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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

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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.

Community action in the field of mental health

Community action in the field of mental health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community action in the field of mental health

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

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Community action in the field of mental health

Mental health problems have a social, economic and structural impact on the welfare of the population as a whole. It is therefore necessary to provide information on mental health, promote its importance and pre-empt mental disorders through appropriate measures at Community level and in the Member States.

Document or Iniciative

Council conclusions of 3 June 2005 on a Community action in the field of mental health [Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

These conclusions are a follow-up to the Ministerial Conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on mental health, entitled “Facing the Challenges, Building Solutions”, held in Helsinki from 12 to 15 January 2005.

They are based on a series of measures linked directly or indirectly with mental health, including the following:

  • the Council resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health;
  • the Council conclusions of 15 November 2001 on combating stress- and depression-related problems;
  • the Council conclusions of 2 June 2003 on combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health;
  • the programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008), the aim of which is to help to ensure a high level of human health protection and remedy inequalities in the fields of health and mental health;
  • the Council conclusions of 5 June 2001 on a Community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm and those of 2 June 2004 on alcohol and young people.

Priority activities

The Ministerial Conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on mental health highlighted the need to implement, at Member State level, a plan of action in the area of mental health, focusing on improving the well-being and functioning of the people affected.

The Council underlines the need to accord greater importance to the social, economic and structural impact of mental health. To do this, synergies should be nurtured between the plan of action and the results of projects funded under the current and future Community programmes in the field of public health.

The general public’s awareness of the importance of mental health issues and of the need to frame specific policies in this area should also be raised.

The Commission should be presenting, in the summer of 2005, a Green Paper on mental health, which will put forward information, promotion and prevention measures in this area.

Actions at Member State level

The Council calls on the Member States to:

  • focus on implementing the declaration and the plan of action adopted by the European Ministerial Conference of the WHO on mental health, while planning to devise appropriate measures over the long term;
  • take measures to collect reliable data on mental health and on the economic and social consequences of mental disorders;
  • adopt measures to implement holistic, integrated and effective mental health systems covering promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, care and social reintegration;
  • continue the development of monitoring and evaluation tools that facilitate comparisons of the status of mental health between the Member States and of promotion and prevention practices;
  • make the best possible use of the relevant funding instruments, such as the Structural Funds and the PHARE programme, in order to meet specific needs in the area of mental health.

Actions at Commission level

The Commission is called upon to:

  • support the implementation of the declaration and the plan of action adopted by the European Ministerial Conference of the World Health Organisation on mental health;
  • ensure that the impact analysis of relevant future Community legislation takes mental health aspects on board;
  • emphasise the close links between mental health and physical health, as well as the links between mental disorders and drug and alcohol abuse;
  • pay special attention to people at vulnerable stages of life (children, young people and older people, in particular).

Related Acts

Commission Green Paper of 14 October 2005 “Improving the mental health of the population. Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union” [COM(2005) 484 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

With this Green Paper, the Commission is launching a wide debate on mental health. The idea is to hold a public consultation on how to improve the management of mental illness and promote mental well-being in the European Union. The Green Paper proposes three main action areas at EU level:

1. Creating a dialogue with Member States on mental health

2. Launching an EU platform on mental health

3. Building up mental health information resources at EU level.

Conclusions of the “Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs” Council of 2 and 3 June 2003 on combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health. In these conclusions, the Council stresses the impact of the stigma surrounding and the discrimination associated with mental illness. The Council therefore calls for concrete actions to be taken in order to improve social inclusion and combat stigma and discrimination.

Council conclusions of 15 November 2001 on combating stress- and depression-related problems [Official Journal C 6 of 09.01.2002]
In these conclusions, the Council calls for the implementation of actions to prevent stress and depression-related problems and to promote mental health.

Council Resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health [Official Journal C 86 of 24.03.2000]

Green Paper on Mental Health

Green Paper on Mental Health

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on Mental Health

Topics

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

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Green Paper on Mental Health

With this Green Paper, the Commission is launching a wide debate on mental health. The idea is to hold a public consultation on how to improve the management of mental illness and promote mental well-being in the European Union.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Green Paper of 14 October 2005 – “Improving the mental health of the population – Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union” [COM(2005) 484 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Current situation

Mental health is a growing challenge for the European Union (EU). It is estimated that mental health problems affect more than one in four adults in Europe and are the cause of the majority of the 58 000 annual deaths from suicide, an act which takes more lives than road traffic accidents.

