Browse by subject - Work-related health outcomes
23 May 2013: Impact of health problems on the labour market (Spain / Information update)
Results from a special module in the 2011 Spanish Economically Active Population Survey show the biggest health issue among people aged between 16 and 64 was ‘back or neck problems’. The findings revealed that 8% of people had some difficulty carrying out their basic everyday activities. Among those who said they were ill, had some limitations, or both, 74.1% said their weekly working hours were not affected, while 7.7% said they needed special help to be able to work.
07 May 2013: Prevalence of cancer in certain occupations (Norway / Information update)
A report has shed new light on the incidence of cancer in different occupational groups in Norway. The report Occupation and cancer shows that certain types of cancer, including lung cancer, are especially prevalent in construction and in some jobs in the manufacturing and service industries. Among women, a higher risk of lung cancer was found among painting and wallpapering workers. An increased risk of breast cancer was found in women doing jobs requiring higher educational qualifications.
25 April 2013: Employee awareness of workplace risk factors (Latvia / Information update)
New research in Latvia shows workers are failing to accurately assess the state of their own health. Examining the effect of the corporate environment on health, a survey found that 88% of workers said they felt well even though the majority had medical complaints. While managers work longer hours and report higher levels of stress, non-managers are more likely to have sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets, and so have a higher risk of heart and circulatory disease.
19 April 2013: New police rosters both healthier and less costly (Ireland / Information update)
A comprehensive working time agreement has been combined with new rosters for Ireland’s police force. The deal brings into effect the EU’s Working Time Directive. It was agreed in direct negotiations between the management of the force, known in Ireland as An Garda Síochána, and four representative bodies. A core feature of the agreement is that it is in tune with the very latest health and safety issues. The new system is seen as more family-friendly and more flexible for managers.
12 April 2013: Work-related injuries highlighted in study (Norway / Information update)
In 2007, 227 of the 22,210 work-related injuries reported in Norway involved the person losing part of their body. A recent study based on self-reported data by amputees at a prosthetics clinic found that 41% of upper-extremity amputations were work-related. Men working in small businesses and in the manufacturing sector were found to be especially vulnerable to upper-extremity amputations. Woodworking, metal fabrication and meat production were high risk workplaces.
08 April 2013: Job satisfaction low among doctors (Bulgaria / Information update)
Job satisfaction among doctors in Bulgaria was the subject of a survey conducted by healthcare information network Healthgrouper. The research showed doctors were generally unhappy with their wages, work-life balance and health service reforms. High levels of stress at work also had a negative impact on doctors’ job satisfaction. High levels of job satisfaction were identified with the overall work environment, including relationships with colleagues and autonomy at work.
28 February 2013: Increase in workplace accident risk among women (Sweden / Information update)
After a period of steady decline, the risk of suffering a serious occupational injury has started to increase in Sweden. The increase appears to be due to a higher number of injuries among women who work in the health care sector, many caused by falls. The increase in this type of injury may be partly attributable to two successive winters with severe snowfall. The figures, presented in the annual report of insurance firm AFA, show that the average risk for men has not increased.
15 February 2013: Work-related mental stress focus of research and policy debate (Germany / Information update)
Flexible working may be contributing to levels of stress according to a study among German employees. The research was carried out at a time when there was continuing policy debate on amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act to address work-related stress. An annual Absenteeism Report by health insurer AOK has provided new evidence which suggests the ‘flexibilisation’ of working times and locations is associated with higher levels of mental strain.
17 December 2012: Women workers and managers more prone to headaches (Norway / Information update)
In a study by Norway’s National Institute of Occupational Health, a range of occupational psychological, social, and mechanical factors were identified as predictors of headache severity. The study showed that seven out of 16 psychological, social and mechanical factors had a particular impact. Role conflict in an employee’s work life, lack of control over work, and job dissatisfaction were most commonly associated with the occurrence of a severe headache.
07 December 2012: Low awareness of risk factors in workplace (Latvia / Survey data report [ or view as size 506 kb])
This report synthesises some of the most relevant results of a research project on working conditions and work-related risks, comparing survey results obtained in 2006 and 2010 from employers, employees and workplace safety specialists. The results identify various risk factors in the working environment, levels of compliance with safety legislation, the effect of the shadow economy on workplace safety and to what extent employees are informed about workplace safety issues. The research suggests that social dialogue on workplace safety and matters pertaining to legal employment relationships significantly improve the working environment.
16 November 2012: Playing the game to tackle work-related stress (Netherlands / Information update)
The need for evidence-based solutions to the problem of work-related stress among employees in the Netherlands is increasing. Research institute TNO suggested that managers might learn about the issue by playing a specially designed game based around work-related stress. This led to the development of The Engagement game which, it is hoped, people in leadership roles will use to explore how to stimulate workers’ enthusiasm, and better manage work-related stress.
12 October 2012: New research on work-related cardiovascular diseases (Sweden / Information update)
A new report from the Swedish Work Environment Authority suggests the main risk factors for work-related cardiovascular disease are engine exhaust emissions, tobacco smoke, stress and shift work. The report examined the link to occupational exposure and to what extent the work environment is an underlying factor in cardiovascular disease and stroke, and how risks are increased by unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, a poor diet and physical inactivity.
12 October 2012: Night work increases the risk of breast cancer in nurses (Norway / Information update)
In a comprehensive study, the links between night work and breast cancer risk were investigated within a cohort of Norwegian nurses. Significantly, increased risks were seen in nurses who worked six or more consecutive nights for more than five years. This seemed to indicate that the risk of contracting breast cancer may be related to the number of consecutive night shifts. A relatively high proportion of people in Norway work night shifts, many of them in the healthcare sector.
10 October 2012: Rise in number of companies instigating prevention activities (Spain / Survey data report [ or view as size 114 kb])
According to the 2009 National Survey on Enterprises’ Health and Safety Management, 43% of companies with six or more workers had risk prevention representatives. Of the surveyed establishments, 20% did not carry out risk assessments whereas 61% had arranged health and safety training in the previous two years. Use of external prevention services had increased since 1999. Work accidents and musculoskeletal problems were the most frequently registered health risks.
16 August 2012: New businesses failing to reach safety standards (Slovakia / Information update)
During 2011, Slovakia’s Labour Inspectorate carried out checks on working conditions and occupational safety and health across a number of new organisations, and detected widespread deficiencies in the field. During the checks in the wholesale and retail sectors, construction industry and the hotel and catering sector, inspectors provided consultancy, insisted employers eliminate problems that were discovered and, in some cases, imposed financial penalties.
30 July 2012: Romania: EWCO CAR on Working conditions in the retail sector (Romania / National Contribution)
Commerce in general, and retail trade in particular, followed a spectacular upward trend in the time span between 2000 and 2009, both in terms of number of retail trading companies and aggregate turnover, and in terms of employment and number of employees. The crisis years that followed the upsurge, 2009–2011, slowed down investment in development and reduced the number of employees. A prominent feature of this process is the decrease of the number of small and medium 'corner' retail traders, most of them swallowed up by hyper- and supermarkets. Also growing, in the past decade, was the average salary of retail workers, although it is still below the national average. More than one third (38%) of the persons employed in the retail sector claim that they are exposed to at least one risk factor at the workplace. The actions undertaken by the new employers and the state authorities do not seem to explicitly address the issue of securing better working conditions for the employees.
13 June 2012: GEAR for Changes project promotes health and well-being (Slovenia / Information update)
The GEAR for Changes project focused on small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) where restructuring was being planned or underway. It aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of incorporating timely and constructive attention to issues affecting individual and organisational health and well-being into the restructuring process. It also served as a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge. The project included participants from Slovenia, Croatia and the UK.
08 May 2012: Spain- EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace (Spain / National Contribution)
The use of alcohol and drugs among Spanish working population is more common in sectors such as “catering trade” and “construction”, as well as among those workers with the worst labour conditions. With regard to Spanish legislation, there are limited references to alcohol and drug issues, although some Autonomous Communities have approved specific laws. Moreover, there are particular economic activities or professions where special limitations have been established (especially concerning dangerous activities). Finally, in Spain, social partners play an active role in the implementation of prevention programmes, where trade unions, employers’ organizations and public representatives frequently collaborate.
04 May 2012: Malta EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace (Malta / National Contribution)
Information sources dealing with the issue of alcohol and drugs at the workplace are scarce. With respect to drugs, the limited data available seems to indicate that workers in the construction, transport and food processing industries might be more at risk than workers in other sectors Existing legislation does not specifically refer to the prohibition or the testing for drugs and alcohol use at the workplace. The S.A.F.E. programme, a national prevention programme implemented by Sedqa, which targets the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace, is implemented across various industries. A number of initiatives have been developed specifically for the transport and construction sectors.
04 May 2012: Greece: Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace (Greece / National Contribution)
The quantitative and qualitative data found on the use of alcohol or drugs at the workplace are very limited. According to the shared assumption of the occupational doctors interviewed, "there is nothing indicating the existence of a problem". The legislative framework about occupational health and safety does not specifically address the intake or use of drugs or alcohol. For reasons of protection of personal data and privacy, tests designed to specifically detect use of drugs or alcohol are not permitted; as a result, the tests conducted can only indirectly lead to conclusions.
