Category Archives: Health Hygiene and Safety at Work

Although one of the goals of the European Union is to create employment through the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, it also tries to ensure that these new jobs are of a higher quality. Health and safety at work is now one of the most important and most advanced areas of EU social policy. Community action in this area is not limited to legislation. The European Institutions carry out several activities providing information and guidance and promoting a safe and healthy working environment in cooperation with the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Exposure to carcinogens and mutagens

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2004/37/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work (Sixth individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Council Directive 89/391/EEC).

Summary

This Directive does not apply to workers exposed only to the forms of radiation covered by the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom Treaty). It applies to workers exposed to asbestos when its provisions are more favourable than those of Directive 83/477/EEC (as last amended by Directive 2003/18/EC).
Directive 89/391/EEC applies in full, without prejudice to more binding and/or more specific provisions contained in this Directive.

In the case of any activity likely to carry the risk of exposure to carcinogens or mutagens, the nature, degree and duration of workers’ exposure must be determined on a regular basis in order to assess any risk to workers’ health or safety and decide the steps to be taken. All routes of exposure must be taken into account, including absorption into and/or through the skin. Particular attention must be paid to workers who are especially at risk.

EMPLOYERS’ OBLIGATIONS

Reduction and replacement

Employers must reduce the use of a carcinogen or mutagen, particularly by replacing it, as far as is technically possible, with a substance, preparation or process that is not dangerous or is less dangerous.

Prevention and reduction of exposure

Employers must ensure that the carcinogen or mutagen is manufactured and used in a closed system. If this is not technically possible, employers must ensure that the level of exposure is as low as is technically possible.
Exposure must not exceed the limits set out in Annex III.

Information for the competent authority

Employers must provide the competent authority, on request, with information relating to such matters as the reasons for using carcinogens or mutagens, the preventive measures taken and the number of workers exposed.

Unforeseeable exposure

In the event of unforeseeable incidents or accidents likely to lead to workers being abnormally exposed, employers must inform their workers. Protective clothing and respiratory personal protective equipment must be worn, and exposure must be kept to the strict minimum necessary.

Foreseeable exposure

For certain activities, such as maintenance work, for which the likelihood of a significant increase in exposure is foreseeable and against which all preventive measures have been taken, employers must decide the measures necessary to reduce as far as possible the amount of time workers are exposed and to ensure that they are protected during these activities. Protective clothing and respiratory personal protective equipment must be worn, and exposure must be kept to the strict minimum necessary. Moreover, the areas used for such activities must be clearly demarked and indicated.

Access to risk areas

Employers must restrict access to risk areas to workers who, by virtue of their work or duties, are required to enter such areas.

Measures regarding hygiene and personal protection

Employers are required to take the following measures regarding hygiene and personal protection for all activities that carry a risk of contamination:

  • ensure that workers do no eat, drink or smoke in work areas where there is a risk of contamination;
  • supply workers with the appropriate clothes and provide separate storage places for work clothes and street clothes;
  • provide washing and toilet facilities;
  • properly store, check and clean protective equipment before and after every use.

Workers must not bear the cost of these measures.

Informing, training and consulting workers

Employers must take appropriate steps to ensure that workers and/or their representatives receive sufficient and suitable training about:

  • potential and additional health risks (smoking);
  • precautions for preventing exposure;
  • hygiene requirements;
  • protective clothing;
  • measures to be taken in the event of an incident.

Employers must ensure that containers, packages and installations containing carcinogens or mutagens are clearly and legibly labelled, and that warning signs are clearly displayed.

Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that workers are able to assess whether the Directive is being applied correctly. They must be informed as quickly as possible in the event of abnormal exposure.

Employers must have an updated list of workers undertaking activities that carry a risk to their health and safety in terms of exposure to carcinogens and mutagens.

Workers and/or their representatives must be consulted about and involved in all matters related to exposure to carcinogens and mutagens.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Health monitoring

Member States must take steps to ensure that the health of every exposed worker can be adequately monitored. These must be such that it is possible to apply individual and work-related health measures. When a worker’s health is monitored, an individual medical file is to be created.
Practical recommendations relating to the monitoring of workers’ health can be found in Annex II.
All cases of cancer identified as resulting from exposure at work must be notified to the competent authority.

Record-keeping

The up-to-date list of workers who have been exposed, which the employer is required to keep, and individual medical files are to be kept for at least 40 years after the end of exposure.

Limit values

The Council sets out in directives, where possible, limit values for all carcinogens or mutagens and, where necessary, other directly related provisions. Annex III contains the limit values for benzene, vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts.

Annexes I (list of substances, preparations and processes) and III (limit values) can be amended only by the Council (Article 137 of the EC Treaty).
Technical amendments to Annex II (practical recommendations relating to the monitoring of workers’ health) are adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 17 of Directive 89/391/EEC.

Context

This Directive is a consolidation Directive that replaces Directive 90/394/EEC and its subsequent amendments (Directive 90/394/EEC, Directive 97/42/EC and Directive 1999/38/EC). It makes no substantive changes and merely consolidates the body of texts which it replaces. The deadlines for the transposition of Directives 90/394/EEC, 97/42/EC and 1999/38/EC into national law continue to apply.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2004/37/EC

20.05.2004

Directive 90/394/EEC: 31.12.92
Directive 97/42/EC: 27.06.00
Directive 1999/38/EC:
29.04.03

OJ L 158 of 30.04.2004

Related Acts

Council Directive 1967/548/EEC of 27 June 1967 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances [Official Journal L 196 of 16.08.1967]

Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of 31 May 1999 concerning the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations [Official Journal L 200 of 30.07.1999]

Exposure to biological agents

Exposure to biological agents

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exposure to biological agents

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Exposure to biological agents

1) Objective

To establish specific minimum requirements designed to guarantee a better standard of safety and health for workers exposed to biological agents at work.

2) Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 90/679/EEC of 26 November 1990 on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work (seventh individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) [Official Journal L 374 of 31.12.1990].

Amended by the following acts:

Council Directive 93/88/EEC of 12 October 1993 [Official Journal L 268 of 29.10.1993];
Commission Directive 95/30/EC of 30 June 1995 [Official Journal L 155 of 06.07.1995];
Commission Directive 97/59/EC of 7 October 1997 [Official Journal L 282 of 15.10.1997];
Commission Directive 97/65/EC of 26 November 1997 [Official Journal L 335 of 06.12.1997].

Directive 2000/54/EC [Official Journal L 262 of 17.10.2000] codifies Directive 90/679 as well as its successive amendments. It therefore repeals these different Directives and replaces them.

3) Summary

1.Definition of terms – “Biological agents”: micro-organisms, including those which have been genetically modified, cell cultures and human endoparasites which may be able to provoke any infection, allergy or toxicity. They are classified into four groups according to their level of risk of infection. “Micro-organism”: a microbiological entity capable of replication or of transferring genetic material. “Cell culture”: the in-vitro growth of cells derived from multicellular organisms.

