The new Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work, presented by the European Commission in June, identifies seven strategic objectives for the years 2014-2020. It proposes key actions and instruments for promoting workers’ health and safety in Europe.
These actions should be implemented or developed in close cooperation with the member states, the social partners and other stakeholders.
Specifically, the seven strategic objectives of the Strategic Framework 2014-2020 are:
1) Consolidate national OSH strategies. Among other actions, it is recommended to review the implementation of national OSH strategies in consultation with social partners.
2) Facilitate compliances with OSH legislation, particularly at the level of micro and small enterprises.
3) Better enforce OSH legislation by the member states. The recommended action foresees to improve labour inspections in particular.
4) Simplify existing OSH legislation.
5) Address the ageing of the workforce. This means at the level of action to promote the identification and exchange of good practice on ways to improve OSH conditions for specific categories of workers. The European Agency for Occupational Health and Safety (EU OSHA) should identify and disseminate good practice on preventing mental health problems at work.
6) Improve statistical data collection on occupational health and safety.
7) Better coordinate EU and international efforts to address OSH and engage with international organisations. It is recommended for action to support candidate countries and potential candidate countries in their efforts to align their OSH legislation and to strengthen OSH cooperation with international organisations (ILO, WHO).
The seven objectives intent to meet three major challenges. The first challenge is the need to improve the implementation of risk prevention measures in the member states, especially at the level of small and medium-sized enterprises. Second, occupational diseases should be prevented better by tackling existing risks and taking into account new risks. Third, demographic change and the ageing of the EU’s workforce needs to be addressed by the new OSH Framework. If people are expected to work longer in life, occupational health and safety needs to enable a sustainable working life.
Although legislation remains key for OSH management, the framework foresees also other non-legislative tools, such as benchmarking, identifying and exchanging good practices, awareness-raising, setting voluntary norms and user-friendly IT tools.
Synergies shall be explored between contributions of the EU social dialogue at cross-industry or sectoral level and the implementation of EU strategic priorities on OSH but also with other policy areas, such as education, research or equality.
With regard to social dialogue, the work of EU social partners and their national affiliates in relation to OSH will continue to be supported by the European Commission. In particular, the social dialogue committees are invited to consider how to reach micro and small enterprises effectively (enterprises with fewer than 50 employees whose annual turnover does not exceed 10 million Euro).
EU funding, such as the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, will be available to support the implementation of health and safety rules for the 2014-2020 period.
Regarding communication and information, the European Commission plans to encourage wider stakeholder involvement including social partners. Media, internet, online applications and social networks shall be used to reach young workers, in particular.