Jukka Takala, director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

EU-OSHA Trying Out Social Media

Jukka Takala, director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, is inviting stakeholders to use its new blog and sharing his views about enforcement, persistent risks, occupational diseases, and more in 28 short videos.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) climbed onto the new media bandwagon this week by launching its own blog, with a post by Director Jukka Takala kicking things off. He said the agency plans to use the blog and other social media as a more direct communication tool to ensure EU-OSHA's work is relevant to stakeholders' information needs.

"The role of the web users will be crucial," Takala added. "Only you can make these new tools useful, so we hope that you will participate actively."

Takala is also shown in a sequence of 28 brief YouTube videos in which he answers questions about enforcement versus consultation, persistent risks, occupational diseases, and other issues. In one video, he says the work-relatedness of occupational diseases such as cancer needs to be better understood. Genetic factors explain some cancers, and some are caused by workers' exposures to asbestos, tobacco smoke, or diesel exhaust, Takala says. "It's not only the fatalities," he adds. "I think we have to keep in mind that there are a lot of big problems that are seldom causing fatalities." He cites stress, depression, and musculoskeletal disorders, saying these primarily affect female workers, whereas cancer and accidents mainly affect male workers.

About 5,720 fatal occupational accidents are recorded annually in the European Union, according to EU-OSHA, and about 2 million fatal work-related diseases occurred in the EU in 2002 alone, according to a 2009 Journal of Safety Research paper co-authored by Takala that is discussed in another post in the blog. This year's European Week for Safety and Health at Work will take place Oct. 19-23, with events and activities taking place across the continent. The common theme linking the events is promoting the importance of carrying out risk assessment in every workplace. The campaign will conclude with the Closing Event on Nov. 17.

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