European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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29 September 2016

European trade unions' experts evaluate and plan the next steps on health and safety at work

From 8 to 9 September, in Vienna the ETUI organised its annual Strategic Seminar ‘Together for Health and Safety’. This thirteenth meeting gathered the members of the Workers’ Interest Group (WIG) of the Advisory Committee for Safety and Health at Work (ACSH).

On the first day, the emphasis was on the upcoming the Occupational safety and health (OSH) evaluation directives. ETUI researchers alongside members of the WIG explained the challenges facing standardisation, in particular the controversial proposal of an international standard on Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (ISO 45001). They also considered the Commission's draft proposal to revise the founding regulation of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

A special focus for this year’s meeting was the digitalisation of work and its impact on OSH in the workplace. The intensification of work and new types of work, make it difficult for safety representatives to protect workers effectively.

The group discussed the impact of the ETUC’s ongoing campaign ‘Stop Cancer at Work’ and the next steps of the revision of the Carcinogens directive. As a result of the campaign, six organisations, including the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), signed a Covenant on a new ‘Roadmap on carcinogens’ in Amsterdam. This voluntary action scheme aims to raise awareness about the risks of carcinogenic exposure in the workplace and to exchange good practices. The Roadmap, drawn up by the Covenant’s signatories, was adopted at a conference organised last May by the Dutch EU Presidency on the prevention of work-related cancer.

The participants discussed the development of the ETUC campaign for the coming months, taking into account the need to improve the content of the legislative proposals, which have been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

For the period 2016-2017 Esther Lynch, the ETUC confederal secretary in charge of OSH issues, pointed out the need to involve national trade unions and partners much more in order to have a greater impact on the policymaking process. Future campaigns will look at endocrine disruptors, asbestos and musculoskeletal disorders. 

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