Keywords: Risk assessment, Health and safety, Major accident hazards, EU legislation.
The full title of this paper should be ‘The Adoption and Use of the Risk Assessment Concept in EU Legislation to Improve Health and Safety at Work, Control of Major Accident Hazards and Free Trade’ which gives a clearer indication of the scope.
The development of risk analysis/risk assessment methods was initiated after the war, in particular in the fields of the nuclear, aviation and space industries, as a tool for managing the risks related to complex systems. At that time the term safety analysis was used to a large extent with the same meaning as the term risk assessment is used to day
The major accidents, which occurred in the 1970s, particularly those at Flixborough, England, 1974, Beek, the Netherlands, 1975 and Seveso, Italy, 1976, alarmed the public and forced Governments to take action to restore confidence in industries capable of causing major accidents.
The European Commission initiated work in this field and the Council finally adopted Directive 82/501/EEC (The Seveso Directive) on the major-accident hazards of certain industries. Its purpose was to avoid disparity between the provisions adopted in the various Member States on measures to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences for man and the environment. Such measures might create unequal conditions of competition between the Member Countries and hence directly affect the functioning of the Common Market.
The initial efforts in connection with the implementation of this Directive increased the Authorities’ interest in the use of safety and risk assessment, including the possible use of quantitative methods, as a basis for the control of major accident hazards involving dangerous substances.
From the very beginning the Competent Authorities were looking for clear and transparent acceptance criteria, which were easy to use by the local Authorities responsible for assessing the acceptability of the risks that had been established through the risk assessment carried out. Alternatively the Authorities needed to ascertain whether manufacturers had taken appropriate measures, to prevent major accidents and provide means to limit the consequences thereof, as required by Article 7 of the Seveso Directive.
In parallel with the adoption of the Seveso Directive, the new health and safety Framework Directive (89/391/EEC) was negotiated and Member States finally adopted risk assessment as an approach to be followed by employers to determine the protective measures commensurate and proportional to the risks identified.
In accordance with Article 9 of this Directive, the employer shall be in possession of an assessment of the risks to safety and based on this, decide on the protective measures to be taken. As a basis for decisions on the measures to be taken, the Framework Directive includes general principles of prevention. The Framework Directive thus extends the concept of risk assessment to all activities at the work place.
The use of risk assessment as part of Community Legislation has since been extended to other sectors such as the safety of machinery and exposure to chemical and biological agents at the work place.
This paper attempts to describe the present status in selected areas with regard to the practical implementation, experience accumulated and possible future developments, as seen from an Inspector’s point of view.
H Hagen, Risikosekretariatet, Roskilde, Denmark.
23 pages, 2 figures, 21 refs.