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The current state of occupational safety and health in Europe

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In her presentation, Dr Christa Sedlatschek draws attention to the current challenges in occupational safety and health; she describes the changing landscape of the European workforce and highlights …

In her presentation, Dr Christa Sedlatschek draws attention to the current challenges in occupational safety and health; she describes the changing landscape of the European workforce and highlights some of the new solutions for handling risks at work.


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  • 1. The current state of occupational safety andhealth in EuropeDr Christa SedlatschekDirector Nicosia 18th October 2012 Safety and health at work is everyone‟s concern. It‟s good for you. It‟s good for business.
  • 2. Overview Changing nature of work in Europe OSH management in Europe‟s workplaces Public perceptions Views from the experts Conclusions http://osha.europa.eu 2
  • 3. The changing European workforce  rates of employment • long-term trend, despite the economic crisis  rates of female employment • but still unequally distributed across the workforce  ageing  reduced pool of workers •  need to improve workability of those who may have previously easily gone into early or medical retirement. Health issues > accidents  migrant workers, likely to continue despite recent dip due to the crisis • Double demographic drive: older EU & extremely young populations in emigrant countries (with weak economies, unable to generate jobs for them) http://osha.europa.eu 3
  • 4. A “top heavy” European population http://osha.europa.eu 4
  • 5. Fewer young and more older workers http://osha.europa.eu 5
  • 6. Workability by age and occupation 50Dayssickleave 45 construction worker roofer 40 potter businesspeople 35 30 parliamentarian scientist 25 20 15 10 5 0 <25 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 Age http://osha.europa.eu 6
  • 7. Changes in business patterns http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/performance-review/index_en.htm http://osha.europa.eu 7
  • 8. The gender dimension There is still significant gender segregation across sectors, occupations, and tasks • Accident statistics may underestimate the impact for women Women are over-represented in part-time and temporary jobs • Lower pay, less access to training, limited professional development & preventive services Working populations with „combined vulnerability‟, at higher risk of social exclusion • Older, female, migrant workers (e.g., cleaners) Gender should be a transversal aspect • In policy, implementation (e.g., gender-sensitive risk assessment), data collection/analysis… http://osha.europa.eu 8
  • 9. Drivers for health and safety % establishments,100% EU-2790%80%70%60%50%40%30%20%10% 0% 10-19 employees 20-49 employees 50-249 employees 250+ employees Fulfillment of legal obligation Requests from employees or their representatives Requirements from clients or concern about the organisation‟s reputation Staff retention and absence management Pressure from the labour inspectorate Economic or performance-related reasons http://osha.europa.eu 9
  • 10. Barriers to prevention 100 90 80 73 70 70 59 60 50 44 44 44 41 41 40 38 40 38 40 38 37 38 35 33 31 30 25 25 20 10 0 10 to 19 20 to 49 50 to 249 250 to 499 500 + Lacking necessary expertise RA too time consuming/expensive Too complex legal obligations on RA Not necessary, no major problems http://osha.europa.eu 10
  • 11. The challenge of smaller enterprises 9 8 7 Sweden 6 Spain In some countries even the very smallest Slovenia 5 workplaces indicate high levels of health and safety measures and procedures. Germany However, we must remember that without 4 genuine management commitment these can be France simply a „paper exercise‟. 3 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 http://osha.europa.eu 11
  • 12. Importance of worker representation % establishments, EU27 Risk assessment is more100 likely if there is a health and safety representative – especially in small firms. 95 90 85 80 75 10 to 19 20 to 49 50 to 249 250 to 499 500 + EU-27 Average Total Establishments with H&S representative http://osha.europa.eu 12
  • 13. The win-win situation  Health and safety management is more likely and more likely to be effective in organisations that not only have an employee representative but also give that person an appropriate context in which to work Management commitment + worker representation = High OSH performance http://osha.europa.eu 13
  • 14. Public perception: Job-related stress http://osha.europa.eu 14
  • 15. Public perception: OSH & economics http://osha.europa.eu 15
  • 16. Public perception: OSH and retirement http://osha.europa.eu 16
  • 17. Views from the Risk Observatory  Some “old” risks remain a problem • May have impact in a new way  Health problems have huge impact on individuals and economic performance • Psychosocial issues and MSDs • Need to tackle underlying issues and risk factors  “Combined factors” a concern • Interaction between hazards / causal factors  Impact on specific groups may be hidden in overall data http://osha.europa.eu 17
  • 18. New and emerging risks  New hazards • Nanotechnologies  New forms of work organisation • Mobile workers  New industry sectors • “Green jobs”  New career paths • Flexibility and variety throughout the working life  New health impacts on workers and employers • Managing chronic health issues in older workers http://osha.europa.eu 18
  • 19. New solutions • Traditional worker protection alone not enough • OSH beyond the traditional engineering / scientific disciplines • Joined-up thinking with social and public health policies • Linkage between public and occupational health • Addressing well-being at work • WHP returns on investment range € 2,5 to € 4,8  New tools for those implementing prevention • OiRA and interactive information sources http://osha.europa.eu 19
  • 20. Research priorities: Preliminary findings  Ongoing investigation into new technologies • E.g. nanotechnologies, new energy technologies)  Research into occupational exposures to chemical and biological agents • Including CMRs and also research into measuring techniques)  Economic impacts of OSH and “non-OSH”  Organisational and structural changes • Impact on worker health and safety  Demographic change • Approaches to prolong the working life http://osha.europa.eu 20
  • 21. Conclusions for EU-OSHA Europe is facing a undergoing major change • How it works and • Who is working There is significant variation in the situation in Member States • No “one size fits all” solutions A holistic, joined-up approach to prevention, with legal, financial, and societal measures is required • Cross-policy approach – no “silos” http://osha.europa.eu 21
  • 22. Messages from workplace survey data  Legislation is the principal driver for prevention  Lack of awareness is the principal barrier to prevention  Micro and small firms need support • Especially below 100 employees  Worker participation and management leadership are both key success factors to effective prevention http://osha.europa.eu 22
  • 23. Older workers pilot initiative  Initiated by the European Parliament  Considering issue of older workers from an OSH perspective  Supporting good age management practice  Covering workplace health promotion; „return to work‟ and rehabilitation policies  Recognising that a holistic approach is needed for workers of all ages http://osha.europa.eu 23
  • 24. Needs of small and micro-enterprisesAwareness raising Practical support tools http://osha.europa.eu 24
  • 25. More information http://osha.europa.eu http://osha.europa.eu 25