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OSH as economic success factor

Despite positive developments, the EESC sees room for improvement.

RD – 09/2019

Following a hearing of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the costs and benefits of investments in occupational safety and health, the EESC has published a draft opinion bearing the same name which was prepared by rapporteur Adam Rogalewski (Workers – GRII/Poland). We reported on the hearing in July 2019.

OSH contributes to economic success

As can be seen in the draft report, studies conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) have shown that investing in occupational health and safety not only increases employee satisfaction, but also increases profits. This is primarily attributable to cost savings and increased productivity. The significance of these savings is reflected by the fact that it is estimated that 3.3% of European GDP is spent on dealing with work-related injuries and diseases.  The number of accidents in Europe resulting in compensation was more than 3.2 million (excluding deaths).

Challenges

There are many new challenges which need to be addressed, such as job quality, equality and digitalisation.

 

Accordingly, the list of recommendations for improvements is long. Particular emphasis is placed on support for SMEs, tailoring solutions to the needs of workers and digitalisation. For example, the shortcomings in OSH organisation in SMEs should be overcome and companies should be given targeted financial support with adequate incentive systems for implementing occupational safety and health.

One of the greatest challenges is the increase in psychosocial risks. The causes of these risks are unknown, so it is important to pay attention to related factors, such as new workflows resulting from digitalisation, presenteeism, etc. Suggestions include ensuring standard working conditions that are individually tailored to the worker.

Right to OSH

In addition to social and societal objectives, the report states that OSH is not only a societal responsibility, but also a fundamental labour right. Accordingly, there is also a demand to make access to OSH possible irrespective of gender, ethnicity, age and disability. Ideally, this should cover all countries worldwide, or at least those countries with which the EU has ratified trade agreements.

Dynamic joint process

Ultimately, OSH represents a process that permanently adapts to the constantly changing world of work. It is important to put in place interdisciplinary measures and ensure the exchange of good practices between Member States. The social partners and relevant organisations also play an important role. Investment in occupational safety and health will result in benefits if there is solid cooperation between all those involved.