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Safety and health at work: 2007-2012 EU strategy evaluated

On 31 May 2013, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a 2013-2020 strategy on safety and health at work. At the same time, the results of the evaluation of the 2007-2012 strategy were published. They suggest that a post-2012 framework is clearly needed, as all EU Member States face similar challenges.

Outcome of the evaluation

According to the evaluators the 2007-2012 strategy provided a clear policy basis and framework for coordination. Moreover, most of the actions within the six priority areas (such as national measures) have been implemented. One key objective was to reduce work-related accidents by 25% by 2012. Whilst a declining trend could be observed, the available data is limited and it remains unclear to which extent the strategy made an actual impact. Shortcomings were found in the coordination between occupational safety and health (OSH) and other policy areas such as environment and between various policy actors. Furthermore, the link between the strategy and the European social dialogue needs to be strengthened.

Post-2012 strategy recommended

The evaluation also concludes that a strong and clear framework with emphasis on health aspects is needed in the future. Particular emphasis should be given to SMEs and micro-enterprises, as they account for a high number of occupational injuries and fatal accidents. Moreover, there should be a strategic focus on musculoskeletal disorders, stress and occupational cancer deaths. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common occupational disease in the EU.

Reactions

© lily / Fotalia.com

© lily / Fotalia.com

The European Parliament invited the Commission to propose a new strategy during the mid-term review in 2011, stressing that OSH actions should not be neglected because of austerity budgets and cuts in social spending. In a 2012 conference hosted by the Danish Council presidency, EP rapporteur Karima Dell emphasised the importance of better implementation of the EU legislative framework and the need to monitor new and emerging risks. The European Trade Union Institute expressed frustration with the Commission’s hesitation over a new long-term strategy and called for urgent responses to deteriorating working conditions and the intensification of work.

About Verena Kern

Information Specialist for Employment & Social Affairs

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