More challenges for occupational safety and health in the future

The future is not all rosy according to EU occupational safety and health
experts. An overview of what we are in for has just been published by the
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in a working paper for the
European Commission entitled Priorities for occupational safety and health
research in the EU-25.

'The nature and organisation of work are changing, becoming more client- and
knowledge-driven' explains Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Director of the European
Agency for Safety and Health at Work. 'Europe's workforce has also been
changing; it is ageing, less male-dominated, more precarious and more difficult
to monitor, as it has spread out into small companies. As a consequence, health
issues have become more complex and we need to find new ways to approach
occupational safety and health research and prevention'.

For instance, workers' difficulty in achieving a balance between working and
non-working time has been a growing concern. The problem is compounded by the
increasing proportion of households with 'dual careers' and dependent older
relatives. It is also affected by what has been termed 'atypical work':
temporary agency work, part-time work or jobs with 'unsocial hours'. All this
can easily contribute to work-related stress and also act as a barrier to the
recruitment or retention of certain groups into the workforce.

The report also mentions the necessity to conduct more research into preventing
psychological violence at work, i.e. all types of harassment or mobbing. The
European Commission has recently highlighted the importance of the topics
addressed in this section of the report by publishing a call for research
proposals to investigate 'work-related stress including physical and
psychological violence such as harassment, bullying, and mobbing'.

But the future risks are by no means limited to the psychosocial issues only.
Other concerns include musculoskeletal disorders and risks caused by dangerous
substances. The rapid growth of nanotechnology, for instance, has led to the
exposure of workers to nanoparticles, while exposure assessment and measurement
methods are still very much at an experimental stage.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work