Showcasing Education Social partner initiatives on OSH management in education


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On 26 April 2023, ETUCE contributed to the online workshop “OSH Management in the Education Sector - what are European workplaces telling us?” by the European Agency for Occupational Health and Safety (EU-OSHA). The main purpose of the event was to present and reflect on the findings of The European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) in which ETUCE has actively participated. The report provides overarching insights into the occupational safety and health (OSH) regulatory context and its implementation to address OSH risks in the education sector.

Opening the meeting, Ioannis Anyfantis and Xabier Irastorza (EU-OSHA) gave an overview of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risk (ESENER) project in the education sector. The survey was conducted three times between 2009 and 2019 across 33 countries. It addressed a wide variety of OSH challenges, including psychosocial risks, worker participation, OSH drivers and barriers, and management. As for the education sector, the study found that OSH risks are significant, particularly psychosocial risks and musculoskeletal disorders, which the pandemic and the digital transformation of educational settings have intensified.

During the workshop, ETUCE and EFEE policy officers presented the work of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee in Education (ESSDE) on occupational health and safety. The ESSDE work has been developed around five thematic priorities: psychosocial risks, working conditions and attractiveness of the teaching profession, violence and harassment, digitalisation, and risk assessment. In this context, ETUCE emphasised the worsening mental health and well-being of the teaching profession due to growing expectations and demands in the classroom, exacerbated by low salaries and unclear definitions of working time amid a sharp teacher shortage across Europe. Violence and harassment in education and the impact of digitalisation on occupational health and safety were also discussed as critical issues affecting the education sector.

The last part of the workshop was dedicated to the presentation of the OiRA tool in education by Julia Flintrop and Michaela Seifert (EU-OSHA). OiRA is an online interactive Risk Assessment tool that supports education institutions identify and assess workplace risks. The tool aims to assist organisations in fulfilling their legal obligations related to risk assessment, as required by the European OSH Framework Directive. The European Social Partners in education have been closely working with EU-OSHA for the development of two European OiRA tools on early childhood education and secondary education. Currently, they are developing a new European OiRA tool for the higher education and research sector supported by EU-OSHA. Various national tools have been developed and adopted across different EU member states, which are tailored to the specific needs of each country, such as being available in the national language and reflecting the national legal framework.

Overall, the meeting provided valuable cross-national evidence to be considered on the main occupational health and safety challenges in the education sector. The event was also important to underpin the close cooperation between European Sectoral Social Partners in Education and EU-OSHA to ensure healthy and safe teaching and learning environment.

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OiRA tools for the Education Sector