Brussels, 12 Jul 2005
A new Technology Platform on industrial safety (TPIS) has been launched to help enable the sustainable growth of European industry. Like other Technology Platforms, the main aim of TPIS is to prepare a strategic vision of the research priorities for industrial safety and to implement a detailed action plan.
According to Eurostat statistics, in the EU15, one worker becomes a victim of industrial accidents every 5 seconds and one worker dies every two hours. In 2001, this meant 7.6 million accidents at work, 4.9 million of these resulted in more than 3 days of absence from work, and 4,900 fatalities. The cost of accidents at work and occupational diseases in the EU15 ranges from 2.6 to 3.8 per cent of Gross National Product (GNP).
Additionally, in 2002 almost 2.5 million accidents at work and 1 400 fatalities were recorded in the new EU member states. The challenge is to achieve zero accidents in industry, benefiting workers, communities and the environment through a reduction of costs and improvement of productivity and competitiveness.
A major accident such as the Toulouse disaster on 21 September 2001 resulted in 1.5 billion euro of damage, ,000 homes and 1,300 companies damaged. The explosion killed 30 people, 2,242 were injured and 5,000 people were treated for acute stress. In addition, the disaster upset the public, traumatised an industrial city and led politicians to close down several industrial plants with subsequent job losses in the area.
According to the Major Accident Reporting System (MARS) database - managed by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, about 30 major accidents happen each year. By definition these accidents had the potential for major consequences to people and the environment, and even though many of them, fortunately, do not have such serious effects, they do have serious economic impacts on industry and the communities that rely on them for employment.
Conscious of the importance of this issue, a high level group from industry, trade unions, authorities, NGOs, banks, insurance and researchers has come together to create a Technology Platform to achieve a higher level of industrial safety in Europe, thus enabling sustainable growth.
This initiative, which immediately gained the support of the Commission's Directorates General for Employment, Enterprise, Environment and Research, aims to prepare a strategic research agenda for industrial safety and implement a detailed action plan as soon as the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) is launched.
As well as targeting new knowledge, methodologies and processes, however, the platform hopes to achieve improvements in industrial safety through a better transfer of existing knowledge to companies, notably small and medium sized enterprises (SME), and the newer EU Members States. Better training and education of those involved in managing environmental and professional risk, as well as the development of an incident elimination culture, are also priorities.
TPIS will also have an impact on several other Technology Platforms, according to its organisers, and as its vision is translated into a charter and detailed objectives, measurable goals and 'milestones' will be defined to ensure that real gains are made.
Given that the overarching priority of TPIS is 'research on industrial safety' the majority of members are involved in 'research focus groups' each of which addresses a key challenge to improving industrial safety.
So far, the following focus groups have been identified:
- FG1: methods and technologies to reduce risk at work, for the environment, major accidents;
- FG2: methodologies for risk assessment and risk management;
- FG3: human and organizational factors;
- FG4: education and training;
- FG5: research incubator - emerging and cross-cutting risk & safety issues.
For further information, please consult the following web address:
For further information on technology platforms, please visit: http:///www.cordis.lu/technology-platfo rm s/