Health and Safety at Work : Commission Aims to Reduce Accidents at Work by 25%

European Social Policy, March 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

Health and Safety at Work : Commission Aims to Reduce Accidents at Work by 25%


The European Commission is expected, on 21 February, to adopt an ambitious strategy for health and safety at work for the 2007-2012 period. Given that during the previous period covered by the Community strategy (2002-2006) there was a significant decrease in the number of accidents at work, the new strategy has set a target of 25% reduction in the global rate of accidents at work in the EU27 by 2012 for reasons of economic and human necessity. "Failure to provide effective protection for the health and safety of workers can lead to absenteeism resulting from accidents at work and professional illnesses, as well as permanent disabilities caused by accidents at work, which adds a no insignificant human dimension as well as having a negative impact on the economy". The global economic cost of these accidents is estimated at between 2% and 3% of gross domestic product (GDP).

The strategy proposes eight actions:

- to ensure the correct implementation of EU legislation

- to support SMEs in implementing existing legislation

- to adapt and simplify the legal framework to keep it in line with the ever changing work environment

- to promote the development and implementation of national strategies

- to encourage workers to change their behaviour and employers to adopt a positive approach to health

- to improve the methods used in identifying and evaluating new potential risks with a particular focus on mental health

- to improve the follow up of progress already achieved

- to promote health and safety at an international level (collaboration with the International Labour Organisation and the World Health Organisation).

In this way, by means of consultations already in progress with social partners, the Commission wishes to move forward in its work on initiatives in the field of prevention of musculoskeletal risks, carcinogenic agents and risks of infection from needle pricks. It intends to adopt a third list of indicative values relating to chemical agents and will evaluate the measures taken in response to the recommendations for freelance workers and the European list of professional diseases. …

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