2. Determination and assessment of risks:

  • the nature, degree and duration of workers’ exposure must be determined for any activity likely to involve a risk;
  • the risk is assessed on the basis of the danger presented by all hazardous biological agents present and on the basis of all available information on all activities involving exposure to several groups of agents. The assessment is renewed regularly;

3. Employers’ obligations

3.1 Replacement

Replacement of a dangerous biological agent by one which is not dangerous or less dangerous, if the nature of the activity so permits.

3.2 Reduction of risks

Exposure to risks must be prevented. Where this is not technically practicable, the exposure risk must be reduced to as low a level as necessary. Nine ways of doing this are listed, e.g. limiting the number of workers exposed, collective and/or individual protection measures, means for safe collection, storage and disposal of waste by workers.

3.3. Information for the competent authority:

  • Where there is a risk, information to be supplied on:
    • the results of the assessment,
    • the activities in which workers may have been exposed,
    • the number of workers exposed,
    • the name and powers of the person responsible for safety and health,
    • the protective and preventive measures taken,
    • an emergency plan in the event of exposure to a group 3 or 4 agent;
  • Immediate information on any accident or incident which may have resulted in the release of an agent and which could cause severe human infection and/or illness;
  • Where the undertaking ceases activity, a list of workers exposed and their medical records to be made available to the competent authority.

3.4 Hygiene and individual protection

Five types of measure to be applied without cost to workers:

  • Workers not to eat or drink in working areas subject to risk;
  • Protective clothing to be supplied;
  • Adequate washing and toilet facilities to be provided, possibly with skin antiseptics and eye washes;
  • All protective equipment to be properly stored, checked and cleaned, and repaired or replaced;
  • Procedures for taking, handling and processing samples.

3.5 Information and training of workers on the potential risks to health, precautions to be taken, hygiene requirements, the use of protective equipment and clothing, and the steps to be taken by workers in the case of incidents and to prevent them.

3.6 Worker information in particular cases

  • Written instructions containing at least the procedure to be followed in the event of a serious accident or incident or for handling a group 4 agent;
  • Immediate information in the event of any accident or incident which may have resulted in the release of a group 3 or 4 biological agent, including the cause and the measures taken or to be taken;
  • Workers must immediately report any accident or incident involving the handling of a biological agent. They must have access to the information contained in the list of workers exposed, i.e. information which relates to them personally and anonymous collective information.

3.7 List of workers exposed to group 3 and/or 4 agents:

The employer indicates the type of work and the agent concerned. The list is kept for at least 10 years after the end of exposure and, in some cases, for up to 40 years after the last known exposure.

3.8 Consultation and participation of workers in connection with matters covered by the Directive.

3.9 Notification to the competent authority prior to the first use of group 2, 3 and 4 biological agents and whenever there are substantial changes of importance to safety or health.

4. Miscellaneous provisions

Health surveillance of workers subjected to risks prior to exposure and at regular intervals thereafter. Practical recommendations are given in Annex IV. If necessary, effective vaccines should be made available. Individual medical records are kept for at least 10 years after the end of exposure and in some cases for up to 40 years. The doctor responsible proposes any protective or preventive measures to be taken in respect of any worker. Workers have access to the results of the health surveillance which concern them and may request a review. All cases of diseases or death must be notified to the competent authority.

Health and veterinary care facilities other than diagnostic laboratories. These must specify appropriate decontamination and disinfection procedures and implement procedures enabling contaminated waste to be handled and disposed of without risk. Containment measures must be selected (Annex V, column A) to minimise the risk of infection in isolation facilities where there are human patients or animals infected with group 3 or 4 agents.

Special containment measures are applicable to industrial processes, laboratories and laboratory animal rooms.

Use of data. The Commission has access to the processing operations carried out by the competent national authorities based on cases of disease or death.

The Directive is without prejudice to the Directives on the confined use (90/219/EEC) and voluntary release (90/220/EEC) of genetically modified organisms.

Technical amendments to the Annexes are adopted by the Commission assisted by a committee.

4) Deadline For Implementation Of Legislation By The Member States

  • Directive 90/679/EEC:
    28.11.1993
    28.11.1995: Portugal
  • Directive 93/88/EEC:
    30.04.1994
    31.12.1995: Portugal
  • Directive 95/30/EC: 30.11.1996
  • Directive 97/59/EC: 31.03.1998
  • Directive 97/65/EC: 30.06.1998

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Above)

6) References

Official Journal L 374, 31.12.1990
Official Journal L 268, 29.10.1993
Official Journal L 155, 06.07.1995
Official Journal L 282, 15.10.1997
Official Journal L 335, 06.12.1997

7) Follow-Up Work

On 14 September 1999 the Commission presented a proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive relating to protection of workers against risks linked to exposure to biological agents at work (seventh individual directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) (codified version) [COM(99) 432 final COD990188 not yet published in the Official Journal].

Co-decision procedure
The proposal is currently at first reading before the Parliament.

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee
Official Journal C 75, 15.03.2000

8)Commission Implementing Measures

Risk of explosive atmospheres

Risk of explosive atmospheres

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Risk of explosive atmospheres

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Risk of explosive atmospheres

Document or Iniciative

Directive 1999/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1999 on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres (15th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC).

Summary

An “explosive atmosphere” is a mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gases, vapours, mists or dusts in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.

The employer must take technical and/or organisational measures to prevent the formation of explosive atmospheres, prevent the ignition of explosive atmospheres, and reduce the effects of an explosion in such a way that workers are not at risk.

The employer must ensure that a health and safety protection document, describing explosion protection measures and satisfying the requirements of Directive 89/391/EEC, is prepared and kept up to date.

Workers and/or their representatives must be informed of all the measures to be taken for their safety and health at work.

The employer must take the necessary steps to ensure that workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres receive appropriate training.

Work equipment for use in places where explosive atmospheres may occur must comply with the minimum requirements laid down in the Annex to the Directive.

Where workplaces which contain places in which explosive atmospheres may occur are already in use before the entry into force of the proposed Directive, they must comply with its minimum requirements no later than three years after its entry into force.

After consulting the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, the Commission must draw up practical guidelines in a guide to good practice of a non-binding nature.

Member States must, on request, endeavour to make relevant information available to employers, with particular reference to the guide to good practice.

Member States must report to the Commission every five years on the practical implementation of the Directive, indicating the points of view of employers and workers. The Commission must inform the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work.

