Closing Conference OSH4Edu: Enhancing risk assessment in education institutions


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Members from the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) and ETUCE met on 6 May 2021, for the closing conference of the OSH4Edu project. Following their joint commitment to explore the possibility to develop risk assessment tools in 2016, leading to the joint development of two Online interactive risk-assessment (OiRA) tools, the aim of the OSH4Edu project was to increase awareness on and implementation of OiRA tools. Participants from across Europe discussed and shared their experiences using risk-assessment tools and provided further input on how to adapt them to the COVID-19 context.

The conference fruitfully touched upon many aspects regarding the implementation and promotion of OiRA tools. After a warm welcome from Barabara Novinec, president of EFEE, and Larry Flanagan, president of ETUCE, the conference opened with insightful presentations on the current state and future paths of occupational health and risk assessment tools. Furthermore, Michaela Seifert, representing the European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health (EU-OSHA), clarified remaining questions regarding the translation and adaptation of the OiRA tool into the national context. Member organisations wishing to use the tool should contact their national OiRA partner and EU-OSHA who will provide further guidance. Michaela Seifert further introduced some key statistics concerning the OiRA tool. According to current feedback, 95% of its users find the tool easy to use and would recommend it. The tool further helps set up an action plan which can be used to address the risks of education establishments and implement preventive measures. It is now also available to assess risks in small scale education institutions.

Apanel discussion with EFEE and ETUCE representatives from Ireland, the Czech-Republic and Portugal opened the floor to share experiences and challenges regarding the use of OiRA tools, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panellists collectively agreed that educations institutions had not been sufficiently prepared to deal with the pandemic and that consequent risk-assessments became increasingly difficult. In this light several suggestions were made to enhance the tool and adapt it to a COVID-19 context. Ireland, for instance, suggested to include a focus on ventilation in schools as part of the requirements for a safe working environment.

Lastly, the draft joint statement on “Promoting the Implementation of OiRA tools in Education Institutions by the European Sectoral Social Partners in Education” was discussed, amended, and endorsed. The overall feedback was positive.  Taking the conference’s input into account the final statement is to be presented to the European Social Dialogue Committee in Education Plenary in autumn 2021 for adoption.

The conference marked another milestone for this joint EFEE/ETUCE cooperation. The next step will be to develop an OiRA tool for the Higher Education sector. A comprehensive report about the conference will be published in due time.

More information:

2016 EFEE/ETUCE joint commitment to develop OiRA tools

National OiRA Partners