03 May 2012: Use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace (TRANS NATIONAL / Comparative analytical report [ or view as size 299 kb])
Alcohol and drugs represent a serious problem for a significant percentage of the working population (5%–20% of workers), especially in some sectors and occupations. Consumption of alcohol and drugs at work can have negative impacts for individuals and organisations in terms of health problems, more instances of sick leave/short-term absenteeism, reduced performance, labour conflicts, more work accidents, company image problems, and damage to equipment or products. Public authorities and social partners in EU countries have developed national legislation and agreements banning/limiting alcohol/drug use at work, with a focus on testing practices intended to control usage at work. Public authorities and social partners have also adopted various policy measures to prevent and combat the negative effects of alcohol and drug use at work.
05 April 2012: Young shift workers more at risk of developing multiple sclerosis (Sweden / Information update)
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm studied two different groups of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients to investigate the effect of shift work on the incidence of MS. They found a strong relationship between shift work before the age of 20 and the risk of developing MS. The researchers argue that the effect on the immune system from the disruption of the body’s daily rhythms and sleep disturbance due to shift work could be behind the increased risk in young workers.
05 April 2012: Part-time sick leave found to speed up return to work (Finland / Information update)
Part-time sick leave, available in Finland since 2007, can offer workers a compromise where contact with the workplace is retained but work load is reduced. A study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that allowing employees suffering from musculoskeletal disorders to take early part-time sick leave (that is, reduced working hours plus modified work tasks if necessary) reduced both the time before their return to full-time work and subsequent sick leave.
09 March 2012: Young temporary workers more exposed to health problems (Italy / Information update)
A survey of workers aged 15–34 years carried out by the Institute for Economic and Social Research (Ires) highlights the impact on their health of low job security. Those on a temporary contract were more likely to suffer from work-related health problems, the commonest of which were headache, backache and stress. Over a third of respondents did not report any problems, but almost half reported at least one physical problem, and just over a third at least one psychological problem.
27 February 2012: Prevalence of burnout among workers (Belgium / Information update)
Through a survey of burnout cases identified at general practitioner (GP) surgeries and health surveillance by occupational health physicians (OPs), the prevalence of burnout in the Belgian working population was estimated at about 0.8% (that is, about 19,000 people). Most people with symptoms of burnout consulted their GP first rather than an OP. Work pressure, organisational change and time pressure were the three most frequently reported factors leading to burnout.
27 February 2012: Occupational accidents fall by 25% over five years (Romania / Information update)
The latest activity report published by Romania’s Labour Inspection Office shows that the number of occupational accidents in 2010 fell by a quarter compared to 2006, and the number of fatal accidents dropped by 35.7%. Consequently the number of days’ work lost due to incapacity is also falling. Although the trend is downward across the economy, coal mining sector workers continue to be exposed to the highest level of risk, being 15 times more likely than other sectors to have an accident at work.
10 February 2012: Effects of physically demanding work on older workers (France / Information update)
The Health and Career (SIP) survey 2007 shows that 35% of older workers have been exposed to at least one type of physical difficulty at work for at least fifteen years. These people are less likely to be in good health and also less likely to be in employment than older workers who are not in jobs that expose them to physical risk. This suggests that persistent physical demands or difficulties at work may be damaging to health and could lead to an early exit from the job market for some workers.
03 February 2012: Immigration and accidents at work (Portugal / Information update)
An analysis of fatal and non-fatal accidents at work in recent years, broken down by nationality, suggests that immigrant workers are more vulnerable to workplace accidents than Portuguese workers. The study also suggests that foreigners most settled in Portuguese society, particularly those targeted by a recent integration initiative, are less likely to have workplace accidents, while groups such as Brazilians and Ukrainians, who generally do not stay long, are most at risk.
14 November 2011: Impact of the More Inclusive Working Life Agreement (Norway / Information update)
In Norway, the tripartite Agreement on a More Inclusive Working Life (IA Agreement) has been extended three times since it was signed in 2001. Two reports by the National Institute of Occupational Health show that, for 1994–2005, the duration of sick leave was on average shorter for employees in an IA company than for those in companies without an agreement. The level of disability benefits was also significantly lower for IA employees than for non-IA employees.
01 November 2011: Industrial injuries divided by gender (Denmark / Information update)
The latest statistics from the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries (Arbejdsskadestyrelsen) reveal that reported industrial injuries are divided by gender when it comes to work accidents and occupational diseases. Men and women are exposed to different types of industrial injuries and from within different occupational sectors. In addition, these differences have an effect on the recognition and compensation rate, where the figures also vary by gender.
02 September 2011: Sickness absenteeism at an all-time low (Netherlands / Information update)
Absenteeism in the Netherlands rose steadily in the 1960s and 70s, driven by legislation that made it attractive for employees to take long-term sick leave. Changes in laws on absenteeism and disability seem to have been a driving force behind the fall in rates since the early 1980s and employers have become more active in encouraging workers to return. The workplace itself seems to be a cause of sickness, so more measures are needed to make the working environment healthier.
20 July 2011: Job insecurity and effort-reward imbalance affect health and well-being (Denmark / Information update)
A Danish research project has examined whether work-related psycho-social factors affect an employee’s mental health and well-being. It reveals that factors such as job insecurity and effort-reward imbalance do have a negative effect on the health and wellbeing of employees, affecting how they perceive their health and how they sleep. The effects are more pronounced for those who have also had experience of unemployment and have fewer labour market opportunities.
20 July 2011: Improvements needed in the working environment (Estonia / Information update)
Safety in the workplace in Estonia still needs to be improved, four years after this was recommended by the National Audit Office of Estonia (NAO). A study by the NAO in 2007 showed the government had not acted consistently in ensuring safety at work. It said statistics for occupational accidents and illnesses were inaccurate, and suggested employers should bear more of the cost of these accidents and illnesses. It also suggested analysing other countries’ safety methods.
11 July 2011: Sick immigrant workers more likely to go to work (Spain / Information update)
Foreign workers in Spain are more likely than Spanish ones to turn up for work if they are unwell, a study has concluded. A study by the Institute for Work, Environment and Health (ISTAS) compared sickness presenteeism levels between Spanish-born and foreign-born workers. It found that presenteeism is higher among foreign-born workers, particularly among those who haven’t been in Spain long. This difference might be explained by immigrants’ precarious employment.
02 May 2011: Self-reported work-related health problems (France / Information update)
The responses to questions on ‘health, disability and work’ added to the French Continuous Employment Survey in 2007 suggest there is a link between workers’ exposure to risk factors and their self-reported chronic health problems. Workers with difficult working conditions reported more chronic health problems and a higher level of discomfort. Further research is required to confirm this finding as the study was based only on the declared perceptions of respondents.
18 April 2011: Survey reveals employees’ apathy to their rights at work (Latvia / Information update)
The Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia has published the results of its fourth population survey which investigated topics including inhabitants’ actions when their rights as employees are violated, occupational injuries from electrical equipment and compulsory medical check-ups. A comparison with the results of the 2009 survey suggests that the attitude of the inhabitants of Latvia towards their rights as employees is more indifferent than it was a year ago.
23 November 2010: GREECE: EWCO comparative analytical report on Work-related Stress (Greece / National Contribution)
There are no instruments in place to monitor work-related stress throughout the years. There is only one ad-hoc nationwide survey conducted by the National Statistical Service of Greece, in 2007. Nor is work-related stress directly included in the list of occupational illnesses recognised by Greek legislation. However, after the adoption of the European Framework Agreement on work-related stress in Article 7 of the EGSSE for the years 2008 and 2009, more interest on the subject is expected.
23 November 2010: Key elements of fair employment and decent work (EU Level / Information update)
One section of the report ‘Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health’ issued by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health and published by the World Health Organization focuses on the issues of fair employment and decent work. It examines a range of issues related to working conditions and presents a series of recommendations on how to improve factors relevant to achieving fair employment and decent work.
15 November 2010: Work accidents decline while incapacity claims for occupational diseases rise (Italy / Information update)
Fewer people worked in the Italian health and social care sector in 2008 than in 2004; the hospital workforce fell slightly but more people worked in non-hospital services (especially providing care to the elderly). Work accident rates declined in hospitals but increased in non-hospital services (though accurate data are hard to obtain). Incapacity claims by hospital workers for skin and respiratory diseases declined but those for musculoskeletal diseases increased.
22 October 2010: Italy: EWCO comparative analytical report on Information, consultation and participation of workers concerning health and safety (Italy / National Contribution)
Information and consultation in SMEs show different patterns amongst small and micro firms with less than 50 employees and medium ones: while in the former risk assessment is carried out according to a simplified pattern and territorial level plays a dominant role thanks to territorial OHS representatives and bilateral committees providing information, technical advice, training and carrying out inspections, in the latter patterns are more centred on company level displaying poor differences with respect to larger firms. Tripartite consultation both at national and regional level, introduced by 2007 law on H&S, and INAIL (national insurance against work accidents) increasing promotion of its H&S standards, agreed with social partners in 2001, are the most noticeable changes in last 5 years.
