Magazine ed*
ed* No. 01/2017

Safety and health in the workplace

ed* No. 01/2017 – Chapter 5

The umbrella associations of the German social insurance system believe that the aim of the EU Commission must not only be to ensure “an adequate level of protection from all risks that may arise at work” but also to not tolerate any fatal or serious accidents in accordance with Vision Zero. Similarly, it is necessary to ensure that employees are comprehensively protected against work-related health hazards and occupational diseases through extensive prevention measures.  


A comprehensive approach to prevention also includes increased efforts to restore or improve capacity to work through rehabilitation and reintegration, particularly for older people or people with disabilities. After all, it is the social insurance providers who bear the financial burden when efforts fail to maintain or restore capacity to work and employability. As such, prevention and rehabilitation will have to become even more important in the future.  


In terms of the digitalisation of the world of work and the new forms of work associated with this, prevention work in the future will also change. In the experience of the statutory social insurance providers in Germany, solutions can best be found under practical conditions and at national level. Therefore, answers are best found by each of the individual Member States.  


In recent years, the EU Commission has already established a core set of social rights in the area of occupational health and safety (OSH), while also granting the Member States the right to enact rules and regulations that go beyond European minimum standards. A review of the 24 OSH Directives in terms of their relevance, effectiveness and coherence is welcomed. Firstly, this will maintain a high degree of safety and health in the workplace given emerging risks and, secondly, it will modernise and simplify the European OSH system. A consistent minimum standard of protection is worth striving for but this must in no way jeopardise national standards that are already higher.