play important role in monitoring
OHS measures and holding training courses and
 they are useful tool to implement OHS in practice
 their establishment only obligatory for businesses of a
certain size upwards. The limit is between 20 and 50
employees, depending on the country.
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III Consequences and need for
1) Awareness-raising, marketing and
 traditional OHS, with its formality and bureaucracy, is
not suited to SMEs.
 must be focused more on motivation, co-operation and
consultancy as well as on interest and acceptance
 there is a need for positive and pragmatic OHS
philosophies which are geared to everyday life in small
enterprises integrating OHSin quality and normal
 public relations work is essential
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2) Setting up infrastructures
(building supportive environments)
 SMEs can only be achieved collectively = co-operation all those
 political level = developing new policies and integrating existing
- reinforcing OHS institutes
- establishing dialogue between interested parties
- developing policy documents
- providing subsidies to organisations undertaking OHS
Preventive Services or employing OHS professionals
 improve and adapt vocational and long life training concepts in
OHS to meet new targets
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3) WHP service management
 develop tailor-made quality-assured preventive services
 how these services can reach considerably more SMEs =
services and measures must:
- be closely related to practical problems and
experiences of SMEs
- they become part of everyday working life (integration)
- be readily accessible, i.e. as local as possible.