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Coordination of European Research on Industrial Safety towards Smart and Sustainable Growth

Coordination of European Research on Industrial Safety towards Smart and Sustainable Growth

Final Report Summary - SAF€RA (Coordination of European Research on Industrial Safety towards Smart and Sustainable Growth)

Executive Summary:
The SAF€RA ERA-NET project “Coordination of European Research on Industrial Safety towards Smart and Sustainable Growth” aimed during its three years to improve cooperation and coordination of national and regional research programmes addressing industrial safety. The focus was in improving the level of safety in the European industry through coordinated research to achieve sustainable growth and enhanced competitiveness.

Industrial safety is an enabling and important success-factor in the pursuit of beneficial business activities, sustainability and social welfare. Problems related to industrial safety are complex and common to all, and cannot be tackled adequately at the national level. Also, research addressing industrial safety is fragmented and resources are limited. Therefore, there was a need to improve collaboration and refocus the resources of national and regional research programmes on industrial safety in the EU.

SAF€RA consisted of 22 partners from 11 European countries: ministries, other funding organizations and research institutes owning or managing national or regional research programmes in the field of industrial safety. The aim was to improve collaboration through networking and joint activities. During the project, a common vision and joint strategy were elaborated, addressing the main challenges in the field of industrial safety, and concrete tools and an operating model for joint activities, applicable also beyond the project, were developed.

The joint activities materialized in two joint calls for research project proposals, launched in 2013 on the theme “Human and organizational factors including the value of industrial safety”, and in 2014 on the theme “Innovating in safety and safe innovations”. The calls attracted in total nearly 100 applications, with applicants from 20 European countries. 16 collaborative, transnational projects were funded (in addition one funding decision is still pending), with total SAF€RA funding of approx. 3.7 M€. The projects are/will be presented in the project database available at the SAF€RA call website, http://call.safera.eu. During the project, an annual SAF€RA event, offering a forum for networking and sharing information on the latest developments and research results addressing industrial safety, was developed. It will continue in some form also in the future.

The aim of SAF€RA was to build a sustainable network, and collaboration has indeed continued beyond the project, which ended in March 2015. The new SAF€RA cooperation is an open partnership, and new members are welcomed to join the network. The cooperation will focus on research programming and launching joint calls in the field of industrial safety. The new SAF€RA will continue in context of the European Technology Platform on Industrial Safety, ETPIS, which initiated the original SAF€RA project. More information about the new SAF€RA will be available at the SAF€RA website www.safera.industrialsafety-tp.org.

Overall, the SAF€RA project was a step towards overcoming the fragmentation of national/regional research addressing industrial safety, and helped improving collaboration at EU level and concentrating resources to areas of significance, thus helping to increase the overall scale and effectiveness of the research carried out in the EU. SAF€RA has created new opportunities for industrial safety research, with two successful joint calls and offering new collaboration and networking possibilities for the research community. Collaboration between research and industry actors still needs more work to be effective in improving industrial safety in the future. Through the increased cooperation, networking and dissemination, in close cooperation with ETPIS, more visibility has also been gained for industrial safety as a topic at different levels.

Project Context and Objectives:
One of the key-factors and prerequisites for long-lasting competitiveness of European industry is safety: it is an important and contributing part of a successful and well managed business. In order to allow uninterrupted production of goods and thus profitable industrial production processes, the goal of a business-oriented approach should be to guarantee that the industrial production process is safe. Unsafe operations can influence business profitability through direct costs due to industrial accidents and disruption, but also due to a loss of credibility and reputation of individual businesses and even of entire industrial sectors or branches. The commonly used phrase "If you think safety is expensive, try an accident" has become a reality in many industrial sectors.

Safety has traditionally been connected with regulations and norms aimed at the elimination or reduction of hazards and risks. However, the operational environment for safety regulation is changing because of globalization, complexity, changes in consumers’ values and increasing legal liabilities. There is an on-going development leading to an increased value being placed on safety. Investments in safety are related not only to the reduction of financial losses caused by industrial accidents but are also seen as an opportunity for sustainable business and competitiveness leading to industrial growth. Research-proven safety can thus provide a continuously increasing added value in several industrial sectors. Therefore, one important goal of safety research is to identify, assess and evaluate the impacts on all parts of the value chain to be impacted on by the increased safety.