Annex I contains the classification of places where explosive atmospheres may occur. Annex II describes the minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres and criteria for the selection of equipment and protective systems. Annex III presents the warning sign for places where explosive atmospheres may occur.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 1999/92/EC of 16 December 1999 from the European Parliament and the Council

OJ L 23 of 28.01.2000

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission regarding the non-mandatory guide to good practice in order to implement Directive 1999/92/EC on minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres [COM(2003) 515]

The present guide is be used alongside Directive 94/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 March 1994 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work

Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACSHW)

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2003/C 218/01 of 22 July 2003 setting up an Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work and repealing Decisions 74/325/EEC and 74/326/EEC.

Summary

This new committee takes over the activities of the two former committees which now no longer exist:

  • the Advisory Committee for Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, set up in 1974, for all economic activities except for the extractive industries and the protection of the health of workers against the dangers arising from ionising radiation;
  • the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and Other Extractive Industries, set up in 1957, whose remit was extended to all extractive industries.

This Committee has the task of assisting the Commission in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of all initiatives related to safety and health at work, in particular:

  • defining, within the framework of Community action programmes, the criteria and aims for preventing accidents at work and health hazards within the undertaking;
  • defining methods enabling undertakings and their employees to evaluate and improve the level of protection;
  • contributing, alongside the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, to keeping national administrations, trades unions and employers’ organisations informed of Community measures in order to facilitate cooperation and to encourage exchanges of experience and establish codes of practice.

In order to accomplish the above tasks, the Committee cooperates with the other committees involved in safety and health at work, inter alia with the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee and the Scientific Committee for Occupational Exposure Limits to Chemical Agents.

The Committee consists of three full members from each Member State: one government representative, one trade union representative and one employers’ representative. They are appointed by the Council for a three-year term, which is renewable.

It is chaired by a Commission official.

The Committee’s opinions are delivered by an absolute majority of the votes validly cast, and reasons are given for these opinions.

Context

Given the radical changes in working life over the past few years, the opportunities opened up by enlargement and the implementation of a new Community strategy on safety and health (2002-2006), it had become necessary to streamline the operation of the two existing advisory committees. The creation of the new Committee should allow the following objectives to be achieved:

  • extending this Committee’s role to all aspects related to safety, hygiene and health protection at work;
  • integrating the activities of the various bodies involved in defining and implementing Community policy on health and safety at work (cooperation with other advisory committees and with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work).

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2003/C 218/01

01.01.2004

Official Journal [C 218 of 13.9.2003]

Health and safety for temporary workers

Health and safety for temporary workers

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Health and safety for temporary workers

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Health and safety for temporary workers

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 91/383/EEC of 25 June 1991 supplementing the measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of workers with a fixed-duration employment relationship or a temporary employment relationship [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The European health and safety at work standards apply to all workers, including temporary workers, whose employment relationships are defined by:

  • a fixed-duration contract concluded directly between an employer and a worker under which the end of the contract is determined by objective conditions (date, completion of a specific task, etc.);
  • a temporary employment contract concluded between a temporary employment business and a worker for the purpose of carrying out a task in an undertaking under its supervision.

Directive 89/391/EEC on health and safety at work and the sectoral directives (concerning manual handling, in particular) apply to this type of employment contract.

Informing workers

Before employment commences, the undertaking must inform the temporary worker of:

  • the occupational qualifications or skills required;
  • the special medical surveillance provided for by national legislation;
  • the specific risks that the job may entail.

Workers’ training

Before undertaking an activity, the temporary worker must receive training on the characteristics and risks of the job. This training must be adapted to the worker’s level of qualifications and professional experience.

Medical surveillance

European Union (EU) Member States may prohibit the recruitment of temporary workers for work which:

  • is dangerous to their health and safety;
  • requires special medical surveillance over a long period.

If Member States do not use this option, they must ensure that appropriate medical surveillance is in place. If necessary, this surveillance may continue after the end of the temporary contract.

Responsibilities

The undertaking receiving the temporary worker shall be responsible for the conditions governing the performance of the work, in particular with regard to safety, hygiene and health. Member States may also decide to extend this responsibility to the temporary employment business.

The persons or departments responsible for ensuring that the preventive health rules are complied with must be notified of any assignment of temporary workers.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 91/383/EEC

15.7.1991

31.12.1992

L 206, 29.7.1991

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Agreement on the European Economic Area – Protocol 1 on horizontal adaptations

1.1.1994

L 1, 3.1.1994

Directive 2007/30/EC

28.6.2007

31.12.2012

OJ L 165, 27.6.2007

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 91/383/EEC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

Community strategy on health and safety at work

Community strategy on health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community strategy on health and safety at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Community strategy on health and safety at work (2002-2006)

The aim of this strategy is to facilitate the application of existing health and safety at work legislation and to come up with new ideas for the period in question. It is based on an inventory of the current situation, on the basis of which the Commission reiterates the three prerequisites for a safe and healthy workplace: consolidating risk prevention culture, better application of existing law and a global approach to well-being at work. To meet these conditions, the Community strategy proposes three main approaches: adapting the legal framework, support for innovative approaches (formulation of best practices, social dialogue, corporate social responsibility) and finally the mainstreaming of health and safety at work in other Community policies.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 11 March 2002 on a Community strategy on health and safety at work (2002-2006) [COM(2002) 118 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

1. The Lisbon European Council highlighted the fact that Europe is currently experiencing the transition to a knowledge economy characterised by profound changes in the composition of the active population, forms of employment and risks at the workplace. Identifying the various trends helps to better define the problems for which the health and safety at work strategy will have to provide solutions.

ADAPTING TO CHANGES IN THE WORLD OF WORK

Trends in the active population: feminisation and ageing

2. Trends in the active population call for a global approach to the quality of employment, taking into account the specific situation of different age brackets and the gender dimension.

3. For example, the steady rise in the numbers of women whose work calls for specific measures in some areas: women are not susceptible to the same types of occupational diseases as men and have different types of industrial accidents. The differences between the sexes must be better taken into account in the legislation. To this end, action must be taken with regard to the ergonomics of workstations, and physiological and psychological differences must be taken on board in the organisation of work.

4. By the same token, older workers (50 years plus) tend to have more serious industrial accidents leading to higher mortality, as they tend to be over-represented in the more dangerous manual occupations.

Diversification of forms of employment

5. The increase in temporary contracts and unconventional hours (shift or night work) are factors that increase the dangers to which workers are exposed. These workers are often poorly trained, sometimes demotivated because of the unstable nature of their contract and suffering from psychosomatic problems caused by their working hours. New forms of employment, such as teleworking, lead to the appearance of new problems of which more account must be taken.

The changing nature of the risks

6. Changes in work organisation (target-driven approaches and greater flexibility) have a profound effect on health at work and on the well-being of workers in general. Problems such as stress, depression, violence, harassment and intimidation at work are rising fast and, by 1999, already accounted for 18% of all work-related health problems. Strategies to prevent these new social risks should also incorporate the incidence of addictions, in particular alcoholism and drug addiction, on accident frequency.

