European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

EU legislation

The Community’s duty to protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is currently discharged through various general requirements under the 1989 Framework Directive on the health and safety of workers and a series of individual directives (on the workplace, work equipment, manual handling of loads, work with visual display screens and vibration).

The trade union movement believes that existing EU legislation is insufficient to deal with the steadily spreading MSD pandemic. For more than ten years the ETUC has been calling for a general “anti-MSDs” directive that would cover all risk factors including non-biomechanical ones like work organization, psychosocial factors, etc. The union demands are opposed by the European employers. After years of drawn-out debates and two social partner consultations, the Commission finally tabled a draft directive in January 2010. In early 2013, the European Commission gave in to business organization lobbying and dropped the idea of a directive in favour of a simple non-binding recommendation.

Past ETUC responses to consultations:

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