Does the new OSH EU Strategic Framework 2021-2027 benefit the education sector?

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On 28 June 2021, the European Commission launched its New Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work (OSH 2021-2027). Based on Principle 10 of the European Pillar of Social Rights and following the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the framework identifies new priorities and actions to improve working conditions in a post-pandemic context.

The framework is developed around three core objectives. The first is to manage change at the workplace which stems from green, digital and demographic transitions. Second, to increase workplaces preparedness for future health crises and lastly, improve the prevention of work-related diseases and accidents. The framework also commits to a “vision zero” approach to eliminating work-related deaths in the EU. Indeed, while there has been a steadily decreasing trend in work-related accidents and deaths, according to the European Commission, 200.000 work-related deaths are recorded each year.

Within the new Strategic Framework, the European Commission commits to putting forward a series of initiatives, including:

  • Recognise COVID-19 as a work-related disease by 2022;
  • Launch an “EU-OSHA healthy workplaces campaign 2023-2025” with a particular focus on psychosocial and ergonomic risks at work;
  • Review the Workplaces Directive and the Display Screen Equipment Directive by 2023 in light of the impact of digitalisation;
  • Support awareness raising on musculoskeletal disorders, mental health, workplace harassment and gender bias;
  • Follow-up on the resolution on the right to disconnect approved by the European Parliament;
  • Propose limit values on asbestos in the Asbestos at Work Directive by 2022;
  • Encourage social partners to find commonly agreed solutions for the challenges emerging from digitalisation and the right to disconnect.

The Strategic Framework was further presented and discussed by OSH experts, representatives of the Commission and the Slovenian Presidency in a conference organised by EU-OSHA on 5 July 2021. ETUCE welcomes the publication of the new Strategic Framework, especially at a time where the health and safety of workplaces in education have been particularly under threat. We support that the Commission's initiative addresses new emerging challenges such as the right to disconnect and the green and digital transition, as well as mentions the crucial role of social partners in implementing these initiatives. Nevertheless, ETUCE particularly regrets the lack of effective initiatives to countering psychosocial risks. Education is, indeed, one of the most exposed sectors to psychosocial risks, and their impact has exacerbated even more during the COVID-19 crisis.

Commenting on the new OSH 2021-2027 Strategic Framework, the European Director, Susan Flocken, said: “The absence of a legislative initiative on mental health in this initiative is particularly regrettable. Prioritising the mental health and well-being of our teachers and other education personnel is essential to ensure high-quality education, particularly in the context of Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. ETUCE will take further actions and will keep advocating for effective measures to counter psychosocial risks in education”.

Read more:

Strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027

The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles

EU-OSHA Conference on Social Europe’s New Framework for Safer and Healthier Work