EU Council of Ministers calls for a new approach to Occupational Health and Safety


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The EPSCO Council gathers Ministers of Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs from EU member states. On 10 December 2019, they adopted a Council Conclusion which invites the European Commission to develop a new EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at work (OSH).

ETUCE welcomes this positive development, because the changing world of work requires an ambitious new approach in the field of health and safety. Bold steps expanding the coverage of OSH legislation at European level would help better protect education personnel and all workers across Europe.

Ensuring the health and safety of workers should be a key priority for policymakers. Every year more than 3 million work-related accidents take place in the EU, of which 4000 are fatal. 120 000 people die of work-related cancer each year. Faced with such dire figures, it is vital that we put OSH at the top of the political agenda. Therefore, ETUCE welcomes the adoption of Council Conclusions calling on the European Commission to create an updated EU Strategic Framework on OSH for the period 2021-2027.

Education workers are among those who need better protection. They face occupational hazards in their everyday work — including but not limited to psychosocial hazards — which can lead to severe and long-lasting health problems. Psychosocial hazards are complex. Tackling them requires strong political will and consultation with trade unions. We believe that an ambitious EU Strategic Framework can pave the way to better rules and practices that will protect workers across Europe from work-related ill health.

With this clear demand from European governments, the time to act is now. We previously highlighted that the EU Strategic Framework for the period 2014-2020 was adopted with a two-years delay, causing a gap in EU-wide strategic action to protect working people. Any delay in developing and adopting this new Strategic Framework would leave workers in danger. This would be a huge setback to the improvement of Occupational Health and Safety measures at European level, 30 years after the adoption of the seminal EU OSH Framework Directive.