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26 November 2015

A quarter of European workers believe that their health is at risk because of their work

In Europe almost one worker in four (23 per cent) believes that their work represents a risk to their health, according to the first results of the European inquiry into working conditions, presented in Luxembourg on 24 November.

This figure has been falling constantly since 2000. At that time, 31 per cent of Europeans saw a link between their work and their health. This apparently positive tendency must be interpreted with caution, however, because perceptions vary strongly according to the gender, country and age of the person surveyed. For example, men are much readier to acknowledge that their work has a negative influence on their health than women (27 per cent as against 19 per cent).

Compared with the 2010 survey, conducted by 35 European countries among around 43,000 workers, there have been falls in exposure to noise and vibrations, tiring or painful positions, repetitive movements and carrying or moving heavy loads. By contrast, exposure to chemical products grew by 2 per cent (17 per cent as against 15 per cent), as did contact with materials that can be infectious. The number of workers whose jobs involve lifting or moving people also increased slightly.

With regard to psycho-social risks, there was also a slight increase: 16 per cent of people declared that they had been the victims of adverse social behaviour. This indicator brings together the responses to questions concerning exposure to verbal abuse, threats and humiliating behaviour, physical violence and psychological or sexual harassment.

As with the previous survey the vast majority of European workers (90 per cent) consider themselves well-informed about the risks to which they are exposed at work. The participants were also questioned about the support they are given at their workplace: 72 per cent believe that they can count on the help and support of their colleagues, but no more than 59 per cent think the same about management.

Several questions also concerned satisfaction in relation to their work. The authors of the survey identified a disturbing development: the number of workers having the feeling of work well done has fallen from 51 per cent in 2005 to 40 per cent in 2015.

For more information:

Eurofound: First findings: Sixth European Working Conditions Survey (24 November 2015) (pdf - 779.34 Kb)
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