THREE PREREQUISITES FOR A HIGH QUALITY WORKING ENVIRONMENT

A global approach to well-being at work

7. The Community’s health and safety at work policy should promote real well-being at work, be it physical, emotional or social, which is more than merely the absence of occupational accidents or diseases. To this end, the following additional measures must be taken:

  • continuing reduction in industrial accidents and occupational diseases (quantifiable objectives should be set at Community and national level);
  • prevention of social and emotional problems (stress, harassment at work, depression, anxiety and addiction);
  • better prevention of occupational diseases, in particular the diseases linked to asbestos, hearing loss and musculoskeletal complaints;
  • more consideration of demographic trends in occupational risks, accidents and diseases (older workers and protection of young people at work);
  • gender mainstreaming in risk assessment, prevention measures and compensation arrangements;
  • more consideration of changes in the forms of work and work organisation (temporary and unconventional work);
  • taking on board the specific problems of SMEs, micro-enterprises and self-employed workers.

A real culture of prevention

8. Improving knowledge of risks involves:

  • education and training (raising awareness in schools’ programmes, teaching in vocational programmes and in the context of continuing vocational training);
  • raising employers’ awareness of the issues involved in creating a well managed working environment;
  • anticipating new and emerging risks, whether linked to technological innovations or social trends (creation of a risk observatory within the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work).

This Agency should play a key role in these awareness-raising and anticipation activities.

Better application of existing law

9. The proper application of Community law is a prerequisite for improving the quality of the working environment. The Commission, in conjunction with the social partners, will accordingly be drafting guides to applying the relevant directives which will take into account the diversity of companies and sectors of activity. Moreover, the Commission will be developing activities to encourage, through close collaboration between the national authorities, the correct and equivalent implementation of the directives. In this context, the development of joint inspection objectives and joint methods of assessment for the national inspection systems must be promoted, and the inspections carried out by the inspectorates in the Member States must lead to uniform penalties which are dissuasive, proportionate and effectively applied.

A GLOBAL APPROACH COMBINING LEGAL INSTRUMENTS AND PARTNERSHIPS

10. Promoting a high-quality work environment, taking on board the three dimensions above, calls for a global approach based on all the available mechanisms.

Adapting the legal and institutional framework:

  • adapting existing directives to scientific developments and technological progress;
  • analysing the national reports on the application of the directives in order to identify the difficulties faced by the various actors in the implementation of the legislation;
  • new provisions, including extending the scope of the Directive on carcinogens, creating a new legislative framework on the ergonomics of workstations, a communication on musculoskeletal disorders and new legislation on emerging risks (inter alia, bullying and violence at work);
  • streamlining the legal framework: codifying the existing directives and drafting a single implementation report to replace the specific reports provided for in the various directives;
  • merger of the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work and the Safety and Health Commission for the Mining and Other Extractive Industries.

Support for innovative approaches:

  • Benchmarking and the identification of best practices should:

    – promote convergence in the Member States, with the setting of national objectives to cut accidents, occupational diseases and lost days as a result of accidents or illnesses;
    – lead to a better definition of emerging phenomena such as stress-related complaints and illnesses and musculoskeletal disorders;
    – develop knowledge of and monitor the economic and social costs of accidents and occupational diseases.

  • Voluntary agreements concluded by the social partners

    Social dialogue and action by the inter-professional and sectoral social partners are good ways of tackling the specific risks and problems of particular occupations and sectors. They often lead to the drafting of good practices, codes of conduct or even framework agreements.

  • The social responsibility of businesses and competitiveness

    Many companies consider creating a safe and healthy working environment to be an important criterion in their choice of subcontractors and the marketing of their products. Health and safety at work is being included ever more often in voluntary certification and labelling initiatives. A healthy working environment is part of a global approach to managing quality which leads to better performance and competitiveness. The relationship between health and safety at work and competitiveness is more complicated than just the cost of complying with certain standards. In fact, the absence of a policy can lead to a loss of productivity which is far worse in terms of cost.

  • Economic incentives

    The fixing of insurance premiums for companies on the basis of their accident frequency represents a real financial incentive. This practice should be applied more systematically.

Mainstreaming of health and safety at work in other Community policies

11. Well-being at work cannot be achieved exclusively through health and safety policy. It is closely linked to other Community policies, such as the European Employment Strategy, public health policy, the placing on the market of work equipment and chemical products and other protection policies based on prevention (e.g. in transport, fishing, the environment).

THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION TO HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK

Preparation for enlargement

12. The following measures should be applied in order to ensure the application of the acquis:

  • stepping up the technical assistance programmes and exchanges of experiences based on partnership and twinning formulas;
  • stepping up social dialogue;
  • promoting the collection and analysis of data on occupational accidents and diseases.

Development of international cooperation

13. Linking the activities of the Commission with those of other international organisations (e.g. the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation) is vital, especially in fields such as combating child labour and the impact of alcohol and drug addiction on health and safety at work.
As part of the Council’s work, this coordination has led to the adoption, in the context of International Labour Conferences, of an agreement and a recommendation on the safety and health of workers in mining and in agriculture, a protocol and a recommendation on the recording and declaration of industrial accidents and occupational diseases, including the revision of the schedule of occupational diseases, and the adoption of a resolution on safety and health at work.

Cooperation with third countries, particularly those around the Mediterranean, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) countries and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) is essential to ensure that minimum standards are respected.
Finally, the cooperation and exchanges of experiences in the field of health and safety at work developed as part of the transatlantic pact with the United States should be stepped up.

CONTEXT

14. This Strategy succeeds the 1995 Commission Communication on a Community Programme concerning safety, hygiene and heath at work (1996-2000).
At that time, the focus was on the following points:

  • the establishment and operation of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in Bilbao;
  • the correct transposition of the various directives and their practical application (assessment reports, monitoring of the labour inspectorate);
  • creating a safety culture in the business sector;
  • developing the link with employability (the quality of employees’ work depends largely on their working conditions).

Key terms used in the act

  • In 1998, 5500 workers died as a result of an occupational accident, and 4.8 million accidents led to more than three days’ absence from work. Compared to the situation in 1994, the frequency of occupational accidents has dropped by almost 10%.
  • Fishing, agriculture, building, health care and social services had rates more than 30% above the average.
  • The extractive industries, manufacturing, transport and hospitality had rates more than 15% above the average


Another Normative about Community strategy on health and safety at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Community strategy on health and safety at work (2007-2012)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 21 February 2007, entitled ‘Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work’ [COM(2007) 62 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Good health at work helps improve public health in general and also the productivity and competitiveness of businesses. Furthermore, workplace problems of health and safety exact a high cost for social protection systems and therefore workers need to be provided with suitable working conditions if their general wellbeing is to be enhanced.

