The new strategy for Health and Safety in the EU
July 25, 2014
The EU has recently released a follow up to their 2007-2012 occupational health and safety strategy. The results from the previous framework have been evaluated, and have allowed the European Commission to highlight areas that need reviewing and adapt the new framework to take into account new and emerging risks. Contributions from worker and employer representatives have also been taken into account along with stakeholder opinions and discussions from major conferences. The result comes in the form of the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020.
What is it?
The European Commission has the task of ensuring the protection of over 217 million people working within the EU. This includes safeguarding against both work-related accidents and diseases caused by a work environment. The EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 outlines how the European Commission will continue to promote high standards of health and safety in workplaces across Europe and internationally.
What challenges do they face?
In the EU, over 3 million workers every year fall victim to serious injury as a result of a work related incident. On top of this over 4,000 people die each year from incidents within the workplace.  With this in mind, the challenges the European Commission is set to face have been condensed within the framework into 3 main points.
- Improve how current health and safety rules are implemented across work environments by strengthening the facilities small organisations have at their disposal, in order to put in place more effective risk prevention strategies.
- Continue to challenge existing risks to health in the workplace, improving prevention techniques while providing new solutions to emerging risks.
- Focus on the ageing EU workforce and the issues surrounding this.
What are the objectives?
Within the Strategic Framework, 7 key objectives are outlined.  These key points aim to tackle the challenges above, in order to improve health and safety. The objectives are based on specific areas the European Commission aims to prioritise. These objectives include sustainable growth through better education, and investments in research and innovation. Inclusion has also been noted as a priority, in particularly creating jobs and reducing poverty across the EU. The seven strategic points that will address both the challenges and priorities are:
- Enforcement – Improve the enforcement of health and safety rules within the 28 EU member states and evaluate performance
- Combine strategies – Pull together national health and safety strategies, policies and challenges in order to form better assessments and solutions.
- Simplify – Rid existing legislations of unnecessary administrative activities, while keeping those necessary for preserving a high level of protection in the workplace.
- Technical assistance – Provide smaller organisations with the help and support needed to put in place technical risk assessments and the tools to evaluate this data and put in place an effective strategy.
- Ageing EU workers – Improve prevention of work place diseases while taking into account new and existing risks surrounding the ageing workforce.
- Data Collection – Improve the monitoring, collection, and evaluation of statistical data in order to develop better, more targeted solutions.
- Coordination – Working together with international organisations, for example International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in order to improve working conditions.
What is the industry opinion?
After launching this strategic framework, the EU has received criticism from the European Trade Union. They have expressed their dissatisfaction with the document, labelling it as “weak and unsubstantial.”  They claim the proposals made are not set in stone and no specific details were laid out to improve health and safety across the EU. A recent survey from Euro barometer shows that only half (53%) of European workers consider the working conditions in their country to be of a good condition. However, on average 77% of EU workers say they are satisfied with their own working conditions.
The previous Health and Safety Strategy from the European Commission was considered successful, helping to reduce the number of accidents and incident related absences of more than three days by 27.9% across the EU. Despite these figures, the most recent Strategy and Framework, covering 2014 – 2020 must meet the objectives and succeed in improving health and safety within EU workplaces and gain the trust and approval of those who have criticised the strategy.
As stated in the above objectives, data collection and technical assistance has been highlighted as an area of importance in order to improve health and safety. At Airsweb, we have always seen the value of improved analysis of data and have built up a reputation as a leading QHSE software solutions provider over the last 15 years.
Could the health and safety solutions within your business be improved through better monitoring and analysis of data? If yes, or if you are unsure, then contact our knowledgeable team today for more information and advice about how Airsweb could benefit your organisation and most importantly your staff. Call 0151 289 6811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.