EP Committee calls for a culture of prevention at the workplace

The European Parliament's Employment Committee has adopted a report on the Commission’s Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work, a programme guiding the EU’s efforts in this domain until 2020. The Committee acknowledged that ageing is a major challenge and calls for a comprehensive culture of prevention. It emphasises that simplified regulation should not happen at the detriment of worker’s protection, but should help companies to better comply with legislation.

Commission roadmap for health and safety until 2020

The European Commission has released the Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 in late 2014. The framework put the emphasis on non-legislative actions to reach out to small and medium-sized enterprises, explore new and emerging risks such as psycho-social conditions or exposure to new materials and the exchange of practices. The new Juncker Commission has announced a ‘refit’ exercise for health and safety regulation, meaning it will be reviewed with the aim of simplification. Doubts are cast by trade unions that this might mean a reduction of safety standards. The Commission’s view is that legislation can be simplified without lowering protection.

EMPL Committee: hold up the protection of workers, explore new risks

The Employment Committee's report highlights again that lower protection for workers is not acceptable, but that ‘improving the quality’ of the regulatory framework is positive.  The Committee asks that new and emerging risks such as nanomaterials, musculoskeletal disorders. On psycho-social disorders, the Parliament calls for systematic monitoring of stress, burnout and depression and for specific programmes that should develop recommendations on these risks.

Importance of gender mainstreaming in OSH policies

The Committee also calls for more attention to be paid to groups of workers, such as domestic workers who often operate outside of all health and safety frameworks. All occupational health and safety measures should include a gender dimension, looking at the specific risks of women and at sectors where the workforce is predominantly composed of women.

OSH policies to tackle ageing of the workforce

Importantly, the Committee considers sound health and safety rules as a way to provide healthy work environments throughout people’s working life and enabling them to work up to statutory retirement age. The Committee also stresses the importance of preventive policies and workplace health promotion, as a way to foster a ‘culture of prevention’ starting already with apprenticeships.

AGE: pension reforms cannot succeed without prevention and protection

AGE Platform Europe has repeatedly called for comprehensive health and safety policies, including legislative obligations for employers, as a way to promote health prevention of risks. Occupational health and safety rules have a key role to create the physical and mental capacity to cope with longer working lives, and therefore are also key to the success of pension reforms. The gender aspects and new forms of risks have to be taken as seriously as traditional risks that are already enshrined in legislation.

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For more information, please contact Philippe Seidel at the AGE Secretariat:Philippe.seidel@age-platform.eu

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