Safety science is not a single scientific discipline. It requires the co-operation of researchers from different backgrounds: engineering in order to analyse risks and to devise barriers, sociology to understand risk aversion to be sure that barriers are in accordance with stakeholders’ perceptions and expectations as well as to propose suitable consultation mechanisms, law to deal with accountability, etc. The construction of a multidisciplinary research community provides clear benefits over purely disciplinary projects.

Prevention of major industrial accidents with off-site consequences to the environment, society and people is a challenge that has to be tackled through research which will subsequently lead to innovations to promote safe processes and products. New and innovative research approaches are also demanded for the management of potential risks emerging from the introduction of new technologies such as bio- and nanotechnologies. Research on safety and dissemination of results are essential for European industries. It enables the use of new technologies and innovations in order to avoid potential unnecessary fears of the general public which may lead to avoidance of novel innovations. These fears may cause severe damage to the competitiveness of European industry. Therefore, the prerequisite for improving the use of new technologies is open communication about the risks and their prevention based on joint research activities on industrial safety, and this will demand improved coordination and collaboration between national and regional research programmes.

Presently, almost every European country undertakes research programmes dedicated to the different aspects of industrial safety. These programmes are fragmented and largely based on institutional funding. It has been estimated by the European Technology Platform on Industrial Safety (ETPIS) a few years ago, that R&D spending on industrial safety in Europe is ca. 80 - 100 M€ per year.

Prior to SAF€RA, no larger network covering the field of industrial safety has existed with regard to national or regional research funding programmes, in spite of the successful initiative, European Technology Platform on Industrial safety (ETPIS), which has emerged in recent years between the European partners. The EU Member States have had their own separate research funding programmes, dealing with what are often very similar topics. At the same time, the problems that researchers face are increasingly complex, with many different factors involved. These problems are common to all and cannot be solved at the national level, and therefore, coordination of current national and regional programmes for industrial safety research within the EU is essential in order to improve possibilities of finding solutions to these problems. Also, in many cases the research activities under national and regional programmes have been rather modest in terms of their budget. This is why it is necessary to increase funding of safety research e.g. by pooling available resources.

The SAF€RA project was set up to overcome the fragmentation and duplication in national and regional research within the EU. Increasing cooperation and coordination between different research programmes and scientific disciplines has and will continue to increase the overall scale and effectiveness of the research carried out in the EU. The networking and integration of national programmes will help researchers understand the increasingly complicated issues related to industrial safety, and so contribute to the competitiveness of European industry.

The scope of SAF€RA included coordination of research on the prevention of major accidents and in particular the economic benefits of industrial safety solutions, safe innovative processes, preparedness and response as well as protection of the environment, new methods to enhance the creation of a safety culture and prudent attitudes, reference technologies for life extension of aged and repaired structures, as well as products and systems required to increase industrial safety.

The main objectives of the project were:

- Building up sustainable channels for communication and effective instruments for collaboration at a European level
- Increasing awareness about the importance of research in the field of industrial safety and strengthening the impact of this research
- Exploiting synergies and avoiding duplication of research and development, and reducing fragmentation
- Establishing joint programmes of transnational research projects between the involved EU Member States and associated countries (joint calls)
- Developing and implementing joint, strategic activities to establish a durable European network for cooperation between key actors in the field of industrial safety.

Project Results:
The main results of the SAF€RA project were:

- Trust and cooperation beyond national level improved between the national and regional research programme owners and managers
- Network, operating model and tools set up for future collaboration
- Common vision and joint strategy, beyond the project, agreed and priority topics identified
- Coordinated joint activities carried out with two successful joint calls for project proposals (2013, 2014)
- New opportunities offered for industrial safety research, and a significant number of new transnational European projects funded
- Visibility gained for industrial safety as a topic, e.g. through annual SAF€RA Symposia and various other networking and promotion activities, in cooperation with ETPIS
- Cooperation continued beyond the project in the context of ETPIS, commitment of members

The work towards the project objectives was implemented in four phases. The phases complemented each other, creating a step-by-step process of mutual learning, and establishing a sustainable network and cooperation model for joint activities in the field of industrial safety, applicable also beyond the project.

