European Commission adopt the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crucial occupational health and safety (OSH) is for protecting workers’ health, for the functioning of our society, and for the continuity of critical economic and social activities.
In this context, today (28 June 2021) the Commission is renewing its commitment to update occupational safety and health rules by adopting the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027. It sets out the key actions needed to improve workers’ health and safety over the coming years.
The update of the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work for 2021-2027 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the Commission Work Programme for 2021.
This new strategy focuses on three cross-cutting objectives, namely managing change brought by green, digital and demographic transitions as well as changes to the traditional work environment, improving prevention of accidents and illnesses, and increasing preparedness for any potential future crises.
Over the past decades, progress has been made – for example, fatal accidents at work in the EU have decreased by about 70% since between 1994 and 2018 – but more remains to be done. Despite this progress, there were still more than 3,300 fatal accidents and 3.1 million non-fatal accidents in the EU-27 in 2018.
More than 200,000 workers die each year from work-related illnesses.
The updated framework will help to mobilise EU institutions, Member States and social partners around common priorities on workers’ protection. Its actions will also help to reduce healthcare costs and support businesses, including SMEs, to become more productive, competitive and sustainable.
Three key objectives
The three key objectives are the following: change, prevention and preparedness
The strategic framework focuses on three key objectives for the coming years:
Anticipating and managing change in the new world of work
To ensure safe and healthy workplaces during the digital, green and demographic transitions, the Commission will review the Workplaces Directive and the Display Screen Equipment Directive and update protective limits on asbestos and lead.
It will prepare an EU-level initiative related to mental health at work that assesses emerging issues related to workers’ mental health and puts forward guidance for action.
Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents
This strategic framework will promote a ‘vision zero’ approach to eliminate work-related deaths in the EU. The Commission will also update EU rules on hazardous chemicals to combat cancer, reproductive, and respiratory diseases.
Increasing preparedness for possible future health threats
Drawing lessons from the current pandemic, the Commission will develop emergency procedures and guidance for the rapid deployment, implementation and monitoring of measures in potential future health crises, in close cooperation with public-health actors.