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Preventing injuries to healthcare workers: EU social partners' agreement

17/07/2009 Preventing injuries to healthcare workers: EU social partners' agreement

Employers and trade unions in the healthcare sector have signed an EU-wide agreement on 17 July 2009, to prevent injuries from needle sticks and other sharp objects.

More than 1 million such injuries occur every year, forming one of the most common health and safety threats in the European workplace. The agreement was concluded after five months of negotiations by the European social partner organisations in the sector, which employs around 3.5 million people.

The new framework agreement was signed today by the European Public Services Union (EPSU) and the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers' Association (HOSPEEM), who established a social dialogue committee in the hospital and healthcare sector in 2006.

The agreement aims to:

  • achieve the safest possible working environment for employees in the sector and protect workers at risk;
  • prevent injuries to workers caused by all types of sharp medical objects (including needle sticks);
  • set up an integrated approach to assessing and preventing risks as well as to training and informing workers.

At the request of the European social partners and after having examined their representativeness and the legal conformity of the text, the Commission intends to submit, after the summer, a proposal to the Council for implementation of the agreement by a directive, in accordance with article 139 of the Treaty.

The agreement specifically addresses one of the priority objectives of the EU's current strategy for health and safety at work (2007-2012).