22 October 2010: Malta: EWCOcomparative analytical report on information, consultation and participation of workers concerning health and safety (Malta / National Contribution)
This report provides a snapshot on issues related to health and safety in Malta. The findings show that the management and the maintenance of occupational health and safety requirements especially in small and micro enterprises are still perceived to constitute a financial and administrative burden. Furthermore, awareness of OHS in the workplace is not yet fully appreciated by employees, employers and the social partners. References are mainly drawn from official publications of the Malta Occupational Health & Safety Authority (OHSA) and by interviews to a number of people with direct interest in the subject.
10 September 2010: Link between psychosocial factors, perceived stress and musculoskeletal injuries (Sweden / Information update)
The effects of major efforts in the field of ergonomics to reduce the risk of musculosketal disorders (MSDs) tend to fall short of what might be expected, possibly due to the lack of attention to improving the psychosocial working environment and a lack of interventions at an organisational level as well as at an individual level. Interventions to improve working conditions and reduce stress could have a major impact on recovery from MSDs and days lost to sickness.
24 August 2010: Negative impact of musculoskeletal disorders on Irish labour market (Ireland / Information update)
Recent research as part of the wider European ‘Fit for work’ study examined the negative impact of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on the working lives of Irish workers and the Irish labour market. MSDs are the most commonly reported cause of work-related ill health in Ireland and the annual direct cost of MSDs at work is estimated to be at least €750 million. More than twice as many working days are lost through MSDs in Ireland than are lost to stress.
10 August 2010: Working conditions in healthcare professions (Austria / Information update)
A recent survey of 1,000 workers from various healthcare professions in Lower Austria found that, in the rapidly expanding healthcare sector, high levels of satisfaction with the work itself is found alongside high work pressures and poor working conditions. The study differentiates between four major factors – work organisation, psychological stress, physical health risks and client contact. Its authors consider it to be highly representative of the sector.
23 July 2010: Portable computing and communication devices and their impact on workers’ health (EU Level / Information update)
A new European Commission report examines the increasing use of portable computing and communication devices, and its impact on the health of EU workers. It attempts to identify the new and changing risks to health and safety, covering issues such as working environment and how technology encourages work during free time. It also examines the main stressors and ergonomic risks, recommending new guidelines or standards rather than new legislation to protect workers.
01 July 2010: New outlook for occupational risk trends (Denmark / Information update)
A new report published by the Danish Working Environment Authority provides an outlook for occupational risk trends for the period 2010 to 2020. The report emphasises that occupational risks should not be considered as changing abruptly but rather as evolving gradually. According to the report, the main working environment issues to be addressed in the labour market as a whole are psychosocial and musculoskeletal risk exposure together with work-related accidents.
16 April 2010: Technical school students exposed to neck and shoulder pain (Norway / Information update)
A recent study sought to determine the prevalence of neck, shoulder and upper back pain among technical school students in their transition from school to working life. The study involved 173 participants and was conducted over a six-year period. A high prevalence of pain in the neck, shoulder and upper back was found among these students, with a significantly higher proportion of women than men reporting this problem, despite men’s higher levels of mechanical exposure.
16 April 2010: Occupational accidents in Norway in 2007 (Norway / Information update)
The national Labour Force Survey carried out in 2007 revealed the occurrence of an estimated 90,000 occupational accidents in Norway. The survey measured the consequences of such accidents in terms of absence from work and loss of function. Significant variations between occupational groups were found, with young men and employees working shift, rotation and prolonged working hours having the highest risk of workplace accidents.
09 April 2010: Survey explores trends in working environment and health (Sweden / Survey data report [ or view as size 123 kb])
The Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health aims to study relations between the work environment and health over time. It follows on from the 2003 and 2005 Swedish Work Environment Surveys, and intends to follow the same group of people with questions about working and living conditions and health. Research based on the survey has covered issues such as downsizing, leadership, control and flexibility, and their consequences for health.
31 March 2010: Sick leave and fear of losing one’s job (Sweden / Information update)
A survey conducted in 2009 by the Swedish Association of Occupational Health and the Swedish Extended Performance Satisfaction Index investigates employees’ attitudes towards future employment from a health perspective. The survey concludes that 7.8% of all employees are worried about losing their job within the next two years due to poor health. For employees on long-term sick leave, the proportion is 37.3%.
22 March 2010: Exposure to carcinogenic factors in the workplace (Norway / Information update)
It has previously been estimated that about 3% of all the reported cancer cases in Norway for men and 0.1% for women could be attributed to exposure to carcinogenic reagents at the workplace. Based on data from the Nordic Occupational Cancer Study, a recent report presents the cancer incidence data for various occupational groups and discusses the aspects of work which may increase the risk of developing cancer.
12 March 2010: Trends in work accidents 2005–2008 (Romania / Information update)
Annual reports from the Labour Inspection Office show that the total number of persons injured at work in Romania has decreased from 5,031 persons in 2005 to 4,592 persons in 2008, with the rate of 0.85 casualties per 1,000 employees declining to 0.8. Of all occupational accidents among the four major types of causes, accidents caused by the workers’ own fault top the list. The data also reveal a significant increase in accidents caused by the working environment and tasks assigned.
12 March 2010: Health and Safety Authority records lowest ever workplace fatalities (Ireland / Information update)
A new report from Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA), published in January 2010, shows that 43 people were killed in workplace accidents in Ireland in 2009. This is the lowest figure since records began in 1991, when 73 people were killed. Further comparisons show that while the Irish figures may not be as good as the European average, they are within close range and are undoubtedly a significant improvement on fatality rates in the early to mid 1990s.
12 March 2010: Working conditions in health and social work sector (Bulgaria / Information update)
A study conducted by the Institute for Social and Trade Union Research examines working conditions in establishments providing health and social services in Bulgaria. It also aims to assess the main activities of the working conditions committees. Among the most frequently cited occupational risk factors are stress, and shift and night work. Accidents in the health and social work sector have increased in recent years, despite declining in other sectors.
08 March 2010: Stricter sick leave rules results in insurance savings (Hungary / Information update)
Hungary’s National Health Insurance Fund (OEP) managed to achieve a positive budget balance in 2008, according to recent findings. The savings are thought to be linked to the first stage of a health reform in early 2007, introducing stricter rules for sick leave and the supervision and review of the incapacity for work status by OEP doctors. As a result, the number of sick days taken and sick leave expenditure have shown a decline in recent years.
08 March 2010: Impact of ‘Toyota model’ in healthcare sector (Sweden / Information update)
A recent study by Stockholm University assesses the correlation between shorter working hours and improvements in health, well-being and the level of physiological stress among workers in the healthcare sector. The study evaluates the effect of introducing a new working time model, the so-called ‘Toyota model’, and its effect on employee health and work satisfaction. It concludes that the new working time model has no significant effect on workers’ health or stress levels.
08 March 2010: Poor working conditions lead to risks for pregnant women (Ireland / Information update)
Poor working conditions may increase the chances of pregnant women having underweight or premature babies, according to recent findings by researchers from University College Dublin and the French public health organisation INSERM. In particular, pregnant women who work long hours, shifts, on temporary employment contracts or in positions with high physical work demands may be at increased risk of giving birth to small or premature babies.
08 March 2010: Citizens voice concerns over health and safety at work in EU poll (Slovenia / Information update)
In 2009, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work released the results of a European-wide survey on safety and health at work. According to the findings, Slovenian citizens are concerned that the economic crisis may adversely affect workplace health and safety. Although respondents feel they are well informed about health and safety at work, they believe that ill health is often caused by work and that health and safety has deteriorated in the past five years.
08 March 2010: How Europeans assess health and safety at work (EU Level / Information update)
Europe’s citizens are well informed about occupational health and safety, while also being concerned about the impact of the economic crisis and recession on their health and safety at work. These are the findings of a pan-European survey on safety and health at work, carried out by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. However, there is some fear that the improvements which Europeans have seen in this regard will be eroded by the economic crisis.
17 February 2010: Female workers more prone to psychological disorders (France / Information update)
In 2006, the French Institute for Health Surveillance set up the Samotrace programme to assess the relations between mental health and work. The first findings show a high level of psychological distress among workers, mainly among women and in certain economic sectors, such as financial services and public administration. The study’s results also reveal high correlations with psychosocial factors at work, such as imbalance in terms of ‘effort-reward’ and over-commitment.
05 February 2010: Negative health outcomes resulting from bullying in the workplace (Denmark / Information update)
A recent Danish study confirms that bullying leads to sleep problems and symptoms of severe stress among victims. Moreover, witnesses to bullying are found to react in the same manner, albeit to a lesser degree. On the positive side, systematic and frequent exposure to bullying is quite limited. However, negative behaviour in the workplace is very common, with 79.5% of the respondents being exposed at least sometimes to work-related negative acts.
20 January 2010: Survey highlights rural-urban divide in workplace health and safety (Romania / Survey data report [ or view as size 263 kb])
The National Institute of Statistics conducted an ad hoc module on health and safety at the workplace as part of the Household Labour Force Survey in the second quarter of 2007. Among the main topics covered were accidents at the workplace and factors that may impair physical and mental health at work. The survey highlights significant differences according to sector, employment status, age, gender and location, revealing a distinct rural–urban divide.