The Community’s current strategy on workplace health and safety is a continuation of its strategy for 2002-2006. The previous strategy has already borne fruit: workplace accidents have been markedly fewer in number. The new 2007-2012 strategy, which is even more ambitious, is focusing on achieving a 25 % reduction in the total incidence rate of accidents at work and, in order to achieve its goal, the Commission has established six intermediate objectives, which are summarised below.

Putting in place a modern and effective legislative framework

There are sometimes serious shortcomings in the application of Community legislation on workplace health and safety. The Commission will ensure that Community directives are transposed properly (if necessary, infringement proceedings will be launched). The Commission also draws the attention of the Member States to their obligation to implement Community legislation, for which they have several methods at their disposal, e.g. training, dissemination of information, involvement of labour inspectors or use of economic incentives.

Community legislation should not only be more effectively implemented but also be applied in a uniform manner in all the Member States in order to guarantee equivalent levels of protection to all European workers. At Community level, the Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee (SLIC) will be working to develop mechanisms whereby common solutions can be found to problems specific to several Member States. The Committee will also be responsible for promoting cooperation between labour inspectorates.

In terms of worker protection, it is also essential to adapt the legal framework to changes in the world of work and to the latest technical advances. The Commission proposes to examine, for example, the possibility of launching initiatives to assess the musculo-skeletal risks involved in certain occupations and to investigate areas where carcinogens might be in use.

When all is said and done, any adaptation of the legal framework must also make that framework less complex and more effective. The Commission emphasises that simplified legislation should not lead to a reduction in existing levels of protection.

Encouraging the development and implementation of national strategies

The Commission invites the Member States to define and to adopt national strategies that are coherent with Community strategy and to establish quantitative objectives to be achieved within that context. The Commission proposes that the Member States pay particular attention to four areas:

  • prevention and health surveillance;
  • rehabilitation and reintegration of workers;
  • responses to social and demographic change (the ageing of the population, younger workers);
  • coordination between, on the one hand, policies on health and safety at work and, on the other, policies on public health, regional development and social cohesion, public procurement, employment and restructuring.

Promoting changes in behaviour

Changes in behaviour should be encouraged at all levels from primary school through to the world of work. The Commission calls upon the Member States to make wider use of the potential offered by the European Social Fund and other Community funds with a view to incorporating health and safety into education and training programmes. The raising of awareness within companies can be promoted through direct or indirect financial incentives, such as reductions in social contributions or insurance premiums, or increases in economic aid.

Confronting new and increasing risks

It is essential to step up scientific research in order to be able to anticipate, identify and respond to new workplace health and safety risks. At Community level, research in the areas of workplace health and safety is supported by the 7th framework programme for research and technological development. At national level, the Commission encourages Member States to coordinate their research programmes.

Depression is, at the present time, an increasingly important cause of incapacity for work. Mental health should be promoted in the workplace, e.g. by stepping up initiatives aimed at preventing violence and harassment in the workplace or combating stress.

Improving measurement of progress made

The Commission will ensure that statistics and information on national strategies are collected and that qualitative indicators are developed to enhance knowledge of progress achieved in the areas of health and safety at work.

Promoting health and safety at international level

The European Union is seeking to raise labour standards worldwide and will endeavour to increase its cooperation with third countries and with international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or the World Health Organisation (WHO). For example, it aims to promote implementation of the global strategy on occupational safety and health , adopted by the ILO in 2003, ratification of the promotional framework for occupational safety and health convention , adopted in 2006, and the banning of asbestos.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament of 8 November 2007 transmitting the European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work [COM(2007) 686 final [Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication relates to the European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work. It is the third autonomous agreement of its type, negotiated by the European cross-industry social partners. Its objective is to prevent and, where necessary, manage problems of bullying, harassment and physical violence in the workplace. Such situations are roundly condemned by the social partners, which call upon European companies to adopt a policy of zero tolerance.
The European framework agreement on harassment and violence at work was signed on 26 April 2007 by the ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME and CEEP.

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Self-employed workers: health and safety at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC of 18 February 2003 concerning the improvement of the protection of the health and safety at work of self-employed workers.

Summary

This recommendation concerns workers who exercise their occupational activity in a manner which does not involve an employment relationship with an employer or, more generally, does not make them subordinate to a third person.

Although self-employed workers are not covered by the Directives on health and safety at work, notably Directive 89/391/EEC, they are very often subject to health and safety risks similar to those experienced by employees.
Moreover, there are a large number of self-employed workers in certain “high-risk” sectors such as agriculture, fishing, construction, and transport.

For this reason the Council recommends that Member States promote prevention policies as well as health and safety at work measures, notably via awareness-raising campaigns, as well as access to training and health surveillance.
More specifically, Member States are recommended:

  • to promote, in the context of their policies on preventing occupational accidents and diseases, the safety and health of self-employed workers, while taking account of the special risks existing in specific sectors and the specific nature of the relationship between contracting undertakings and self-employed workers;
  • when promoting health and safety for self-employed workers, to choose the measures they consider most appropriate, such as one or more of the following: legislation, incentives, information campaigns and encouragement of relevant stakeholders;
  • to implement awareness-raising campaigns, so that self-employed workers can obtain from the competent services and/or bodies, as well as from their own representative organisations, useful information and advice on the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases;
  • to take the measures necessary so that self-employed workers can have access to sufficient training to acquire appropriate safety and health skills;
  • to facilitate easy access to this information and training without involving excessive expense for self-employed workers;
  • to allow self-employed workers who so wish to have access to health surveillance appropriate to the risks to which they are exposed;
  • to take account of available information on experience in other Member States;
  • to examine, between now and 2007, the effectiveness of existing national measures or measures taken subsequent to the adoption of this recommendation and to duly inform the Commission.

This recommendation does not affect existing or future national provisions providing for a higher degree of protection and Member States should choose the means they consider to be most appropriate to meet its objectives.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Recommendation 2003/134/EC 18.02.03 OJ L 53 of 28.02.2003

 

Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Communication on the practical implementation of directives on health and safety at work

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the practical implementation of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Directives 89/391 (Framework), 89/654 (Workplaces), 89/655 (Work Equipment), 89/656 (Personal Protective Equipment), 90/269 (Manual Handling of Loads) and 90/270 (Display Screen Equipment) [COM(2004) 62 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

LEGAL IMPACT IN THE MEMBER STATES

Directive 89/391/EEC changed the practical perspective of the protection of the health and safety of workers by introducing an integrated preventive approach and by making ongoing improvement of health and safety conditions at work a requirement. This new approach is based on the fundamental principles which the framework Directive 89/391/EEC introduced, namely, employer responsibility, prevention, information, training, consultation and participation of workers. Directive 89/391/EEC and Directives 89/654/EEC, 89/655/EEC, 89/656/EEC, 90/269/EEC and 90/270/EEC led to the rationalisation and simplification of the National legislative corpora. Transposal of the directives obliged the Member States to switch from legislation often based on remedial principles to a preventive approach based on individual behaviour and organisational structures.

