The European Commission is aiming to improve working conditions across the EU with a new Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014- 2020.
To minimise the number of workplace accidents and diseases, the Framework, which builds on the successful 2007-2012 EU Occupational Health and Safety Strategy, suggests there are three major workplace health and safety challenges to overcome in Europe. These are listed as:
Challenge 1 - Improving the implementation record of Member States, in particular by enhancing the capacity of micro and small enterprises to put in place effective and efficient risk prevention measures;
Challenge 2 - Improving the prevention of work-related diseases by tackling new and emerging risks without neglecting existing risks; and
Challenge 3 - Tackling demographic change within the EU (in light of population getting older).
In a bid to overcome said challenges, the Frameworks lists seven key strategic objectives:
1. Further consolidating national health and safety strategies;
2. Providing practical support to small and micro enterprises to help them to better comply with health and safety rules;
3. Improving enforcement by Member States;
4. Simplifying existing legislation;
5. Addressing the ageing European workforce and improving prevention of work-related diseases;
6. Improving statistical data collection to have better evidence and developing monitoring tools; and
7. Reinforcing coordination with international organisations and partners to contribute to reducing work accidents and occupational diseases and to improving working conditions worldwide.
The Commission's new workplace health and safety Framework will be reviewed in 2016.
Commenting on the Strategic Framework, László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said: "Today we are renewing the Commission's commitment to continuously upgrade people's working conditions in the EU. People have the right to work without facing health or safety risks in the workplace. Yet every year more than 3 million workers are victims of a serious accident at work in the EU and 4000 die in workplace accidents. Work related accidents and diseases affect all sectors and professions, irrespective of whether people are sitting behind a desk, driving a truck or working in a mine or on a construction site. They not only cause personal suffering but also impose high costs on companies and society as a whole. This new Strategic Framework aims to contribute to improving job quality and job satisfaction, while improving the competitiveness and productivity of European companies, especially small businesses, and reducing costs for social security systems."
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