07 December 2009: Reported health differences between working and non-working people (Norway / Information update)
A significant number of people in Norway are defined as ‘non-working individuals’. Based on two comprehensive surveys – the Level of Living Survey 2006 and the Labour Force Survey 2006 – the group of non-working individuals was identified and their self-reported health was compared with that of workers. Although differences arise within the non-working group, the occurrence of all reported illnesses was higher for non-working individuals than for workers.
07 December 2009: Increase in workplace bullying over past ten years (Finland / Information update)
The proportion of people reporting workplace bullying has increased in Finland over the past 10 years. According to the Finnish Quality of Work Life Survey 2008, 44% of wage and salary earners reported at least occasional bullying at their workplace. When asked about their own experiences, only 4% of workers reported being personally subjected to workplace bullying at present, 13% had been bullied previously at their current workplace and 8% at a previous workplace.
02 December 2009: Decline in employee absence and impact of the recession (United Kingdom / Information update)
The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development published a survey on absenteeism in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2009. The report found that absence among employees had declined in 2009, while the costs associated with employee absence had slightly risen. It also revealed that a range of illnesses, including work-related stress, accounted for employee absence, and that the effects of the recession had toughened employers’ attitudes to absence management.
02 December 2009: Public administration employees report problems due to working on computers (Czech Republic / Information update)
A survey on work environment and working conditions in public administration showed that working with computers is one of the biggest sources of discomfort for public administration employees. For instance, 74% of them report having eye tiredness and 70% cite musculoskeletal disorders. Although information technologies are now a fundamental tool in this sector, one third of respondents declare that they do not lighten their workload.
02 December 2009: Impact of restructuring on health and safety of workers (EU Level / Information update)
Restructuring processes generally have a negative impact on workers, although a small number of positive effects are also observed. These are the findings of a report on the impact of restructuring on workers’ health and safety, as well as their quality of working life, with a particular focus on psychosocial risks. The findings are based on an analysis of 58 organisational and 33 occupational case studies, highlighting some cross-national trends in health and safety.
30 November 2009: Rise in psychosocial risk factors at the workplace (France / Survey data report [ or view as size 192 kb])
There has been huge changes in recent decades in the content, organisation and employment status of work. Results from the 2005 Working Conditions Survey in France indicate that besides the usual trends and changes across categories – such as economic sectors or occupational groups – working conditions have changed in an uneven way across the salaried population, with some subgroups experiencing higher demands. The second major development is the growing impact of psychosocial factors at the workplace. This is a new dimension, where the challenges are high and acquiring information on the subject necessitates developing new tools such as updated surveys and new monitoring systems.
20 November 2009: Working environment shown to play role in early retirement (Denmark / Information update)
A recent study confirms that the working environment plays a substantial role in the take-up of early retirement. The study, which examines the relations between working environment factors and early retirement, also uncovers considerable gender differences regarding the impact of working conditions on early retirement. However, neither the working environment nor other external factors fully explain why people opt for early retirement.
05 October 2009: Occupational health and safety trends in agriculture (Lithuania / Information update)
In 2008, the Lithuanian University of Agriculture conducted a survey analysing occupational health and safety in agricultural companies during 2003–2007. The survey sought to deliver recommendations on likely measures for improving occupational health and safety. While the number of fatal and serious accidents at work dropped in parallel with the decreasing number of farms and agricultural workers, the number of minor occupational accidents grew within this period.
25 September 2009: Impact of high-risk jobs on long-term work absence (Netherlands / Information update)
Long-term work absence is an issue of concern among employers and employees in the Netherlands. Disparities between occupations in terms of sick leave cannot be explained by differences in the characteristics of the workers, the job, the company or the working conditions. After adjusting for these factors, occupation remains an independent predictor of long-term work absence, with police officers, firefighters and security guards at highest risk.
25 September 2009: Significant decline in rate of accidents at work (Italy / Information update)
According to the 2008 annual report of the Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority, the long-term decline in reported work-related accidents, especially fatal accidents, continued in Italy in recent years. Such trends are consistent with self-reported occurrences from the Vocational Training Development Agency quality of work surveys and the 2007 ad hoc module on health and safety at work. However, undeclared work masks the full extent of occupational accidents.
25 September 2009: Migrants subject to poor working and employment conditions (Spain / Information update)
According to a study by the Centre for the Research of Health at Work, work-related accidents in Spain are more common among migrant workers compared with Spanish workers. In addition, a large proportion of migrant workers reveal that they are exposed to precarious working and employment conditions that impact negatively on their health. Thus, work precariousness may also lead to social precariousness, adding to the disadvantaged position of migrants in Spanish society.
25 September 2009: Work-related accidents and risks among migrant workers (Norway / Information update)
Based on data from the immigrant living conditions survey in Norway for 2005–2006, occupational factors important for health and well-being have been examined among immigrants from Asia, Africa, South America and southeast Europe. In general, the incidence of injuries at work as well as exposure to physical, chemical, mechanical and psychosocial strain appear to be higher among immigrant workers in Norway compared with the entire workforce.
21 September 2009: Gender perspective on working conditions in Slovakia (Slovakia / Survey data report [ or view as size 107 kb])
A Slovakian survey on ‘Gender, work and health’ has examined employee opinions and attitudes in relation to working conditions – especially occupational health and safety – from a gender perspective. Gender segregation is still apparent in the workplace. Men are more likely to be offered physically arduous work, whereas such work is considered unsuitable for women. However, women employed in industry often perform monotonous, repetitive tasks, which are also a health risk.
14 September 2009: Impact of workplace changes on health and well-being (Norway / Information update)
A comprehensive survey among 10,000 workers in Norway has examined the extent of company reorganisation and downsizing in the country, as well as their impact on job insecurity, job satisfaction and work-related health problems. The results confirm that reorganisation and downsizing have a variety of negative consequences. The study also confirms that a lack of information and consultation are associated with poor quality of work indicators.
31 August 2009: Disparities in quality of work linked to education and socioeconomic status (Denmark / Information update)
A recent study published by the Economic Council of the Labour Movement examines the link between educational levels and socioeconomic status on the one hand, and the quality of the working environment on the other hand. The study finds that overall risk exposure is inversely proportional to workers’ length of education and socioeconomic status. Moreover, the quality of the working environment appears to be closely related to the incidence and duration of absence from work.
24 August 2009: TUC guidance on avoiding skin cancer for outdoor workers (United Kingdom / Information update)
The UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) has issued guidelines for employers and union representatives on steps to minimise the risk of skin cancer for outdoor workers. The document notes the risks associated with outdoor working in the summertime and outlines a series of practical steps that can be taken to lessen the cancer risk. The guidance also raises interesting questions on the best way of regulating the risks of skin cancer to outside workers in the UK.
29 June 2009: Phenonemon of sick ‘presence’ at work examined (Sweden / Information update)
The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (SACO) has recently published a report on ‘sick presence’ – that is, the tendency to go to work despite feeling sick – among academics in Sweden. The study shows that sick presence appears to be common among Swedish academics. The report is based on a survey of members of trade unions affiliated to SACO. The results show that 37% of all respondents have at least twice during the past 12 months gone to work despite being sick.
05 June 2009: Impact of work-related health problems on work capacity (Romania / Information update)
In 2007, some 818,252 persons – 5.7% of people aged 15 years and over – reported suffering from at least one health problem over the previous 12 months caused or worsened by current or previous jobs. The extent to which the ailment impacted on the respondents’ subsequent work capacity varied according to individual circumstances. For the majority of respondents, the claimed health problems were not conducive to economic inactivity.
14 April 2009: Employee involvement in health and safety in financial sector (Italy / Information update)
According to several local-level surveys, intense restructuring in the Italian financial services sector since 1994 has led to widespread stress and other psychosocial outcomes, such as mobbing and burnout. The joint survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention and the Independent Federation of Italian Bank Workers reveals low employee involvement in managing, implementing and assessing health and safety policies, but higher access to training and information.
14 April 2009: Increase in exposure to occupational diseases (Romania / Information update)
The study ‘Occupational morbidity in Romania in 2007’, conducted by the Bucharest Institute of Public Health, reveals that the number of workers exposed to occupational diseases doubled from 915,000 to 1,831,000 workers in the period 1997–2007, while new cases of work-related diseases decreased from 2,060 to 1,353 workers. The data also reveal differences between the distribution of the number of occupational doctors and new cases of occupational diseases at county level.
23 March 2009: First national survey on workplace accidents and health problems (Greece / Information update)
In September 2008, the National Statistical Service of Greece published the findings of a survey on work-related accidents and health problems, conducted during the second quarter of 2007. Craft, foreign and low-educated workers reported the most accidents, while skilled agricultural and fishery workers reported more health problems. More men than women reported accidents and health issues. Greece has since adopted the New European Strategy for Health and Safety at Work.
27 January 2009: National health and safety strategy aims to reduce number of workplace accidents (Portugal / Information update)
The number of accidents at work, including fatal accidents, continues to decline in Portugal. However, although the number of working days lost due to accidents is also decreasing, the cumulative number of immediate days lost due to accidents increased. In order to reduce the occurrence of occupational accidents in a continuous and sustainable way, the government adopted the National Strategy for Safety and Health at Work for the period 2008–2012.
