Council conclusions on the impact of new forms of work.

SW – 07/2019

On 13 June, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council adopted its conclusions ‘The changing world of work: reflections on new forms of work and implications for the safety and health of workers’.

Impact of new forms of work on safety and health at work

Digitalisation, robotics, artificial intelligence and the expansion of the digital platform economy are increasingly changing the labour market. This can have positive effects; for example, new job opportunities or better social inclusion. However, these developments also harbour risks, such as potential isolation from a collaborative work environment, de-socialisation and blurring of the boundaries between work and private life. New challenges are emerging for the safety and health of workers, with consequences for work organisation. 

Ensuring occupational health and safety in new forms of work

The Council wants to make sure that these issues are addressed. In its conclusions, it stresses that the principle of decent work enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and the idea of fairer working conditions, including occupational safety and health measures, apply to all workers, irrespective of the size of the company and the nature and duration of the employment relationship. In this context, the Council emphasises the importance of its Recommendation 2003/134/EC of 18 February 2003 on improving the health and safety at work of self-employed workers and its implementation in the context of new forms of work.


In this Recommendation, the Council stated that accidents at work and occupational diseases suffered by self-employed workers can result in significant costs to society and great human suffering for those concerned. The Council therefore focused its recommendation on the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases among self-employed workers. Among other things, Member States were encouraged to take the necessary measures to ensure that self-employed workers receive information and easy access to training on the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases without excessive expense.


In its conclusions, the Council calls on the Member States to explore approaches, in accordance with Union and national law, which guarantee safety and health in new forms of work, without restricting employer’ obligations to protect the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to their work. Member States should also ensure that labour inspectors are adequately trained to respond to new challenges. The Council also wishes to strengthen cooperation between the labour inspectorates of the Member States. The aim is to exchange best practices and to actively cooperate within the framework of the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee, a body comprised of representatives from the labour inspectorates of the Member States. 

Work 4.0 needs Prevention 4.0

Accident insurance institutions are also faced with the task of providing prevention services and finding ways of reaching insured persons that are effective in the changing world of work. In its publication ‘New Forms of Work - New Forms of Prevention - Work 4.0: Opportunities and Challenges’, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) looked at the most important developments in the world of work. In keeping with its mandate of effectively adapting prevention concepts to new forms of work and requirements, the publication highlights the impact on the working population as well as solutions for modern prevention work.

Occupational health and safety in the spotlight of the Finnish Council Presidency

The Finnish Presidency of the Council has focused on the issue of occupational health and safety in view of longer working lives. A competitive and socially inclusive EU is one of the Council Presidency’s priorities. In order to promote inclusive growth, longer working careers must be promoted by means of occupational health and safety measures, public health policy and part-time work regulations.

For example, the Finnish Presidency supports the ‘Roadmap on Carcinogens’, a programme co-founded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work to raise awareness of the risks of carcinogens in the workplace. The Presidency plans to hold a conference entitled ‘Working together to eliminate work-related cancer’ from 27 to 28 November.