MONITORING TRANSPOSAL

Analysis of the transposal of the framework directive has made it possible to highlight shortcomings in nearly all the Member States, particularly as regards scope, employer responsibility, the principles of prevention, the extent of the obligation to evaluate risks to the health and safety of workers, protection and prevention services, the obligation to keep records of risk assessment in all types of companies and, lastly, information, consultation, participation and training of workers.
As far as individual directives are concerned, the situation as regards transposal is more positive and most of the shortcomings observed have been rectified without the need for infringement proceedings, which have, however, been necessary in certain cases.

ACTION ON THE GROUND: PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION

Substantial heterogeneousness continues to exist in the practical implementation of the various directives, depending on the countries, the different sectors of activity and the size of company. Nevertheless, the primary aims of guaranteeing common minimum standards of protection through harmonisation of the recommendations on safety and health, reducing the number of accidents at work and the number of cases of occupational diseases, have been attained.

Publicity and supporting measures

Although National (action plans and awareness-raising campaigns) and European (role of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work) measures have contributed greatly to better understanding of the new legislation and better awareness by employers and workers alike of their rights and obligations, the impact of these measures varies depending on the economic players to whom they apply. While things run smoothly from this point of view in the bigger companies, this is not the case in the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where a big effort is needed.

Awareness raising

Despite the huge volume of information available, the level of information among employers and workers, particularly in the SMEs, is insufficient. Employers point to problems in understanding the legislation. This stems from the nature of the provisions, which involve establishing a general objective, and from the fact that there is no information at National level to help employers establish prevention plans tailored to the risks detected in the risk assessment.

Risk assessment, documentation and supervision

The points to be improved concerning the practical implementation of the provisions related to the risk assessment are:

  • superficial, schematic procedures place tend to focus on obvious risks, while long-term effects (e.g. psychological and psycho-social factors) as well as the more insidious risks, e.g. those caused by chemical substances, are neglected;
  • as a result, there is no overall or integrated approach to risks and measures are taken in isolation;
  • risk assessment is often considered as a one-off obligation and lacks continuity;
  • the effectiveness of steps taken is not sufficiently monitored by employers.

Protective and preventive services

Not all companies comply with their obligation to set up departments to protect against and prevent occupational risks, either by designating a worker to carry out such activities or, if this is not possible, by calling in an external service. This is particularly the case of the SMEs.
The introduction of such services is held up by the lack of qualified personnel, the low quality of the services delivered (unilateral importance attached to the technical aspects, few multi-disciplinary services) and by the tendency for employers to use the cheapest possible services.

Information, consultation, participation and training

Few data are available on information flow but it is clear that the practical implementation of the obligation to inform workers leaves a lot to be desired by comparison with the other obligations which employers have to comply with. This is the case of nearly all the industrial sectors in all the Member Stakes irrespective of size of company. The problem is particularly manifest among temporary workers. Nor is the participation of workers organised satisfactorily despite the range of options proposed by the directives.

Organisation and management of health and safety at work

The growing complexity of work processes, trends in working conditions and changes in the types of risks encountered as a result, call for a transparent and systematic approach to health and safety at work. Yet, with the exception of the bigger companies, safety and health are seldom an integral part of companies’ overall management process.

Enforcement

Enforcement of health and safety at work legislation is primarily a matter for the labour inspectorates, often working in conjunction with other specialised monitoring agencies in certain sectors of activity. The progress made with implementation by the Member States is generally measured taking the ratio between the number of labour inspectors in each Member State and the number of inspections performed every year. 1 400 000 inspections are carried out every year in the European Union by approximately 12 000 inspectors.

The entry into force of the new EU health and safety legislation and does not appear to have boosted the number of inspections. In their reports, the Member States point to a chronic lack of resources in their labour inspectorates to cover all aspects of the new legislation, particularly in the SMEs.

The analysis carried out shows that the action of the EU labour inspectorates actively contributes to bringing down the rate of absenteeism due to occupational accidents and diseases and also to changing the approaches of those involved in prevention at workplace level. Further progress is needed in order to improve checks in the SMEs and the high-risk sectors and in order to make warnings and sanctions more dissuasive.

Analysis of two specific cases: SMEs and the public sector

SMEs

The analysis shows that there are major shortcomings in complying with essential elements of EU health and safety legislation in SMEs, in particular as regards risk assessment, workers’ participation and training, and in the traditionally high-risk sectors of agriculture and construction. These shortcomings stem primarily from:

  • the lack of information and specific (targeted information distributed locally) and comprehensible guidelines;
  • poor capacity and skills in terms of health and safety;
  • lack of resources to ensure appropriate basic training of workforce and managers;
  • poor access to effective, specific and specialised technical assistance.

The public sector

The inclusion of the public sector within the scope of the health and safety legislation is a groundbreaking development in most Member States.

Despite problems in certain countries (particularly in the military sector), the transposal of European legislation in the public sector can all in all be considered to be satisfactory. The degree to which it is implemented nonetheless poses certain problems because:

  • it is widely held in public administration that the risk levels are negligible by comparison with the private sector;
  • it is not generally for labour inspectorates to intervene in public administration or the in-house departments responsible for this function do not have enough hierarchical autonomy;
  • the budgets allocated are often limited.

EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE LEGISLATION

The National reports show that the majority of Member States consider that it is as yet too early to make a proper and full evaluation of effectiveness. Although nearly all Member States believe there has been a positive impact, they do not have the data or statistical results available yet to substantiate that impact. Nevertheless, the evaluation that the legislation has contributed to making the workplace safer is supported by general statistical data on occupational health and safety.

Effects on accidents at work and occupational diseases

The most up-to-date statistics (for the year 2000) show that the accident rate per 100 000 workers had fallen from 4513 to 4016 since 1994. Also by comparison with 1994, there was a marked improvement in the rate of fatal accidents in Europe, which fell back from 6423 to 5237 in 2000.

The 1999 labour force survey and those conducted by the European Foundation for Living and Working Conditions, for their part, show that the active population feels that working conditions have not improved overall. A great deal remains to be done with regard to monitoring and organising work in order to head off intensive working patterns, problems stemming from working on screen, repetitive movements and psychological damage.

Costs and benefits in the enterprises

Member States have indicated in their National reports that due to the lack of indicators they consider that it is not possible to make a full evaluation, but acknowledge that a reduction in accidents at work and worker absenteeism brings about a clear reduction in business costs, which should in turn boost productivity.

General economic effects

In the European Union the costs for accidents at work and work-related illnesses are estimated between 2.6 and 3.8% of the gross National product (GNP). 158 million days of work were lost in the Union in 2000. Around 350 000 workers were obliged to change their job as a result of an accident. Nearly 350 000 workers have various degrees of permanent disability and 15 000 have been forced out of the labour market. However, the fall in the number of accidents at work since the entry into force of Community legislation is estimated to have generated savings of 25 million days of work.
So, while the implementation of this legislation may not be totally satisfactory, it has definitely produced economic benefits.