13 January 2009: Increase in number of workers incapacitated due to illness (Latvia / Information update)
The State Commission of Physicians for Health and Work Capacity Examination has published its annual report for 2007. The report presents detailed data on disabilities and their causes. Data is provided according to age, gender and regional aspects for the population as a whole, including working people and non-working people. The report finds that, in general, the incidence of disabilities has increased in 2007.
05 January 2009: Government launches programme for health and safety at work (Latvia / Information update)
The Latvian Ministry of Welfare has announced measures to improve occupational health and safety, which are to be implemented within three years. Adoption of these measures is the first step in the implementation of the Health and Safety Development Programme for 2008–2013; the overall programme is in a process of adaptation. The first step includes five main strands of activity and several support mechanisms that may help companies to improve health and safety.
05 January 2009: Customer demands found to be major driver of work pace and stress (Norway / Information update)
In the European Working Conditions Survey in 2005, Norwegian employees reported the highest score for pace of work determined by customer and client demands. This orientation towards customers has developed over several years, and relates to other significant trends such as fewer colleagues, more tasks, increased responsibility, lack of support and less visible management. Customer and client demands represent one of several ‘pace driving relational factors’.
22 December 2008: Lack of predictability main cause of stress in workplace (Norway / Information update)
The Norwegian researcher Lars Andersen has published new research on the organisational factors that lead to stress in companies. ‘Lack of predictability’ is identified as the single biggest stressor in Norwegian working life, caused by factors such as disturbances and unexpected changes in the workplace, along with improvised solutions and a breakdown in communication. This leads to stress and inefficiency in companies, resulting in a ‘loss-loss’ situation for both workers and management.
06 November 2008: Impact of working life patterns on life span (Austria / Information update)
In early 2008, the Austrian Institute for Economic Research published its findings on the impact of different employment and working life patterns on the life span of workers. The study looks at the effects of doing heavy work during night shifts on life expectancy and focuses particular attention on data relating to men born from 1924 to 1949. Moreover, it reveals interesting and sometimes unexpected outcomes regarding working conditions, income levels and unemployment.
13 October 2008: Situation regarding health problems in the workplace (Romania / Information update)
In 2007, the National Institute of Statistics conducted a survey on accidents at work and work-related health problems. Its findings reveal that 5.7% of persons aged 15 years and over who are working or have worked in Romania suffer from at least one health problem caused or aggravated by their work. Musculoskeletal disorders, mainly affecting the back, are most frequently reported, followed by breathing or lung complaints, as well as heart disease.
06 October 2008: Men more prone to fatal and serious work accidents (Slovenia / Information update)
The Slovenian labour inspectorate monitors safety and health in the workplace. Its findings over an eight-year period show that the causes of occupational accidents with serious and very serious consequences are mainly poor work organisation, inadequate control measures, careless work and unreliable work methods. Men represented all of the victims of fatal work-related accidents as well as most of those experiencing serious accidents in the workplace.
24 September 2008: Tackling occupational burnout at the workplace (Finland / Information update)
Finland is known for active interventions in occupational health. However, employees with burnout participate less often in improvement programmes of work practices, occupational training and measures to reduce mental stress than those with no burnout. Instead, they are more often targets of individual-focused interventions, like counselling, pharmacotherapy and non-vocational rehabilitation. About half of employees report that burnout cases occur at their workplace.
15 September 2008: Workers in transport prone to twice as many traffic-related accidents (Netherlands / Information update)
Work-related accidents occur more than twice as often among workers in transport occupations (7.7%) compared with the average (2.9%). Bus drivers as well as truck drivers are among the top 10 high risk occupations concerning dangerous work and occupational accidents. Recent findings from the National Survey on Working Conditions enable a closer investigation into traffic-related occupational accidents.
17 July 2008: Exposure to mental or physical health risks at work (Romania / Information update)
The National Institute of Statistics has published, for the first time in Romania, a survey on health and safety at the workplace, as an annex to the Household Labour Force Survey. The results show that 47.6% of the total employed population were exposed to at least one factor that might affect mental or physical health. The survey also revealed that exposure varies considerably according to sex, environment, company ownership and occupational status.
08 July 2008: Main types of accident in the workplace (Portugal / Information update)
Falls and crushing are the types of occupational accidents which, in Portugal, demand priority prevention, a study concludes. More specifically, any effort to prevent workers from slipping and stumbling at the workplace in the economic sectors of construction and food and beverages in particular could have a positive and significant impact on reducing occupational accidents. The research also notes a lack of data regarding the precise injuries sustained.
11 June 2008: Report identifies link between performance and health and safety strategy (United Kingdom / Information update)
A recent survey reveals that health and safety is afforded considerable attention by many companies in the United Kingdom, although smaller organisations are less likely to have positive attitudes towards related issues or strategies. This is a significant finding, given that workplace fatalities, injuries and ‘lost days’ due to illness or injury remain high despite the UK’s comparatively good health and safety record within the EU and recent legislative developments.
03 June 2008: Risk factors remain high in metalworking industry (Italy / Information update)
Findings from ‘The voice of 100,000 workers’ survey carried out by the Federation of White-collar and Blue-collar Metalworkers indicate high levels of perceived exposure to physical and psychosocial risks among Italian metalworkers. Exposure to noise, vibration and dangerous substances are the most common physical risk factors. Overall, 40% of those surveyed believe that their work has a negative impact on their health.
19 May 2008: Downward trend in work-related accidents in 2006 (Hungary / Information update)
The 2006 annual report presented by the minister of social affairs and labour on developments in health and safety at work in Hungary was published in June 2007. The report contains comparative statistical data on occupational accidents. It also examines employers’ experiences concerning the investigation of work-related accidents, the latest developments in research and training, relevant legislation, as well as the results of targeted research and on-the-spot inspections.
19 May 2008: Factors explaining rise in occupational accidents (Denmark / Information update)
The number of reported occupational accidents in Denmark increased for the third consecutive year in 2006. This development cannot be explained by administrative conditions or changes in the Danish employment situation but reflects an actual increase in occupational accidents. In particular, more accidents occurred among newly appointed workers, those aged 18 to 24 years and over 44 years, and women. Five economic sectors account for about half of the increase.
19 May 2008: Workers show more interest in environmental issues (Spain / Information update)
The Labour Ecobarometer 2007, conducted by the Institute for Labour, Environment and Health, highlights an important shift in the perception of workers in Spain regarding environmental issues. The results show that a large majority of workers favour a balance between production and employment, on the one hand, and environmental respect, on the other. This change in attitude reflects trends in societal awareness, as well as workplace developments.
07 April 2008: Caring professions at risk of job burnout (Austria / Information update)
A survey launched in 2006 looks at the risk of experiencing job burnout in different professions. The first results, now available, focus on the professions of nurses and carers. Almost one fifth of employees in the health and social work sector are at high risk of burnout. Moreover, three out of five nurses and carers report medium or high levels of emotional exhaustion. The study reveals that the risk of suffering from job burnout differs mostly according to working time.
03 April 2008: Ambulance workers have high accident and mortality rates but low anxiety and depression (Norway / Information update)
A systematic review on ambulance personnel found that ambulance workers have a higher mortality rate, higher level of fatal accidents and higher rate of early retirement on medical grounds than the general working population. However, a survey among ambulance personnel indicates that they report lower levels of anxiety and depression symptoms, and tend to avoid seeking professional help.
03 April 2008: Lack of fairness and reward for efforts can lead to burnout and poor job satisfaction (Netherlands / Information update)
A research on the influence of justice on work-related outcomes confirms that employees who experience ‘distributive injustice’ are more likely to develop burnout over time, whereas ‘procedural injustice’ leads to lower job satisfaction. The study was carried out over three years comprising more than 1,500 employees. In addition, the study found that female employees experienced higher levels of distributive justice than their male counterparts.
17 March 2008: Health and safety deficiencies in hotels and restaurants (Slovakia / Information update)
Inspections carried out in 2007 by the National Labour Inspectorate revealed shortcomings in occupational safety and health in Slovakian hotels and restaurants, mainly concerning technical equipment, the provision of personal protective tools, training and safety management systems. Deficiencies were also found regarding employment contracts, remuneration, and working time and rest periods. In general, however, the situation has improved in the past two to three years.
10 March 2008: High incidence of truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel (Belgium / Information update)
A total of one out of three Flemish truck drivers admits to occasionally or regularly dozing off while driving. This alarming finding has emerged from research by the public health department of Ghent University, and received considerable media attention in 2007. The research concluded that one quarter of the truckers surveyed had an increased tendency to fall asleep behind the wheel. Sleeping problems, unhealthy lifestyle and long working hours are the main causes.
10 March 2008: Positive work factors can improve health and productivity (Denmark / Information update)
Most research on the work environment has, to date, focused on negative work factors, such as those leading to problems with stress and health. A new report by the National Research Centre for the Working Environment focuses on positive work factors, which can improve employees’ health and productivity. Significant factors include having a high degree of influence in the job, and receiving appreciation and social support, all of which are found to contribute to healthy employees and increased productivity.