The first phase was an information exchange phase, during which the supporting tools for communication and exchange of knowledge between partners, and for dissemination to a wider audience, were established. In the next phase, national/regional priorities and areas of joint interest concerning industrial safety, complementaries between funding programmes and gaps in existing research were discussed, as well as different management approaches and administrative procedures within national/regional programmes.

Based on these activities, contributing to trust building among partners, a common vision and joint strategy were elaborated, addressing the main challenges in the field of industrial safety. The future directions are described in the Memorandum of Common Understanding, which was endorsed at the end of the second phase of the project. In the Memorandum, the following thematic priorities were identified:

- The value of industrial safety
- Good practices in managing new and emerging risks
- Safe transport system for dangerous goods
- New technologies in improving safety
- Human and organizational factors

In phase three of the project, the implementation of joint activities addressing the priorities was planned. This included preparing concrete tools and developing an operating model for joint transnational activities, i.e. joint calls for proposals, applicable also beyond the project. The work materialized in the final phase of the project in two joint calls for transnational research project proposals with transnational evaluation of proposals. The objective of the calls was naturally to improve industrial safety in Europe, and also foster collaboration between different countries and scientific disciplines.

A novel “matchmaking” procedure was developed for the calls, allowing also single-organization proposals to submit a (pre)proposal and to be “matched” with another proposal to form an eligible project consortium. This option offered a lower “barrier to entry” for researchers new to the field. To assist researchers in finding new project partners, an online match-making platform, available at the call website, was also set-up, and some brokerage events organized.

During the project, two joint calls were successfully launched and completed - in 2013 on the theme “Human and organizational factors including the value of industrial safety”, and 2014 on the theme “Innovating in safety and safe innovations”. Also, planning for a third joint call, to be launched beyond the project, has started.

The first call attracted 53 eligible applications, with applicants from 20 European countries. 9 transnational collaborative projects were funded, with SAF€RA funding of approx. 2.1 M€. The second SAF€RA joint call attracted 42 pre-proposals, with applicants from 19 European countries. From the received 19 full proposals, 7 transnational collaborative projects were funded (in addition one funding decision is still pending), with SAF€RA funding of approx. 1.6 M€.

The funded projects of the first call are:

- Design and development of a simulation tool for decision making in the management of health and safety based on Resilience Engineering, to promote a safety culture change process in MSW treatment companies (ASSESS-RE-TOOL), coordinator LIMASA, Spain (3 partners in total: 2 x ES, IT); in collaboration with project (brought together by SAF€RA match-making process)
Improving resilience in waste transports, coordinator Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland (1 partner: FI)
- Development and validation of a KPI-based method and a user-friendly software tool for resilience-focused measurement of OSH management system performance (KPI-OSH-Tool), coordinator CIOP-PIB, Poland (3 partners: PL, FI, ES)
- Exploring contributions of civil society to safety (ECCSSafe), coordinator Mutadis, France (4 partners: FR, 2 x SI, HU)
- Safety Preferences for Health-related Industrial Risks (SAPHIR), coordinator Toulouse School of Economics, France (3 partners: FR, 2 x DE)
- How to become a resilient organization manager, coordinator Institute for an Industrial Safety Culture, France (1 partner, FR); in collaboration with project (brought together by SAF€RA match-making process)
Promoting Safety as an emergent property of a resilient system, coordinator University of Genova, Italy (1 partner: IT)
- Socio Technical safety Assessment within Risk Regulation Regimes (STARS), coordinator VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finland (3 partners: FI, FR, NO)
- Success in the face of uncertainty: human resilience and the accident bow-tie, coordinator White Queen BV, the Netherlands (4 partners: NL, DK, FR, GR)
- Training for Operational Resilience Capabilities (TORC), coordinator Stiftelsen SINTEF, Norway (3 partners: NO, NL, FR)
- Value of Safety (VaLoSa), coordinator Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland (2 partners: FI, NL)

