23% of European workers believe that their safety or their health is at risk because of their work – a figure which shows that working conditions in Europe are not improving. And even though manufacturing employment across Europe is shrinking and losing ground to service jobs, exposure to traditional physical hazards - noise, dangerous goods, heavy lifting, etc. – has not gone away.
Along with this, a growing number of workers are complaining of the effect their work is having on their psychological health. Ill-being at work can end in tragedy, as evidenced by the wave of suicides that has affected some big French companies in recent years.
New forms of work organization and the increasing time-pressure of work may be partly behind the persistence of traditional risks and the emergence of new ones in firms. Trade unions believe that work intensification is the main cause of the work-related stress and musculoskeletal disorders now seen to be affecting more than one in five workers.
While these may be problems in all countries, industries and occupations, it is clear that the lowest-skilled and manual workers are bearing the brunt. The healthy life expectancy of a 35-year-old manual worker in France, for example, is ten years less than that of a manager. As the talk in many EU member countries turns towards staying working longer, a debate on working conditions and their impact on workers’ health is a must. We are stepping into that debate through the following topic studies.
Researchers estimate the United States economy takes a €310 billion hit annually as endocrine-disrupting compounds lower IQs, increase behavior problems and exacerbate health problems like obesity and diabetes.
On 13 October the Council approved a directive which gives legal effect to an agreement between EU social partners* in the maritime fisheries sector. In 2012, these European organisations reached an agreement within the Social Dialogue Committee for Sea Fisheries on a text which would transpose into EU Law the 2007 ILO Work in Fishing Convention.
Dans un rapport publié le 20 octobre, l'organisme français Eurogip dresse un état des lieux des possibilités de reconnaissance des troubles musculosquelettiques (TMS) en maladie professionnelle dans dix pays européens*.
Every year in the Netherlands, approximately 500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer related to exposure to asbestos. This figure has remained stable since 2005. In absolute terms, the number of persons diagnosed with mesothelioma has doubled since the early 1980s, rising from 274 in 1982 to 502 in 2005.
On 21 September 2016, the European Commission published a report aimed at assessing the framework agreement on harassment and violence at work adopted in 2007 by the European social partners. The document reports wide disparities between countries with regard to the implementation of the agreement and its real impact at company level.
Tony Musu (ETUI), Laurent Vogel (ETUI) and Henning Wriedt (Beratungs- und Informationsstelle Arbeit & Gesundheit, Hamburg)
Hugh Robertson (TUC, United Kingdom)
Henning Wriedt (Occupational Health & Safety Advice Centre, Hamburg, Germany)
Christophe Hauert, Danielle Bütschi, Jean-Christophe Graz, Marc Audétat et Alain Kaufmann