04 March 2008: Research highlights workplace impact of alcohol and drug abuse (United Kingdom / Information update)
A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development indicates that a significant minority of UK employers consider alcohol and drug misuse to be a key cause of absenteeism and lower productivity among workers. However, even among organisations with policies on these issues, a significant proportion place little emphasis on communicating these policies effectively or on training key staff to ensure that they are properly implemented.
25 February 2008: Impact of working conditions and work-related accidents on wages (Portugal / Information update)
An innovative study on wages and working conditions carried out by the Centre for Applied Mathematics and Economics at the University of Lisbon evaluated the monetary compensation for those working in sectors with dangerous, risky and painful working conditions. The study revealed that a positive wage differential exists for workers who show an increased exposure to work-related risks.
04 February 2008: Risk management strategy tackles health and safety problems (Belgium / Information update)
‘SOBANE’ is a health and safety risk management methodology created by a team at the Catholic University of Louvain and promoted by the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue. The method has recently been updated and broadened with new applications in a range of economic sectors. The SOBANE strategy involves the active participation of staff in screening for potential safety risks and finding solutions.
29 January 2008: Work environment continues to improve (Norway / Survey data report [ or view as size 631 kb])
In 2006, Statistics Norway conducted the sixth Level of Living Survey: Working Conditions, which outlines the general situation of workers and workplaces in Norway and charts trends in working conditions. The survey results indicate that levels of exposure to physical risk factors are generally low, although the proportion of workers experiencing repetitive movements at work has increased. The findings also reveal that employees have high levels of job demands and job control, and good opportunities for professional development.
29 January 2008: ‘Inclusive working life’ programme reduces sick leave in companies (Norway / Information update)
‘Inclusive working life’ (IWL) is a Norwegian intervention programme aimed at reducing sick leave and increasing the average retirement age. In 2005, the National Institute of Occupational Health evaluated the programme by examining 86 company cases, with a view to identifying possible success factors. Such factors were found to include integrating IWL within the corporate strategy, enabling employee participation, and availing of occupational health services.
23 January 2008: Working conditions remain stable in the Netherlands (Netherlands / Survey data report [ or view as size 434 kb])
Despite significant changes in the national questionnaires on work and health, the quality of work as well as health complaints in the Netherlands appear to be relatively stable. Pace of work seems to be on the increase again and more people are working in excess of their contractual hours. Notwithstanding changes in disability legislation, psychological disorders remain a factor in dropping out of employment. Overall, absenteeism has been decreasing recently although work-related illnesses tend to result in longer spells of absence.
21 January 2008: Link between negative work environment and risk of exclusion (Denmark / Information update)
The shortage of labour is a much debated issue in Denmark. A study shows that a poor work environment is closely associated with labour market exclusion, and that the work environment factors that can cause exclusion are unevenly spread. In particular, strained work postures, degree of influence over work, poor development opportunities and heavy lifting are factors that can lead to exclusion. Promoting a better work environment is therefore essential in order to prevent exclusion.
21 December 2007: Migrant workers prone to more work-related accidents but fewer diseases (Italy / Information update)
The report ‘Work accidents and occupational diseases among migrant workers’ is the first study on the health and safety of non-EU workers. These workers report higher work accidents than Italian workers do because of their poor quality jobs, which are often undeclared or of a temporary nature. However, migrant workers report a lower level of occupational diseases than their Italian counterparts because of the so-called ‘healthy migrant worker effect’.
21 December 2007: High level of perceived risk among call centre operators (Italy / Information update)
Working conditions and health and safety risks in call centres are attracting increasing attention from both occupational therapists and sociologists. A study carried out in seven ‘in-house’ call centres shows higher stress and health risks than among those working in ‘outsourcing’ call centres, although the former seem to offer better legal and contractual protection than the latter.
10 December 2007: Wide disparities in risk exposure and negative health outcomes (Norway / Information update)
Life expectancy has been steadily improving in Norway during the last decades. A recent report provides comprehensive information on working conditions and occupational health. Although, in general, workers considered the level of job demands, job control and social support as balanced, exposure to physical and chemical risks and work-related health outcomes remain a concern, especially in some economic sectors and occupational groups.
10 December 2007: Impact of high job strain on health over time (Belgium / Information update)
A doctoral thesis on ‘Psychosocial job stress in relation to health’ at Ghent University reveals significant health effects of stressful jobs, including a greater probability of high blood pressure, lower back pain and depression. A further noteworthy finding was the observed gender difference in work-related health outcomes: women with stressful jobs were more exposed to psychological health problems while men were more likely to report physical health problems.
26 November 2007: High incidence of work-related health problems in Oslo (Norway / Information update)
Work-related health problems are very common among people living in Norway’s capital city of Oslo, a recent study published in the scientific journal ‘Occupational Medicine’ has revealed. Almost 60% of Oslo citizens aged 30–45 years reported one or more work-related health problems in the previous month. The results suggest the significant potential for illness prevention through the reduction of known risk factors in the workplace.
26 November 2007: Decline in occupational illnesses over past 10 years (Romania / Information update)
A recent study published by the Institute for Public Health reveals a decrease in the number of new cases of occupational diseases in Romania. The most common work-related illnesses are silicosis, diseases caused by noise or by inhaling toxic fumes, and asthma. The areas of economic activity reporting the highest incidence of occupational illness are metal and iron ore quarrying and preparation, road transport and metallurgy.
19 November 2007: Number of occupational accidents highest in six years (Denmark / Information update)
For the third consecutive year, the number of occupational accidents has increased in Denmark. In 2006, some 62 fatal accidents were reported, which is the highest number of such accidents in six years, according to a new report from the Danish Working Environment Authority. This corresponds with a general trend showing an increase in the number of accidents at the workplace.
12 November 2007: Reduction in occupational injuries at the workplace (Spain / Information update)
The Health at Work Observatory recently published its 2006 ‘Occupational health report’, which analyses the current state of safety and health at work issues in Spain. The report identifies a remarkable decline in both fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries in recent years. It also suggests that Spanish workers cite greater exposure to psychosocial and organisational risk factors.
08 October 2007: Managing musculoskeletal disorders (TRANS NATIONAL / Comparative analytical report [ or view as size 1030 kb])
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is the most widespread occupational-related illness in the EU. However, despite this prevalence, there have been few efforts to estimate the overall costs of the illness. Statistics on MSDs tend to underestimate the extent while failing to take the national situation and changing work context into account. Researchers agree that nowadays MSDs which are directly linked to strenuous working conditions are on the decline, while those related to stress and work overload are increasing. Organisational problems can be at the root of MSDs, and a participatory approach to prevention policies has found to be effective.
13 August 2007: New plan to improve workplace health and safety (Poland / Information update)
Plans to adapt Polish practice to the current EU strategy with respect to health and safety at work were formulated in accordance with recommendations issued by the Labour Protection Council endeavour The plans were drafted on the basis of a report commissioned by the Polish government from the Central Institute for Labour Protection. The social partners are now considering the proposals.
06 August 2007: Attitudes of managers towards health and safety at work (Slovenia / Information update)
Managers in Slovenian organisations are, on average, well aware of the importance of employees’ health for the functioning of the organisation, and of the mutual impact of work and health on each other. Female managers are more sensitive to health at work issues than their male counterparts. However, in practice, the majority of managers deal with health and safety issues at work only when required to rather than on a regular basis.
02 July 2007: Fall in number of people on disability pension (Poland / Information update)
Poland has one of the highest rates of people of working age with an officially certified work incapacity in the EU. In recent years, however, a downward trend in the scale of disability benefits has been observed. Data on medical decisions concerning work incapacity sheds some light on the issue, while the public auditor points to the problems still present in social security policy regarding working disabilities.
18 June 2007: Women not more exposed than men to work-related physical risks (Netherlands / Information update)
Contrary to the general assumption that women are physically weaker than men, recent analyses show that exposure to work-related occupational risk factors is neither systematically higher for women nor does it cause them to develop musculoskeletal disorders to a greater extent than men do. It seems that the gender difference in the occurrence of MSD is caused by exposure to other factors than are solely work related.
18 June 2007: Number of occupational accidents on the decline (Portugal / Information update)
According to statistics issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity, the number of accidents at work is on the decline. Moreover, as recent figures show, this trend also applies to fatal accidents at work. However, the reality is that more than 150 persons die every year in Portugal as a result of an accident at work. Through its National Action Programme for Growth and Employment 2005–2008, the government aims to promote risk prevention at the workplace.
21 May 2007: Industrial workers most exposed to job strain (France / Information update)
Analysis of the 2003 SUMER survey results reveals five groups of workers who are exposed to risks at work. These risks relate to work-related stress and strain, in line with the ‘Karasek model’. The results indicate that the group of workers most at risk of job strain are those working in industry. Conversely, white-collar workers are the least at risk of job strain among the five groups identified.
