EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work

The EU’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014–2020 (COM(2014) 332), issued in June 2014, aims to identify key challenges and strategic objectives for health and safety at work in the EU, to set out key actions to protect the health and safety of workers, and to identify instruments to achieve the goals of the framework.

The framework identifies three major challenges for safety and health at work:

  • to improve the implementation of existing health and safety regulation, in particular by enhancing the capacity of micro and small enterprises to put in place effective and efficient risk prevention strategies;
  • to improve the prevention of work-related diseases by tackling new and emerging risks without neglecting existing risks;
  • to take account of the ageing of the EU's workforce.

The framework proposes to address these challenges with actions under seven key strategic objectives:

  • further consolidating national health and safety strategies through actions such as policy coordination and mutual learning;
  • providing practical support to small and micro enterprises to help them to better comply with health and safety rules – this could include practical tools such as the Online Interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA), a web platform providing sectoral risk assessment tools;
  • improving enforcement by Member States, such as evaluating the performance of national labour inspectorates;
  • simplifying existing legislation where appropriate to eliminate unnecessary administrative burdens, while preserving a high level of worker health and safety protection;
  • addressing the ageing of the European workforce and improving prevention of work-related diseases by tackling existing risks and new risks such as those associated with nanomaterials, green technology and biotechnologies;
  • improving statistical data collection in order to provide better evidence and develop monitoring tools;
  • reinforcing coordination with international organisations and partners to contribute to reducing accidents at work and occupational diseases and to improving working conditions worldwide.

The framework states that these objectives could be achieved through actions such as social dialogue, awareness raising, enforcement of EU legislation, and creating synergies with other policy areas. EU funds, such as the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme, are available to support the implementation of health and safety regulation.

The Commission noted that this framework could be implemented only with the collaboration of national authorities and social partners. It therefore intends to hold a debate with key stakeholders and will involve them in implementing actions where appropriate.

The framework will be reviewed in 2016 in light of the results of the planned evaluation of EU occupational health and safety legislation, due for completion in 2015.

See also: Health and safety; Occupational accidents and diseases; Protective equipment; Risk assessment; Working environment.

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