Effects on employment and competitiveness

The beneficial effects of investment in health and safety at work take some time to filter through. This makes it very difficult for the time being to draw conclusions on the impact of the legislation in question on the competitiveness of the business sector. Cost/benefit analyses will have to be carried out in order to evaluate the short and longer term effects. As an overall conclusion, Member States in their National reports generally indicate that health and safety at work measures contribute towards improved working conditions, boosting productivity, employment and competitiveness.

OVERALL EVALUATION OF IMPLEMENTATION

Positive effects, problems with implementation and suggestions for improving the various Directives

  • Framework Directive 89/391/EEC

-This downward trend in the number of accidents at work and the aforementioned increase in employers’ awareness are considered by the Member States to be the great achievement of Directive 89/391/EEC. The following positive points were also mentioned:

  • emphasis on a prevention philosophy;
  • broadness of scope;
  • obligation for the employers to perform risk assessments and provide documentation;
  • obligation for the employer to inform and train workers;
  • rights and obligations of the workers;
  • the opportunity to consolidate, rationalise and simplify the National regulations in force.

The main problems pointed to by the Member States arose in the SME context and concerned the administrative obligations and formalities, the financial burden and at the time needed to prepare appropriate measures. Other difficulties were:

  • the lack of participation by the workers in the operational processes;
  • the absence of evaluation criteria for National labour inspectorates;
  • the lack of harmonised European statistical information system on occupational accidents and diseases;
  • problems in implementing certain provisions in the SMEs.

– If the degree of implementation of the directive is to be improved then there is a need to:

  • increase the level of application of the Directives in SMEs;
  • ensure the availability of comprehensive and harmonised statistics on occupational accidents;
  • provide easy access to information and assistance for employers and workers to make them aware of their rights and obligations;
  • step up action and allocate the resources necessary to guarantee uniform, effective and equivalent implementation;
  • identify any provisions of the Directives that have been outdated by technological development and need to be reviewed;
  • focus greater attention on the specific situation of temporary workers.
  • Directive 89/654/EEC on workplaces

– The positive aspects:

  • regulation of various situations which would not have received the required attention had they not been dealt with by the European Directive, e.g. windows, translucent partitions, doors or gates opening upwards, emergency routes and exits, etc.;
  • reinforcing regulations on the employers’ obligations relating to workplaces used for the first time, and workplaces already in use.

Implementation difficulties:

  • excessive detail concerning certain aspects, this being detrimental to the proper transposal of the directive ;
  • unclear distinction made by the Directive between workplaces used for the first time and those already in use ;
  • the investment required to adopt the new provisions in SMEs.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • the need for a co-ordinated approach to the problems regarding environmental conditions, e.g. by exchange of relevant experience among Member States;
  • the establishment of guidelines and recommendations (with up-to-date data, charts and figures) in order to clarify certain aspects (ventilation, lighting, temperature, dimensions of the workplace, etc.);
  • examining the provisions which are applicable to teleworking.
  • Directive 89/655/EEC on the use of work equipment by workers at work

-The positive points:

  • minimum safety level for work equipment defined;
  • National regulations unified and harmonised, which has contributed towards simplification;
  • scope extended to a greater number of items of work equipment;
  • standards generally clearer and more specific;
  • employer awareness raised with regard to the safety level of work equipment;
  • adaptation, official approval and modernisation of work equipment in use;
  • more active prevention of risks associated with the use of work equipment;
  • better analysis of factors to be taken into account when acquiring new equipment.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • excessive cost for SMEs which do not have the necessary financial resources;
  • the need for long-term investment to adapt work equipment;
  • the practical distinction between the Directive on safety in the use of work equipment and the machinery Directive has not been made sufficiently clear;
  • the definition of various safety levels for a machine already in use and for a new machine makes it difficult to adapt it to the requirements of the Directive.

-Suggestions for improvement:

  • clarification of the various safety levels for a machine in use and for a new machine;
  • support measures to smooth over the implementation of the directive, particularly for the SMEs: financial aid, loans, etc;
  • publication of guidelines on the practical part of the provisions.
  • Directive 89/656/EEC on the use by workers of personal protective equipment

– The positive points:

  • National legislation has been standardised, simplified and co-ordinated;
  • extension of the regulations to new sectors and new equipment ;
  • obligation on the employer to assess risks before selecting individual protection equipment and a widespread increase in awareness as regards the conditions to be met by this equipment;
  • greater detail in the regulations, which entail, for instance, knowing the exact type of activities in which certain individual protection equipment is mandatory.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • lack of assistance for SMEs, which have difficulty in selecting suitable protection equipment by themselves;
  • cost of new equipment for small companies;
  • workers insufficiently familiar with the use of personal protective equipment.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • the Commission should publish specific guidelines and codes of good practice, which would include selection criteria for personal protective equipment;
  • supplement the annexes to the directive in order to make it easier for companies to choose equipment;
  • synchronisation and simplification of implementation reports.
  • Directive 90/269/EEC on the manual handling of loads

– The positive points:

  • support for existing regulations on manual handling of loads in some Member States;
  • regulations which are clear and have been generally applied without problems;
  • improvements in the level of awareness of employers (taking on board the ergonomics aspects in risk assesment);
  • these obligations have been put into practice in nearly all sectors of industry.

– Implementation difficulties:

  • job losses could result from a high level of mechanisation and costs;
  • some aspects of the Directive are considered too detailed (although this is considered a positive aspect in some Member States);
  • the possibility that a series of workplaces may cease to be considered as suitable for women;
  • the absence of standards other than those of load weight and distance, regarding rest periods and rest intervals.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • several Member States are of the opinion that limit values should be set, since the margin for interpretation allowed as regards manual handling of loads is excessive;
  • the Commission should give details concerning evaluation models and guidelines;
  • the application of ergonomics principles to the handling of materials should be given closer attention.

Directive 90/270/EEC on work with visual display equipment

– The positive points:

  • further support for control and improvement of the ergonomics aspects of workstations using visual display equipment;
  • introduction of rest periods and the workers’ right to better health surveillance, in particular eye tests;
  • these obligations have been put into practice in nearly all sectors of the industry.

– Implementation difficulties

  • a number of problems are difficult to solve (use of natural light, the ergonomics aspects of seating, the inability to neutralise certain electromagnetic fields);
  • confusion as to who is authorised to or should carry out eye tests;
  • problems stemming from teleworking and supervision of working conditions within that framework.

– Suggestions for improvement:

  • it would be advisable to specify the provisions on changes of activity or rest periods, as well as the persons to whom they should apply;
  • the problems caused by electromagnetic radiation from terminals, lasers and magnetic fields should be examined;
  • various Member States consider a review of the Directive to be appropriate, in order to adapt it to technological development.