27 April 2007: Health and safety at work in Greece (Greece / Survey data report [ or view as size 176 kb])
The findings of a 2005 study by the Labour Institute (INE) of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) reveal significant problems in Greece as regards the implementation of legislation on health and safety at work. Risk prevention measures and safety and health practices are being ignored, while levels of monitoring are also inadequate. Moreover, many workers and managers are unaware of the relevant legislation, which is outdated and excessively complex in many cases. Infringement of normal working hours and illegal and/or legal overtime, as well as tight deadlines, have increased the levels of accidents in the workplace in recent years. The report recommends financial incentives and penalties, in addition to awareness-raising campaigns, to ensure greater compliance with health and safety legislation.
27 April 2007: More people working and fewer accidents at work (Poland / Information update)
The Polish Ministry of the Economy has published a report setting out data concerning economic activity and inactivity, job security and the social insurance system. It shows that the situation continues to improve with regard to combating unemployment, and it also examines the incidence of accidents in the workplace and resulting compensation claims. However, the continuing emigration of young, well-educated workers and the low average retirement age remain of particular concern.
23 April 2007: Assessment of working conditions at construction and building sites (Slovakia / Information update)
In Slovakia, working conditions in the construction sector are associated with higher risk to the lives and health of employees. The most common hazard for workers in this sector is in the area of mechanical operations. However, workers are also at risk due to improper installation and handling of electrical equipment or the use of building chemicals.
04 April 2007: Workers in Veneto region less exposed to risk factors but work is more repetitive (Italy / Information update)
According to a pilot study on occupational health and safety, workers in the Veneto region in northeastern Italy report less exposure to risk factors and work-related illnesses than the European average. However, they perform repetitive tasks and work long hours more frequently than average. Moreover, absenteeism is significantly higher than the average in Europe.
23 March 2007: Integrating health and safety into education and training (Bulgaria / Information update)
During the European week for safety and health at work in October 2006, the Bulgarian government hosted a national conference on the occupational safety and health of young people in the country’s capital city, Sofia. The conference was part of the European health and safety campaign ‘Safe start’, which was dedicated to ensuring young people a safe and healthy start in their working lives. The emphasis was on the need to teach young people about health and safety at work and to foster a culture of risk prevention.
14 March 2007: Decrease in health risks and accidents at the workplace (Poland / Survey data report [ or view as size 191 kb])
Risks to health in the workplace and occupational accidents and diseases have declined significantly in Poland in the 15 years from 1991 to 2005. Nevertheless, there are still a number of risk factors prevailing, with certain sectors being particularly vulnerable. At least 12% of the workforce is working under hazardous conditions and the total is probably even higher, as no data are available for privately owned farms and for enterprises with fewer than 10 employees: these are thought to be among the high risk categories. Due to the surplus of labour supply available, some employers put a high priority on competitiveness and disregard the issue of safety. However, there are signs that this situation is changing, at least in some sectors. The Central Statistical Office survey for 2005 also gathered data on risk prevention.
14 March 2007: Workplace safety still an issue in agriculture (Poland / Information update)
Agriculture is considered to be one of the most unsafe sectors of Poland’s economy. Despite improvements in recent years, the level of occupational accidents on farms is considerably higher than in other sectors of the economy. Moreover, a large number of minors continue to work in this hazardous working environment.
13 March 2007: Survey highlights rise in psychosocial demands at work (Denmark / Survey data report [ or view as size 369 kb])
The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, formerly the National Institute of Occupational Health, has conducted the fourth Danish Work Environment Cohort Study (DWECS) covering the five-year period 2000–2005. The 2005 results indicate no clear trend of overall better or worse conditions for workers. Nevertheless, an increase in psychosocial demands at the workplace has been identified, such as a high pace of work, a demanding workload and emotional demands. Conversely, the study also reveals increases in decision latitude, better future prospects in the job and more support for workers from superiors. However, considerable differences among workers persist in relation to jobs, sectors and gender.
02 March 2007: Monitoring working conditions of long-distance drivers (Slovakia / Information update)
Road transport is one of the most dangerous sectors in terms of health risks to employees. The risk of an accident is high, due to long-distance drivers failing to respect rest periods and succumbing to exhaustion as a result of monotonous driving, too much time spent behind the wheel or lapses in concentration. Since 2004, road transport is regulated by Act No. 121/2004 Coll. on driving hours and rest periods, which covers drivers employed by transport companies, self-employed drivers as well as drivers of vehicles registered abroad who travel within Slovakia on international journeys. Monitoring adherence to this act falls within the responsibility of the National Labour Inspectorate.
12 February 2007: Low level of compliance with screen safety regulations (Slovakia / Information update)
In 2005, the National Labour Inspectorate carried out a nationwide survey to investigate compliance with regulations on the use of visual display units in the workplace and provide guidelines in relation to this. The results have since been published and reveal an unsatisfactory level of compliance with the minimum safety and health requirements for work with computer screens, despite significant efforts to improve health and safety in this area.
05 February 2007: Work accidents and diseases continue to decline (Germany / Information update)
The recently published annual report on health and safety at work reveals that both the number of accidents at work and the prevalence of occupational diseases have continued to decline. Whereas the total expenditure on accident insurance has remained relatively constant, the amount spent on accident prevention measures has increased steadily over the years.
05 February 2007: Inadequate protection against workplace noise (Slovakia / Information update)
Noise is among the most common risk factors in the working environment. The main sources of noise are machines, technical equipment and technological processes; however, noise also present in manual work, and in device and materials handling. In 2005, the National Labour Inspectorate undertook several initiatives within the framework of a campaign aimed at the protection of employees. Among other aspects, the inspection examined noise at the workplace and its elimination.
23 January 2007: EU campaign to raise awareness of dangers of asbestos (EU Level / Information update)
Asbestos-contaminated products and buildings continue to represent a dangerous hazard to EU citizens, costing the lives of many people. In addition to passing legislation banning the use and handling of this deadly fibre, the EU is running a campaign to remind people of the risks associated with exposure to asbestos. The campaign forms part of a concerted effort to identify and safely dispose of asbestos.
27 November 2006: Increase in occupational accidents and illnesses (Ireland / Information update)
The Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published a detailed statistical report ‘Summary of fatality, injury and illness statistics 2004–2005’, which provides a statistical portrait of the numbers, types and causes of occupational injuries and illnesses in Ireland. Among the key findings of the report are that the number of people killed in workplace accidents increased by almost 50% between 2004 and 2005, while back injuries are the most common result of accidents. Particular risk groups have been identified and the HSA has issued a series of targeted risk alerts as part of an action programme to address the high number of accidents and fatalities.
27 November 2006: Code of Practice on work safety in agriculture (Ireland / Information update)
The Irish Health and Safety Authority has published a Code of Practice which provides practical guidance to farmers and others working in the agricultural sector on how to avoid occupational injuries and illnesses. The farmyard has traditionally been regarded as one of the two most dangerous types of workplaces in Ireland, with over 3,000 accidents occurring each year.
06 November 2006: Bonuses for hazardous working conditions still prevalent (Czech Republic / Information update)
Legislation in the Czech Republic entitles employees to receive risk bonuses for work that is dangerous or that poses a risk to their health. The law explicitly allows for the determination of further bonus amounts under a collective agreement. This practice is widely used and consequently increases the financial attractiveness of jobs with difficult and hazardous working conditions.
09 October 2006: Latest findings on accidents at work (Malta / Information update)
In the first quarter of 2006, three persons lost their lives as a result of workplace accidents in Malta while a total of 983 persons suffered non-fatal accidents at work. These are the findings of a news release concerning accidents at work, published by the National Statistics Office in May 2006. Many of these accidents occurred in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and mainly affected employees in elementary occupations.
25 September 2006: Supervisors subject to increasing work demands (Finland / Information update)
According to the Finnish Quality of Work Life Survey, expectations of supervisory work have grown and diversified. The increasing demands in working life have put the greatest pressure on supervisors and, the more subordinates a supervisor has, the heavier is their workload. Meanwhile, the organisation of supervisory work has changed considerably. While the number of employees in a supervisory position has increased, more supervisors have been assigned operational supervisory duties but without administrative subordinates.
09 August 2006: Integration of wheelchair users in the workforce (Latvia / Information update)
A recent study by the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences looks at the barriers to integrating wheelchair users in the workforce. Only 20% of disabled wheelchair users in Latvia are employed. The level of employment is even lower among female wheelchair users and non-nationals. While 74.3% of wheelchair users who are currently unemployed would like to have a job, only 41.5% are actively seeking work. The study found that, in addition to objective circumstances, such as mobility problems and environmental accessibility, there are also subjective factors influencing the integration of wheelchair users into the labour market. These include employers’ attitudes towards wheelchair users and the passivity of disabled people themselves or their reluctance to get involved in working life.
04 August 2006: High rates of MSD among supermarket workers (Italy / Information update)
A survey among supermarket workers in the Marche region of Italy, carried out by the local branch of a trade union, finds high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Repetitive work is a feature of occupations within the sector; workers, however, have little awareness of risk. This seems to be at least partly due to their work status, as many of the employees have only been in their jobs for a short period and have non-standard work contracts.
08 June 2006: Impact of flexible working hours on health (Germany / Information update)
A high degree of variability in working hours has been found to correlate with increased risks for health and psychosocial well-being, especially if the variability is company controlled rather than being of the employee’s choosing.
