To better protect the more than 217 million workers in the EU from work-related accidents and diseases, the European Commission has adopted a Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020, which identifies key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work, presents key actions and identifies instruments to address these.
This Framework aims at ensuring that the EU continues to play a leading role in the promotion of high standards for working conditions both within Europe and internationally, in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Three major challenges
The Strategic Framework identifies three major health and safety at work challenges:
- to improve implementation of existing health and safety rules, in particular by enhancing the capacity of micro and small enterprises to put in place effective and efficient risk prevention strategies
- to improve the prevention of work-related diseases by tackling new and emerging risks without neglecting existing risks
- to take account of the ageing of the EU's workforce.
Seven strategic objectives
The Strategic Framework proposes to address these challenges with a range of actions under seven key strategic objectives:
- Further consolidating national health and safety strategies through, for example, policy coordination and mutual learning.
- Providing practical support to small and micro enterprises to help them to better comply with health and safety rules. Businesses would benefit from technical assistance and practical tools, such as the Online Interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA), a web platform providing sectoral risk assessment tools.
- Improving enforcement by Member States for example by evaluating the performance of national labour inspectorates.
- Simplifying existing legislation where appropriate to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens, while preserving a high level of protection for workers’ health and safety.
- Addressing the ageing of the European workforce and improving prevention of work-related diseases to tackle existing and new risks such as nanomaterials, green technology and biotechnologies.
- Improving statistical data collection to have better evidence and developing monitoring tools.
- Reinforcing coordination with international organisations (such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and partners to contribute to reducing work accidents and occupational diseases and to improving working conditions worldwide.
The Strategic Framework identifies instruments to implement these actions, highlighting for instance the EU funds, such as the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, that are available to support the implementation of health and safety rules.
The current Strategic Framework has been prepared on the basis of the findings of the evaluation of the previous EU OSH Strategy 2007-2012, the results of a public consultation and on the contributions of relevant stakeholders in this policy field, such as EU institutions, the social partners, the tripartite Advisory Committee on Health and Safety at Work and the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee.