EC will act soon

IF – 03/2022

On March 10, a resolution about the "New EU strategic framework for health and safety at work beyond 2020" was adopted in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The report from Marianne Vind (S&D/DK), a member of the European Parliament (MEP), was adopted by a clear majority (551 votes in favour, 30 against,110 abstentions).

Requests sent to the European legislators

The main demands of the Members of the European Parliament sent to the EC are to further strengthen how worker’s health and safety are being protected. It also calls for improved workplace protection for workers during any future public health crises. This is a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and is based on prevention ideas. Another demand is the need to update the rules for teleworking, including the right to be unavailable.

 A rising number of mental illnesses in Europe

Member states should develop national preparedness plans as part of their national occupational health and safety strategies through integrating mental health protection. Special attention should be paid to the mental health of workers, including those involved in healthcare and other essential workers.

Right of non-availability

The EC was asked to take seriously the previously adopted resolution of January 2021 about the "Right to be unavailable" in order to increase the prevention of workplace risks such as anxiety, depression, burnout and stress.

Reducing occupational accidents through prevention

The EC should prepare a roadmap for reducing occupational accidents and fatalities. The objective here should be to attain Vision Zero, i.e. to completely avoid occupational accidents. MEPs are also calling for a much stronger focus on prevention strategies such as strengthening industrial inspectorates, national health and safety services and social partner dialogues. Consideration should also be given to ageing workforces, employees with chronic illnesses, and the need to adapt workplaces to meet the needs of employees with disabilities. The need to protect caregivers also plays a special role here.

Health care workers come into focus

In particular, the protection given to health sector employees who are exposed to hazardous substances must be improved. This needs to be implemented quickly within the healthcare sector. Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, stressed in the political debate that prevention is the key and no one should suffer work-related illnesses or accidents. He also mentioned the initiatives about hazardous substances and told everyone that the EC is already planning its next proposal for revising exposure limits for specific substances and will also propose revising the limits for another 25 substances by the end of the year.