12 May 2006: Postural and articular stress at work (France / Information update)
Almost half of all workers in France, or 8.4 million people, are exposed to at least one type of severe postural or articular stress, affecting more than two thirds of manual workers and one in five professionals. Postural stress can be divided into three main categories: tiring positions, strain-inducing postures and vertebral stress. The consequences for workers’ health depend on various factors, including the duration of exposure.
12 May 2006: Contraintes postural et articulaires au travail (France / Information update)
Cette information est publiée dans la langue originale. Elle a été diffusée par l’Observatoire européen des conditions de travail (EWCO) comme service à ses utilisateurs. EWCO est un projet de la Fondation européenne pour l’amélioration des conditions de vie et de travail. Néanmoins, cette information n’a été ni éditée ni approuvée par la Fondation, ce qui veut dire que celle-ci n’est pas responsable de son contenu ou de son exactitude. Ce texte relève du Centre national EWCO qui a fourni l’information.Les contraintes posturales ou articulaires contribuent à la pénibilité du travail, entraînant des phénomènes d'usure, de vieillissement prématuré et de maladies. Elles favorisent notamment les atteintes rhumatologiques des membres, plus fréquentes chez les salariés de plus de 55 ans. Leurs conséquences sur l'état de santé dépendent, entre autres, de la durée pendant laquelle les salariés y sont exposés.
24 March 2006: Workplace legislation in small and medium-sized enterprises (Germany / Information update)
A report on the implementation of workplace legislation, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), offers suggestions for reorganising legal regulations and for special measures to help companies to comply with the law.
08 February 2006: Working conditions for employees with disabilities (Sweden / Information update)
Every sixth employed person has one or more disabilities, a recent survey reveals. Almost half of them consider their ability to work to be reduced.
13 January 2006: Outlook for occupational risk trends (Denmark / Information update)
A report published by the Danish Working Environment Authority investigates the relationship between changes in employment structure, new job profiles and occupational risk factors. It is estimated that, in the near future, there will be increased risk of physical inactivity, psychosocial risk factors and monotonous strain from working with computers. Moreover, the persistence of traditional work factors should not be neglected.
12 January 2006: Work-related disorders in Sweden (Sweden / Survey data report [ or view as size 64 kb])
One in four employed persons in Sweden has suffered from a work-related disorder in the past 12 months, according to the latest Swedish Work-related disorders survey. This survey data report focuses on disorders resulting from occupational accidents, stress and ergonomic factors. It identifies the most common ailments affecting men and women, outlines the occupations most at risk, examines sickness absence rates, and considers the problem of under-reporting.
09 January 2006: Hazardous workplaces (Hungary / Information update)
Work safety inspectors carry out regular assessments of company premises in Hungary. When they find any kind of offence against the Labour Protection Act, they impose a penalty. The sum accumulated from these fines will be distributed among those who successfully tender to implement work safety improvement measures.
02 December 2005: Work-related health problems (Estonia / Information update)
A third of working men and two-fifths of working women in Estonia have jobs that are stressful and offer little autonomy. This type of work produces the greatest psychological stress among employees. Analyses show that women have to do more sedentary jobs than men and that they are absent from work due to illness less often than men; however, they feel overtired more often.
30 November 2005: Working conditions in the banking sector (Bulgaria / Information update)
A risk assessment survey among employees in the banking sector found that the main risk factor perceived by the respondents is computer use and its related effects: poor sitting position (reported by 76%, leading to musculoskeletal disorders) and eye problems due to excessive use of screens (reported by 91%).
28 November 2005: Noise in the workplace (France / Information update)
Almost 7% of French employees are exposed to hazardous noise levels. A further 25% are subjected to other types of noise, less harmful in terms of health but which have some adverse effects, nonetheless.
07 November 2005: Green light for occupational safety (Hungary / Information update)
Many Hungarian employers are not adhering to occupational safety regulations, not because they do not want to do so or even due to financial reasons, but simply because they do not know the rules. This is the finding of occupational safety inspectors. The Labour Safety Act states that enterprises must employ an occupational safety specialist but many employers are unaware of this. The occupational safety information service provides details of the relevant regulations.
03 November 2005: Occupational risks in the electricity sector (Romania / Information update)
Operators in the electricity supply sector face particular stress in the workplace, a study reveals. They have a high pace of work, which demands great precision and concentration. In addition to suffering from work overload and high occupational risk, they have to cope with considerable responsibilities in terms of decision-making and problem-solving.
26 October 2005: Heavy work, absenteeism and physical disorders (Sweden / Information update)
About one third of the Swedish workforce are employed in jobs involving physically heavy work, a recently published report reveals. Injuries to muscles, joints and tendons, and, in particular, back problems are frequently cited as reasons for sick leave within professions where heavy work is common.
14 September 2005: Improved working conditions due to tougher inspection measures (Bulgaria / Information update)
Some positive trends have recently been reported in relation to working conditions in Bulgaria. Such trends have largely been attributed to intensified enforcement measures taken by the General Labour Inspectorate. In 2004, for example, the Inspectorate closed 1,611 enterprises and imposed total fines of about three million BGN (c. €1.54 million).
09 September 2005: Organisational change influences working conditions (EU Level / Information update)
Work organisation impacts on working conditions and health. The majority of workers are affected by organisational change. Differences are evident between clusters of organisation, patterns of organisational change, and groups of workers.
15 July 2005: Managing occupational disability (Austria / Information update)
Reduced working efficiency due to severe health problems still poses a major employment risk. Employers either show no interest in staff ill-health or do not know how to deal with it. These are the main findings of a study analysing the employment situation of people who have retired on the grounds of occupational disability.
28 April 2005: Working conditions and health in Swedish call centres (Sweden / Information update)
A 2003 study found that nine out of 10 call centre operators had suffered some type of physical ailment in the last month. High noise levels are a particular risk factor. In all, some 10% of their working time was lost on sick leave.
13 April 2005: Mental stress in flexible jobs (Germany / Information update)
Workers in several occupations, characterised by flexible location and time arrangements, experience a heavy mental workload, a screening procedure has found.
09 March 2005: Health risks of physically strenuous work (Austria / Information update)
Working conditions in certain sectors can lead to serious health problems among employees. Among those working in physically strenuous jobs, these problems manifest themselves in higher invalidity rates and a lower life expectancy. In light of recent pension reforms in Europe, which aim at raising the retirement age, the findings of a study on the construction industry are particularly relevant.
09 February 2005: Work-related health problems (Sweden / Information update)
A report in Sweden finds an increasing number of health problems in the workplace, particularly with regard to mental health. It also reveals that occupational level, background and gender are factors influencing the health of workers.
10 December 2004: The cost of poor working conditions (Netherlands / Information update)
An estimate of the multiple costs incurred by workplace accidents, illnesses and long-term absence in the Netherlands puts the amount at 3% of total GNP. Musculoskeletal disorders and psychosocial diseases are responsible for 83% of the cost of work-related health issues.
08 December 2004: Preventive health measures in France (France / Information update)
Preventive measures for certain occupational illnesses have been established as a priority by the French government. These include cancers and illness as a result of exposure to asbestos. However, so far, progress has been slow due to economic, technical and sociological reasons.
29 November 2004: Fifth National Survey on Working Conditions, Spain (Spain / Survey data report [ or view as size 104 kb])
The results of the Fifth National Survey on Working Conditions reveal an improvement in the risk preventive systems used by Spanish businesses. However, working conditions seem to have slightly disimproved, according to workers’ self-assessment of their own conditions. This trend has had negative health outcomes.
13 August 2004: Employers’ networks support return to work (Sweden / Information update)
Since the early 1990s, employers’ networks (‘Arbetsgivarringar’ in Swedish) have gained in popularity among private companies and public organisations. Today, there are about 50 local networks spread across the country. The main focus of employers’ networks is human resource needs, particularly in relation to people who are returning to the workplace after a period of illness or unemployment.
13 July 2004: Fewer work accidents but increasing proportion of repetitive strain injuries (Denmark / Information update)
A new report from the National Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet, AT) presents both positive and negative trends in the Danish working environment over the last decade. While fewer work-related accidents are reported, problems caused by repetitive work represent a growing proportion of work-related illnesses.
30 April 2004: Decrease in number of occupational accidents and illnesses (Finland / Information update)
2003 saw a fall of 2% in the total number of occupational accidents in Finland. Recent figures show that the incidence of occupational accidents and illnesses also decreased slightly in 2003.
19 April 2004: Gender issues in health and safety at work (EU Level / Information update)
Gender differences in working conditions have to be taken into account in order to assess real occupational health risks and work-related accidents, and to develop strategies towards effective prevention.
08 March 2004: Decline in absenteeism rate in Germany (Germany / Information update)
In 2003, the absenteeism rate in Germany fell to its lowest level for the past 30 years. At the same, a significant increase in psychological illnesses is reported.
11 December 2003: Presenteeism among sick workers (Netherlands / Information update)
Much attention has been focused on absenteeism. However, ‘presenteeism’ is also an issue, i.e. staying at work even when feeling sick. Analyses have shown that, the greater the work pressure, the higher the percentage of people who keep working when feeling sick.