Workforce diversity and risk assessment: ensuring everyone is covered

This report highlights the need to carry out inclusive risk assessment; to take into account the diversity of the workforce when assessing and managing risks. Workers are not all exposed to the same risks and some specific groups of workers are exposed to increased risks (or are subject to particular requirements). When we speak about workers exposed to ‘particular’ or ‘increased’ risks, we refer to workers subject to specific risks due to their age, origins, gender, physical condition or status in the enterprise. Such people may be more vulnerable to certain risks and have specific requirements at work.

The EU Framework Directive (89/391/EEC)1 emphasises the need to ‘adapt the work to the individual’ (article 6.2), the obligation for the employer to ‘be in possession of an assessment of the risks to safety and health at work, including those facing groups of workers exposed to particular risks’ (article 9.1) and that ‘sensitive risks groups must be protected against the dangers which specifi cally aff ect them’ (article 15). The need to carry out inclusive risk assessment is also mentioned in other documents such as the EU Guidance on risk assessment at work2 (along with a non-exhaustive list of groups at increased risk), the EU strategy entitled Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work3 and the report from the European Commission on the implementation of the framework directive and its five individual directives. The main aim of this report is to describe why and how risk assessment can and should cover the whole workforce, and to increase awareness among those responsible for and aff ected by health and safety at work – employers, employees, safety reps and OSH practitioners – about the importance of assessing the risks of ALL workers. The report is aimed mainly at those who are responsible for carrying out risk assessments and/or are involved in the process.

The first part of the report presents the main issues regarding the occupational safety and health of six categories of workers considered to be at increased risk: migrant workers, disabled workers, young and old workers respectively, women (gender issues) and temporary workers. At the end of each subsection, links are provided to further information and practical guidance or risk assessment tools.

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