In 2011, the accident insurance institutions commissioned the IFA (Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance) with the development and establishment of a risk observatory. Since then, the risk observatory has supported the accident insurance institutions in proactive prevention by identifying top cross-sector and sector-specific developments. These are developments that will greatly influence the safety and health of insured individuals in the near future. The aim of the risk observatory is to anticipate changes that will in future effect the workplace, universities and colleges, schools, and child day-care centres.
The risk observatory has since undergone two survey rounds (2012–2016; project number IFA-0096 and 2017–2021; project number IFA-0100). The basis of both survey rounds was provided by surveys exclusively of prevention experts, primarily labour inspectors, from the DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance). In the second survey round, the focus was on top sector-specific developments and their effects in the context of the respective sector.
Feedback from the accident insurance institution committees, in particular the conference of prevention managers on the second survey round of the risk observatory, called for the restructuring and substantial further development of the methodology used by the risk observatory for the third survey round. With regard to making the results more usable for the accident insurance institutions, a work group was formed, including experts from the German social accident insurance institutions and the team from the risk observatory, in order to ensure the demand-oriented further development of the risk observatory. The discussion in the work group yielded the following key requirements on the third survey round:
Based on the information from the conference of prevention managers, the discussions in the joint work group of the accident insurance institutions and internal discussions, the risk observatory team developed a new procedure for the third survey round which stipulates close cooperation with the DGUV trend search as per item 5 and requires some preparatory considerations.
The basis for the surveys in the risk observatory is a collection of forward-looking trends and developments which drew on extensive research in all available media (e.g., internet, press, scientific journals, events) and which also considered the trends reported to the DGUV trend search. The trends and developments found should meet the criteria specified under item 1.
The strong future focus and external character of the new concept with experts outside of the field of accident insurance are to be achieved on the one hand through the aforementioned collection of innovation and future-oriented developments and on the other hand through the use of a completely new survey sample. In contrast, the sector relevance of the trends and developments should still be evaluated by experts within the field of accident insurance. An appropriately simplified evaluation which still does justice to the needs of individual sectors had to take place in a separate survey module parallel to the consideration of future relevance. The results of both survey modules should then come together in an overall evaluation.
As the collection of trends throughout the entire third survey round is performed continuously, there should be the option of evaluating new trends that are identified after completion of the sector-relevance and future-relevance survey and that are not a part of the underlying trend collection. This is so that they can also be considered in the reporting of top developments, if relevant. The trend search group of the DGUV’s expert committee "New Forms of Work" is responsible for the evaluation using a rapid evaluation method based on the same questions as the future-relevance survey.
Ultimately, the report for each relevant development was to be drafted in a way that all key information could be summarised on two to three pages, including sector relevance. To ensure that the new concept avoids crossover with the procedure and reports of the DGUV trend search, a step-by-step comparison with the DGUV trend search procedures took place in cooperation with the DGUV’s expert committee "New Forms of Work".
The result of the project is the new procedure for the third survey round of the risk observatory which has been coordinated with the DGUV’s expert committee "New Forms of Work" as the provider of the DGUV trend search. The procedure follows a three-year cycle.
In the identification of top developments, i.e., developments that greatly influence the safety and health of insured individuals, the risk observatory draws on two independent surveys: the sector-relevance survey and the future-relevance survey.
The basis of the new procedure is the collection of trends by the risk observatory. This collection was published on the website of the risk observatory and is continuously updated and expanded. It currently comprises ten global trends with up to 25 developments each.
The questionnaires on future relevance and sector relevance were developed by the risk observatory team and coordinated with the DGUV trend search team. The prevention managers were asked to name the sector experts, and the survey sample of the sector-relevance survey was put together based on their answers. In the sector-relevance survey, approximately 250 sector experts from the accident insurance institutions assess all developments looked at in the survey round with regard to their influence on the safety and health of insured individuals in the respective sector. The assessments of the sector experts of a given sector are averaged for each development. A development whose impact in the next five to ten years is estimated to be very large is moved to the pool of top developments. This takes into account how many sectors this development has a major impact on.
For the future-relevance survey, the risk observatory team put together the survey sample through research on the internet and in scientific journals and magazines. Experts from scientific institutions and societies as well as from workplace safety institutes inside and outside of the German accident insurance institutions are to evaluate developments exclusively in the field of their expertise with regard to their influence on the workplace in the coming five to ten years. The expert assessments are averaged for each development. Experts from the field of workplace safety also evaluate the influence on the safety and health of insured individuals. The basis for the evaluation on the topic of safety and health is a reduced version of the DGUV trend search evaluation system. Data protection requirements were discussed with the DGUV data protection officers and taken into account in the questionnaires. The surveys themselves will start in spring 2023 in the scope of an independent project.
The future-relevance survey will take place every three years. In the meantime, the collection of trends will be expanded and newly found developments must be evaluated so that they can be considered amongst the top developments if they qualify as such. The trend search group of the DGUV’s expert committee "New Forms of Work" will do this at regular intervals using the aforementioned rapid evaluation method.
The risk observatory team identifies top developments based on the quantitative evaluations. Short descriptions are drawn up for these top developments, specifying the sectors affected and describing prevention-relevant consequences. To optimise the short descriptions, in-depth interviews with experts from the survey samples are planned in future alongside literature and internet research on the developments.
The conference of the accident insurance institution’s prevention managers can also initiate the further processing of individual top developments, e.g. in specialist DGUV divisions and work groups or in the form of a discussion involving different accident insurance institutions, for instance in a workshop or conference.
Extensive sector overviews are drawn up optionally on the request of the prevention managers of the accident insurance institutions.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
risk assessmentDescription, key words:
risk observatory, prevention, risk, emerging risks, trend, development, accident insurance institutions, changes in the world of work