Health and well-being at work
2 august 2022
Promoting high standards in working conditions, including in the area of health and well-being at work, is a key priority for the EU. The EU Directive on measures to improve safety and health at work seeks to protect workers in their place of work and promote workers’ rights in this area.
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The EU’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2017–2027 identifies important challenges and objectives for Member States in a changing world of work.Read more
The EU’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2017–2027 identifies important challenges and objectives for Member States in a changing world of work. It focuses on three key objectives: anticipating and managing change in the world of work brought about by the green, digital and demographic transitions; prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses; preparedness for any potential future health crises.
The European Pillar of Social Rights, formally proclaimed by the EU institutions in November 2017, reflects a joint commitment to providing a healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment for workers in the EU. Principle 10 includes provisions on protection of workers’ health and safety at work, as well as adapting the working environment to enable longer participation in the labour market. On 4 March 2021, the Commission presented its action plan to fully implement the Pillar.
- EUR-Lex: Council Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work
- European Commission: EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021–2027
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles
- European Commission: Health and safety at work
Eurofound has been analysing occupational health and safety since the 1990s and recognises that health issues are a central part of an organisation’s structure and development, for workers and employers alike.Read more
Eurofound has been analysing occupational health and safety since the 1990s and recognises that health issues are a central part of an organisation’s structure and development, for workers and employers alike. Analysis of survey data has been carried out to investigate the links between working conditions and health and safety. This is done in close consultation with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Eurofound has a cooperation agreement with EU-OSHA which sets out opportunities for joint activities in this area and for further forms of exchange.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) is a prime source of information on job quality and its correlation with the health and well-being of different groups of workers. Based on data from the EWCS 2015, the sixth edition of the survey, Eurofound will investigate the associations between working conditions and the physical and mental health of workers and absenteeism and presenteeism, in collaboration with EU-OSHA. A report based on the fifth EWCS 2010 focuses specifically on health and well-being at work. It looks at work-related stress and the psychosocial work environment in relation to health conditions like musculoskeletal diseases and mental health. It also explores quality of work and job security and their links with well-being. Fieldwork for EWCS 2020, the seventh edition of the survey, has commenced.
Health and mental health are important components associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) covers subjective well-being, health and access to healthcare, and aspects of individual quality of life including work–life balance and care responsibilities. It investigates the links between having to work while also having care responsibilities and the resulting impact on well-being.
The European Company Survey (ECS) examines the associations between workplace well-being and establishment performance, including absenteeism and its cost to the economy. It looks at practices to improve occupational health and safety and the influence of employee representatives. In the ECS 2013, employee representatives reported having the greatest influence on company decisions regarding occupational health and safety.
Work-related health outcomes
New information and communications technologies have revolutionised work and life in the 21st century. A joint report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Eurofound considers the effects of telework and ICT-mobile work (T/ICTM) on workers in the EU. Although there are advantages to this way of working, it is also associated with longer working hours, interference between work and personal life and work intensification. This can lead to high levels of stress with negative consequences for workers’ health and well-being.
Research has explored issues around making work sustainable over the life course. To achieve this requires devising new solutions for working conditions and career paths that help workers to retain their physical and mental health, motivation and productivity over an extended working life.
Again, in a joint report with EU-OSHA, research examined the prevalence of psychosocial risks among workers in Europe and the associations between these risks and health and well-being. It also reviewed where action is taken to prevent such risks and described possible interventions for companies.
Role of social dialogue
Eurofound’s study on the impact of the crisis on industrial relations and working conditions looks at the impact on working time arrangements and work–life balance, on work organisation and psychosocial risks, and on health and well-being at work. The annual review of working life from Eurofound’s European Observatory of Working Life also documents the national social dialogue debates centred around health and safety at work in the EU.
An earlier report on the role of governments and social partners in keeping older workers in the labour market looks at initiatives and measures introduced to improve working conditions and to enhance the health and work environment of workers, in order to encourage workers to stay in the workplace for longer.
Other research topics
Other studies have been carried out on violence and harassment at work, absence from work, use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace, work-related stress, and the employment situations of young people with health problems and disabilities and people with chronic diseases.Read less
Key outputs over the years
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (753)
- Ongoing work (4)
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: Living, working and COVID-19 data
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.