New EU Strategy

The European Commission has launched a new five-year strategy for Safety and
Health at work. It aims at cutting by a quarter work-related illness and
accidents across the EU.

The new European Strategy will cover the period of 2007 to 2012 and pursue the
positive trends of the previous Community Strategy 2002-2006 which is already
bearing fruit. Over the period 2002-2004, the rate of fatal accidents at work
in the EU-15 has fallen by 17% while the rate of workplace accidents leading to
absences of more than three days has fallen by 20%.

As promoted in the previous Community strategy evaluation, a particular
emphasis is placed on partnership at European and national levels to achieve
good results in safety and health.

Main challenges concerning health and safety at work

In spite of the progress achieved, the latest results of the  fourth European
survey of working conditions show that many workers in Europe continue to
perceive that their jobs pose a threat to their health or safety:

  • almost 28% of workers in Europe say that they suffer from non-accidental
    health problems which are or may be caused or exacerbated by their current or
    previous job;
  • 35% of workers on average feel that their job puts their health at risk.

Moreover, occupational hazards are not being reduced in a uniform way:

  • some categories of workers are still overexposed to occupational risks (young
    workers, workers whose jobs are insecure, older workers and migrant workers);

  • certain types of companies are more vulnerable (SMEs, in particular, have
    fewer resources to put complex systems of worker protection in place, while
    some of them tend to be more affected by the negative impact of health and
    safety problems);

    certain sectors are still particularly dangerous (construction/civil
    engineering, agriculture, fishing, transport, health care and social services).

Objectives of the Community strategy 2007-2012

The European Commission has set itself an ambitious overall objective: to
reduce by 25% the total incidence rate of accidents at work per 100 000 workers
in the EU 27 for the period 2007-2012.

In order to achieve this goal, the following main instruments are proposed:

  1. guarantee the proper implementation of EU legislation;

  2. support SMEs in the implementation of the legislation in force;

  3. adapt the legal framework to changes in the workplace and simplify it,
    particularly in view of SMEs;

  4. promote the development and implementation of national strategies;

  5. encourage changes in the behaviour of workers and encourage their employers
    to adopt health-focused approaches;

  6. finalise the methods for identifying and evaluating new potential risks;

  7. improve the tracking of progress;

  8. promote health and safety at international level.

More information

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