European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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21 April 2011

Improving health and safety in agriculture: the European Parliament consults ETUI

The European Commission has recently launched a proposal for a regulation on the approval of agricultural and forestry vehicles which is now entering its first reading at the European Parliament. On 14 April, this proposal was debated during a Public Hearing organised by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), which is in charge of this affair.

The Chairman of the IMCO, Malcom Harbour, and the Rapporteur responsible for delivering a report to the Parliament, Antonio Panzeri, invited ETUI to speak at the Plenary and share the trade unions’ recommendations on how to enrich the Commission proposal from the occupational health and safety angle.

Agriculture has one of the worst incidences of fatal and non-fatal accidents at work, with only construction having a higher rate: for female workers in agriculture, the rate is higher than in any other industry sector. Machinery and toxic substances are among the main risks to health and safety. The proposal aims to establish the basic requirements for road safety, occupational safety and environmental compatibility: it is therefore an opportunity not to be missed for trade unions to make sure that the forthcoming regulation includes concrete provisions addressing occupational safety.

"We thank ETUI for its useful recommendations and for bringing together a pool of experts which the Rapporteur will have the opportunity to draw on", said the Chairman after the ETUI presentation. The next steps will be the adoption, planned for October 2011, of the report prepared by the Rapporteur: amendments will be tabled until July and then considered until October. In November the Parliament, acting by a simple majority, will deliver its first reading on the Commission proposal. ETUI will follow the work closely in order to help the proposal deliver its full potential to reduce accidents, injuries and health problems in the agriculture sector.

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