The responsible rapporteur, Marianne Vind (MEP), has presented a draft report on the new "EU Strategic Framework for
Health and Safety at Work 2021 - 2027" (see report 7/2021), which will also address better protection of
workers from exposure to harmful substances, stress at work and injuries caused
by repetitive movements (only available in English). In principle, the
strategic framework presented by the EU Commission in June, and in particular
the introduction of the "Vision Zero" concept for occupational
accidents and diseases, is welcomed. However, additional legislative measures
are necessary to achieve the "Vision Zero" concept.
Reduce exposure to hazardous substances
Among other things, the continuous revision
of Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to
exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work is called for, so that the occupational
exposure limits contained in the Directive apply to at least 50 priority
substances by 2024. The calls to reduce the exposure limit of asbestos to 0.001 fibres/cm3 (1,000
fibres/m3) in order to protect workers and to present an EU
framework directive for national asbestos abatement strategies are also
Addressing psycho-social risks
The draft also contains far-reaching
demands on the subject of "mental health at the workplace". Directive
89/391/EC on the introduction of measures to improve the safety and health of
workers at work has proved insufficient to deal with psycho-social risks. MEPs
would like the European Commission to be more ambitious in tackling
psycho-social risks and enforcing the right of non-availability.
The European Commission should propose a
directive on psycho-social risks aimed at effectively preventing, among other
things, anxiety, depression, burnout and stress at the workplace. The European
Commission should seek recognition of anxiety, depression and burnout as
occupational diseases, establish mechanisms for their prevention and for the
reintegration of affected workers into the workplace, and move from measures at
individual level to an approach based on work organisation.
A first debate of the competent
"Committee on Employment and Social Affairs" on the draft report is
scheduled for 26 October 2021. The Committee is currently scheduled to act on
the report on 26 January 2022.
Keeping pace with change
The "Employment and Social
Affairs" Council also considered the new EU Strategic Framework for
Health and Safety at Work 2021 - 2027 at its meeting on 15 October 2021. The policy debate focused on the main challenges in the
implementation of the Strategic Framework, the actions considered necessary at
European level and the role of occupational health and safety measures in
making work more sustainable.
The world of work is facing a number of
significant challenges, including demographic change, which is leading to a
decline in the working age population. This would jeopardise the stability of
labour markets and social protection systems in the EU. It is, therefore,
crucial to have working conditions that enable everyone to work sustainably and
help people to stay in work. The key is to ensure a high level of health and
safety at work.
Ministers welcomed the new strategic
framework, which will help ensure that occupational health and safety standards
meet the needs of the changing world of work.