The most common forms of mental ill health * are anxiety disorders and depression. According to some studies, by the year 2020 depression may be the highest ranking cause of disease in the developed world.

3.Stigmatisation is still a real problem for those suffering from mental illness. People with mental ill health or disability meet fear and prejudice from others, which increases personal suffering and social exclusion.

In economic terms, mental ill health costs the EU the equivalent of 3 to 4% of GDP because of lost productivity and additional burdens on the health, social, educational and justice systems.

There are significant inequalities between Member States in relation to mental health *. Suicide rates, for example, range from 3.6 per 100 000 population in Greece to 44 per 100 000 in Lithuania, the highest in the world. In addition, the number of involuntary placements in psychiatric institutions is 40 times higher in Finland than in Portugal.

The need for an EU strategy on mental health

Establishing a strategy on mental health at EU level would add value by:

  • creating a framework for exchange and cooperation between Member States;
  • helping to increase the coherence of actions in different policy sectors;
  • opening up a platform for involving stakeholders in building solutions.

The Commission proposes that an EU strategy could focus on the following aspects:

  • promoting the mental health of all;
  • addressing mental ill health through preventive action;
  • improving the quality of life of people with mental ill health or disability through social inclusion and the protection of their rights and dignity;
  • developing a mental health information, research and knowledge system for the EU.

Three areas of action envisaged

The Green Paper proposes three main areas of action at EU level:

  1. Creating a Dialogue with Member States on Mental Health.
    One objective is to identify priorities for an action plan on mental health. This dialogue should also consider the need for the two proposed Council Recommendations on the promotion of mental health and the reduction of depression and suicidal behaviour.
  2. Launching an EU Platform on Mental Health.
    The Platform would bring together a wide range of stakeholders in order to develop recommendations for action and examine ways of promoting the social inclusion of people with mental ill health and disability.
  3. Building up mental health information resources at EU level by developing an indicator system that would include information on mental health and its determinants and impact.

Next steps

All interested citizens, parties and organisations are invited to share their comments on this Green Paper.

In late 2006 the Commission will present its analysis of the responses received together with, if appropriate, its proposals for a strategy on mental health for the EU.

Background

The Green Paper is part of the Commission’s response to the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health held in Helsinki in January 2005. The Conference created strong political commitment for mental health and established a framework for comprehensive action. It invited the European Commission to contribute to implementing this framework for action. This Green Paper is an initial response to that invitation.

Key terms used in the act

The WHO describes mental health as: “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
Mental ill health includes mental health problems and strain, impaired functioning associated with stress, symptoms of dementia and diagnosable mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression.

Related Acts

Council conclusions of 3 June 2005 on a Community action in the field of mental health [Not published in the Official Journal].
In these conclusions, the Council calls on the Member States and the Commission to take measures to provide information on mental health, promote its importance and pre-empt mental disorders.

Conclusions of the “Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs” Council of 2 and 3 June 2003 on combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health.
In these conclusions, the Council stresses the impact of problems associated with stigma and discrimination in relation to mental illness. The Council thus calls for specific measures to improve social inclusion and to tackle discrimination and stigma.

Council conclusions of 15 November 2001 on combating stress and depression-related problems [Official Journal C 6 of 09.01.2002].
In these conclusions, the Council calls for the implementation of actions to prevent stress and depression-related problems and to promote mental health.

Council resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health [Official Journal C 86 of 24.03.2000].

Health determinants: lifestyle

Health determinants: lifestyle

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Health determinants: lifestyle

Topics

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

Public health > Health determinants: lifestyle

Health determinants: lifestyle

Tobacco

  • Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (Proposal)
  • Green Paper on promoting smoke-free areas in the European Union
  • Advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products (print media, radio, information society)
  • Manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products
  • Prevention of smoking
  • Ban on smoking in public places
  • Community Tobacco Fund: information programmes

Alcohol

  • European strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm
  • Community strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm (Council conclusions – 2001)
  • Drinking of alcohol by young people
  • Drinking and driving: Maximum authorised level of alcohol in the blood

Nutrition and physical activity

  • Healthy diet for a healthy life
  • Green Paper on promoting healthy diets and physical activity
  • A Strategy for Europe on nutrition, overweight and obesity related health issues
  • Obesity, nutrition and physical activity
  • Nutrition and health

Mental health

  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias: European initiative
  • Green Paper on Mental Health
  • Community action in the field of mental health
  • Combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health
  • Combating stress and depression-related problems