The funded projects of the second call are:

- Predictive methods for determining the decomposition properties of hazardous substances: from development to experimental verification (HAZPRED), coordinator INERIS, France (4 partners: FR, DE, CZ, NL)
- Smart protective solutions for industrial safety and productivity in the cold, coordinator FIOH, Finland (2 partners: FI, NO)
- Plurisensorial Device to prevent occupational disease (POD), coordinator Politecnico di Milano, Italy (3 partners: IT x 2, NL)
- Building a European Platform for evaluation of consequence models dedicated to emerging risks (SAPHEDRA), coordinator INERIS, France (7 partners: FR, DE, GR, UK, NL x 2, IT)
- Smart Process INdustry CranEs (SPRINCE), coordinator University of Messina, Italy (3 partners: IT, SB, CZ)
- IndooR localizatIon and building maintenance uSing radio frequency Identification and inertial NaviGation (RISING), coordinator Università di Roma, Italy (3 partners: IT x 2, ES)
- Safety assessment of trans-boundary and multi-modal hazardous material transportation: concept development, coordinator BAM, Germany (3 partners: DE, NL x 2)

The funded projects are/will be presented in the project database available at the SAF€RA call website, where other details of the calls can also be found: http://call.safera.eu.

In addition to the SAF€RA funded projects, there were a few projects funded by the national funding organizations outside the SAF€RA context (so called “SAF€RA associated projects”). Though these projects were not recommended for funding in the SAF€RA joint evaluation, they were found important at a national level.

The leverage effect of received EC funding for SAF€RA project’s coordination work is for the first two calls approximately 3.6. (Leverage effect of EC funding is the total cost of funded projects - funding provided by SAF€RA partners plus co-funding or own funding contributed by research organizations - divided by the EC coordination funding provided for the SAF€RA project. Given that the EC funding will not increase over time, this leverage effect will mechanically increase as more projects are funded in future calls which build upon the foundations of the SAF€RA project.). Furthermore, on average, 10€ of funding provided by a SAF€RA partner lead to an extra 5€ of co-funding or own funding provided by research organizations.

In the final phase of the SAF€RA project, also an action plan for future was developed. The collaboration has continued, as planned, beyond the project, which ended in March 2015. The new SAF€RA cooperation is an open partnership, and new members are welcomed to join the network. The cooperation will focus on research programming and launching joint calls in the field of industrial safety. The new SAF€RA will continue in the context of the European Technology Platform on Industrial Safety (ETPIS), which initiated the original SAF€RA project. More information about the new SAF€RA will be available at the SAF€RA website www.safera.industrialsafety-tp.org.

During the project, an annual SAF€RA Symposium was also developed, and three organized, offering a forum for networking and sharing information on the latest developments and research results in the field of industrial safety. The proceedings of the last Symposium, held in February 2015, are available at the SAF€RA website www.safera.industrialsafety-tp.org. The events will continue in some form also in the future.

Potential Impact:
The activities carried out during the SAF€RA project, as well as further actions to be undertaken after the end of the project, will have either a direct or an indirect impact on a number of issues related to industrial safety. The project was expected to have a direct impact on the following issues:

- Reinforcement of the European Research Area on industrial safety
- Identification of the future challenges related to industrial safety in the EU
- Creation of a durable European research network related to industrial safety
- Publication of European and national strategies and research priorities related to industrial safety
- Establishing effective dissemination and promotion to implement industrial safety in the EU.

Some of the aims and expected impacts are for the longer term, such as the aim for publication of European and national strategies, and were not originally expected to be achieved during the project life cycle, but initiated. The full impacts will be visible only in a longer term, when the SAF€RA collaboration continues, and e.g. also the results of the SAF€RA funded projects are disseminated and implemented in practice. The actual effect of the project on the level of safety in the European industry remains to be seen in the future (but it is notoriously difficult to measure the effect of investments in safety, because safety concerns the absence of unwanted events, and because it is often difficult to distinguish the effects of one investment from other competing influences).

