EU strategy protects workers’ safety and health in today’s changing world of work

Improving prevention. Anticipate change. Increase preparedness. These are the three cross-cutting objectives of the EU Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027

Designed to protect the health and safety of EU workers – all 170 million – the framework sets out the main priorities. It outlines the actions needed in a post-pandemic world to manage both the green and digital transitions, as well as the demographic change resulting from an aging workforce.

As we approach the first anniversary of the strategy, it is important to ensure that we deliver on our commitments. Officially launched by the European Commission on June 28, 2021, the strategy stems from more than 30 years of European occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation. It builds on the achievements of the previous strategic framework (2014-2020), as well as contributions from a wide range of stakeholders.

I believe that our efforts within the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) have played a crucial role in achieving the ambitions of the framework. As we enter the post-pandemic era, it is clear to see the great transformation that workplaces have undergone to survive and thrive. Our practice COVID-19 Resources have already helped organizations cope with the pandemic and protect their staff.

The pandemic is just one concern among many. The strategic framework identifies many other key challenges facing European workers and the way forward requires sustained commitment. EU-OSHA has played and will continue to play a key role in implementation by facilitating action, cooperation and exchanges within its extensive network of partners. It will also continue to support a culture of prevention in workplaces across the EU and beyond, now and in the future.

“It is estimated that for every euro that a company invests in OHS, it will receive double in return”

Concretely, EU-OSHA supports the development of OiRA tools to help micro and small organizations in their risk assessment process, which is the backbone of OSH management. We also contribute to European cancer plan thanks to our participation in the Roadmap on carcinogens and our Worker exposure survey on cancer risk factors in Europe.

Research and data collection, both at EU and national level, are essential for the prevention of work-related diseases and accidents. EU-OSHA’s ESENER survey and OSH overviews, for example, support evidence-based policy-making and contribute to the framework’s goals of addressing change, prevention and preparedness. of OHS.

In addition, EU-OSHA raises awareness. The main way it gets its message out to workplaces across Europe is through Campaigns for healthy workplaces. The 2023-2025 campaign will aim for a safe and healthy digital future and will include topics such as telecommuting, working on digital platforms, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics. All of these activities are in line with the European Commission’s Vision Zero approach to eliminating work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses.

Together we are building a strong case for a high level of OSH protection. Besides the need to protect human life, there is also a strong economic argument. Research shows that work-related accidents and illnesses cost the EU economy more than 3.3% of GDP per year. It is estimated that for every euro that a company invests in OSH, it will receive twice as much in return.

Going forward, EU-OSHA will join EU institutions, Member States, social partners and other relevant OSH stakeholders at an OSH Summit in 2023 under the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. The gathering will build on the momentum and build on the accomplishments so far. Participants will take stock of the progress of the strategic framework and reflect on adaptations in light of the rapidly changing world of work.

This article reflects the views of the author and not those of The Parliament Magazine or the Dods Group

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