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‘Fit for the future’: EU releases strategy for improving workplace safety and health

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Brussels — Anticipating and managing change brought by demographic, digital and green transitions, along with changes to the “traditional work environment,” is one of three objectives in the European Union’s six-year strategic plan to identify and address workplace hazards.

The European Commission, which is the EU’s executive body, says it plans to review the Workplaces Directive and the Display Screen Equipment Directive, update protective limits on lead and asbestos, and prepare an initiative on mental health at work.

Another objective in the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 is improving the prevention of workplace incidents and work-related illnesses. The framework promotes a “vision zero” approach to end workplace deaths. The commission also indicates it plans to update its hazardous chemical rules to combat cancer as well as respiratory and reproductive diseases.

The third objective is to enhance preparedness for potential future health threats. Learning from the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission notes it will develop guidance and emergency procedures for “the rapid deployment, implementation and monitoring of measures … in close cooperation with public-health actors.”

 

In a press release, European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “The EU’s legislation on occupational safety and health is essential for protecting almost 170 million workers, peoples’ lives and the functioning of our societies. The world of work is changing, driven by green, digital and demographic transitions. Healthy and safe work environments also reduce costs for people, businesses and society as a whole. That is why maintaining and improving protection standards for workers remains a priority for an economy that works for people. We need more EU action to make our workplaces fit for the future.”

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