Overall, the SAF€RA project was a step towards overcoming the fragmentation of national/regional research addressing industrial safety, and helped improving collaboration at EU level and concentrating resources to areas of significance. Increased cooperation and coordination between different research programmes helps to increase the overall scale and effectiveness of the research carried out in the EU. SAF€RA has created new opportunities for industrial safety research, with two successful joint calls and offering new collaboration and networking possibilities for the research community. Collaboration between research and industry actors still needs more work to be effective in improving industrial safety in the future.

Through the increased cooperation, networking and promotion activities during the project, in close cooperation with ETPIS, more visibility has been gained at different levels for industrial safety as a topic. In time, we expect that the collaboration and adoption of a joint vision and strategy will influence even more deeply the strategies and research priorities related to industrial safety research and funding at national/regional level, and beyond. SAF€RA has encompassed most of the geographical areas of the European Union, and the future cooperation will continue to be open to new members, which will also be actively approached. Through the creation of sustainable, expanding, working network of collaboration, SAF€RA has and will contribute to the reinforcement of the European Research Area on industrial safety.

Dissemination and promotion activities towards the research community and key stakeholders have been essential for achieving the goals set in the project and for having the desired impact. The activities have been carried out actively throughout the project by the partners themselves and with the significant help of ETPIS and e.g. other active national technology platforms e.g. in Spain, Czech Republic and Finland.

Various communications channels have been used, including websites, social media, newsletters, direct emailings, participation in meetings, presentations and posters in events, organization of own events. Also a project website, http://www.safera.industrialsafety-tp.org leaflet and other basic material were prepared. In addition, a specific call website was set-up, http://call.safera.eu with an online match-making platform to assist researchers in finding new project partners for proposals. Also some brokerage events were organized to promote the joint calls and assist researchers in finding new project partners. To present the funded projects and their results, a project database was developed, available at the call website. The SAF€RA websites with the project database will be maintained beyond the project and used also in the new SAF€RA cooperation.

Successful activities during the project have resulted in receiving a good amount of quality proposals in both joint calls, active participation in the organized SAF€RA events and expansion of the SAF€RA network with new members. The developed annual SAF€RA Symposium (held 2013 in Cracow, 2014 in Berlin, 2015 in Paris), which will be organized in some form also in the future in cooperation with ETPIS, offers a great opportunity for exchanging knowledge between researchers from various scientific disciplines and stakeholders in the field of industrial safety. In the future, the new SAF€RA will also assist in disseminating and implementing the results of the funded projects from the joint calls. Good cooperation with dissemination and networking activities will continue beyond the project with ETPIS, national technology platforms and other relevant parties.

With the experience, effective operating models and lessons learned from the SAF€RA project, the new SAF€RA cooperation will continue its work aiming to improve coordination of research investment on industrial safety, improving the complementarity of research undertaken in the EU.

The SAF€RA vision for the future is:
- Safety and innovation jointly contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of European industry, meeting societal challenges.
- Researchers from various scientific disciplines and stakeholders constitute a community, sharing knowledge about industrial safety.

You are welcome to join the cooperation!

List of Websites:
SAF€RA website: http://www.safera.industrialsafety-tp.org/
SAF€RA call website: http://call.safera.eu

SAF€RA Project Coordinator: Dr. Carita Aschan, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. tel. +358 30 474 2776, carita.aschan@ttl.fi
SAF€RA Project Manager: Ms. Minna Huuskonen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel: +358 30 474 2240, minna.huuskonen@ttl.fi

SAF€RA project partner organizations are listed in the enclosure.

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 291812

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 April 2012

  • End date

    31 March 2015

Funded under:

FP7-NMP

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 164 136

  • EU contribution

    € 1 494 988

Coordinated by:

TYOTERVEYSLAITOS