BACKGROUND

The analysis concerns the transposition and application of the framework directive 89/391 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work as well as of the first five individual directives, addressing particular workplace environments or risks. The individual directives concern in particular:

  • minimum requirements for the workplace (Directive 89/654/EEC)
  • the use of work equipment (Directive 89/655/EEC)
  • personal protective equipment (Directive 89/656/EEC)
  • manual handling of loads (Directive 90/269/EEC)
  • display screen equipment (Directive 90/270/EEC)

This report is the Commission’s response to the call made in the framework directive and in the five individual directives to “submit a report on the implementation of the various directives at regular intervals to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee”

A major input to this Communication are the National reports provided by the Member States in accordance with the directives which state that “Member States shall report to the Commission every five years (every four years for Directives 90/269 and 90/270) on the practical implementation of the provisions of this Directive, indicating the points of view of employers and workers”. It is also based on a report by independent experts.

Key figures of the act (for the year 2000)

  • Number of accidents (having resulted in absence from work of over three days): for 100.000 workers, 4016 cases (4539 in 1994);
  • Fatal accident rate: 5237 cases (643 in 1994);
  • Cost of accidents at work and of occupational diseases: between 2.6 and 3.8% of GDP
  • Days of work lost as a result of accidents at work: 158 million;
  • 7% of accident victims are forced to change jobs;
  • 4% of accident victims have to reduce their working hours or suffer varying degrees of permanent disability;
  • 15.000 workers were forced out of the employment market for good following an accident at work;
  • 14% of workers have more than one accident per year.

European schedule of occupational diseases

European schedule of occupational diseases

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European schedule of occupational diseases

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

European schedule of occupational diseases

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2003/670/EC of 19 September 2003 concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases.

Summary

The Commission recommends, without prejudice to more favourable national laws or regulations, that the Member States:

  • introduce into their national legislation the European schedule in Annex I. This list covers the diseases which have been scientifically recognised as being occupational in origin, which are liable for compensation and which must be the subject of preventive measures;
  • work to introduce into their national legislation a law on compensation for occupational diseases whose origin and occupational nature can be proved, particularly if the disease is listed in Annex II;
  • progressively make their statistics concerning occupational diseases compatible with the schedule in Annex I;
  • develop preventive measures, by involving all interested parties and, where appropriate, by exchanging information, experience and good practice through the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work;
  • establish national quantified objectives with a view to reducing the rate of recognised occupational diseases, particularly those mentioned in Annex I;
  • take special account of medical information notices on diseases in the European schedule and supply other Member States, on request, with all the relevant information on diseases or agents recognised in their national legislation;
  • encourage national health systems to contribute actively towards disease prevention, in particular by raising the awareness of medical personnel in order to improve knowledge and diagnosis of these diseases;
  • introduce a system for the collection and exchange of data on the epidemiology of diseases, especially those listed in Annex II, and promote research.

The Member States themselves determine the criteria for recognising each occupational disease.

Context

This recommendation replaces Commission Recommendation 90/326/EEC of 22 May 1990 concerning the adoption of a European schedule of occupational diseases.
This new recommendation is required in order to take account of data deriving from scientific and technical progress in this field, to have an up-to-date instrument in the run-up to the European Union’s impending enlargement, and to do justice to the special interest the ” new Community strategy on safety and health at work 2002-2006 ” places on enhanced prevention of occupational diseases.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Recommendation 2003/670/CE

OJ L 238 of 25.09.2003

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 20 September 1996 concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases [COM(96) 454 final].

In the light of information provided by the Member States, the Commission has reviewed progress in implementing the 1990 recommendation: the Member States have made great efforts to conform to Annex I to the recommendation. The Commission takes the view that at present it would be premature to propose binding legislation to replace the recommendation. However, it does intend to consider this option when the European schedule of occupational diseases is updated. This is due to take place in the first half of 2001 and is designed to take account of technical and scientific progress and the results of the work and projects currently under way to improve, inter alia, the collection, comparability and epidemiological analysis of statistics on occupational diseases.

Commission Recommendation 90/326/EEC of 22 May 1990 concerning the adoption of a European schedule of occupational diseases.

Protection of young people at work

Protection of young people at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of young people at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Protection of young people at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 94/33/EC of 22 June 1994 on the protection of young people at work.

Summary

The Directive applies to all young people under the age of 18 who have an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or subject to the law in force in a Member State.

The Member States may stipulate that the Directive shall not be applicable to occasional work or work carried out for a limited period in domestic service in a private household or to work in a family business which is not considered likely to harm, injure or endanger young people.

The Directive provides that the Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit the employment of children and shall ensure that the employment of adolescents is strictly controlled and protected under the conditions provided for in the Directive.

The Directive defines categories of young people as follows:

  • young people: young people under the age of 18;
  • children: young people under the age of 15 or who are still in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation;
  • adolescents: young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who are no longer in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation.

The Directive’s main objective is to prohibit the employment of children.

However, the Directive allows the Member States to stipulate, subject to certain conditions, that the ban on the employment of children is not applicable to:

  • children employed for the purposes of cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities, subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in each specific case;
  • children aged 14 years or over who work in an undertaking as part of a work/training scheme or traineeship, provided that this work is carried out in accordance with the requirements laid down by the competent authority;
  • children aged 14 years or over performing light work other than that referred to in the first point above ; however, children over 13 may perform light work for a limited number of hours per week in categories of employment defined in national legislation.

The Directive includes provisions relating to:

  • the employer’s general obligations, such as protection of the health and safety of young people, assessment of the risks to young people associated with their work, assessment and monitoring of the health of young people, information about young people and children’s legal representatives on the possible risks to their health and safety;
  • types of employment which must not be carried out by young people, such as work which exceeds the mental or physical capacities of young people, work involving harmful exposure to dangerous substances.

In addition, the Directive contains provisions relating to working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.

Each Member State is responsible for defining the measures to be taken in the event of infringement of the provisions of this Directive. These measures must be effective and proportionate to the offence.

The Directive contains a non-regression clause concerning the level of protection for young people.

The Directive provides for transition periods of varying lengths for Member States for which the application of this Directive poses significant problems. This is the case for the United Kingdom, which has a transition period of four years to apply some of the most important provisions of the Directive, i.e. until 22 June 2000.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Directive 94/33/EC

22.06.1996

Official Journal L 216 of 20.08.1994

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the application of Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2004) 105 final].

The report concludes that in most Member States the legislation already made provision for the protection of young workers and the prohibition of child labour before the Directive was adopted. There were therefore no significant problems in transposing the Directive.

Report from the Commission on the effects of the transitional period granted to the United Kingdom concerning certain provisions of Council Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2000)457 final].