The agency has set up a special internet information source, for all those interested in and concerned by health and safety issues, which makes available the latest health and safety information on the Year 2000 computer bug across Europe. It is intended that this will be associated with an interactive discussion forum moderated by the Health and Safety Executive.
Any computerised electronic system that uses a microprocessor or digital electronics could be affected by the Year 2000 computer problem. Control systems for fire protection and security systems, energy management systems for buildings and some gas and fire detector instruments, are examples of systems that could be affected.
The director of the European Agency, Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, said:
Padraig Flynn, commissioner for employment and social affairs, who asked the agency to bring together existing information on this subject, added: 'As the Year 2000 approaches, it is important to provide information to those who need it so that they may be prepared for the challenges ahead and make the necessary plans to avoid the social, health, environmental and economic effects of this problem. Indeed its consequences may be more than just a technical hitch.'
This new information service of the European Agency provides a quick overview of safety and health information on the year 2000 problem. The service is available at the following address: http://www.eu-osha.es/year2000/
1. The nature of the year 2000 problem means that any programmable electronic system may fail and so render any safety arrangements inadequate. Equipment containing embedded (built-in) systems may fail or give incorrect information. Results of calculations may be erroneous and may cause operators to take inappropriate action.
2. The unfortunate fact is that year 2000 failure is potentially common to all systems. In the jargon of the control systems world, it is known as a 'common cause' failure. This means that it can cause the simultaneous failure of more than one system, or the simultaneous failure of many components of the same system.
3. Embedded systems can be difficult to recognize but generally comprise some type of microprocessor or digital electronics, often with a timer, and are 'embedded' within modern equipment, eg instruments, fire alarms, lifts, machinery and controllers of other equipment.