After a decade at the helm of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), executive director Dr Christa Sedlatschek will retire in 2021. She reflects on EU-OSHA’s collaborative work and its campaigns in the pipeline.
EU-OSHA has established a strong collaboration with an extensive network of partners, including IOSH. Through this ever-growing network, we are able to reach more workplaces with useful tools and information tailored to their needs, and make them aware of OSH risks and prevention measures. These achievements have helped significantly improve working conditions across the EU.
Highlights during my term of office include projects we carried out for the European Parliament, the launch of our online encyclopaedia OSHWiki and our participation in the EU Roadmap on Carcinogens.
Propping up the pillar
Another welcome milestone – the European Pillar of Social Rights – delivers enhanced welfare and employment rights for the people of Europe. Some principles directly concern OSH, namely the right to safe, healthy and well-adapted workplaces as well as a healthy work/life balance.
Clearly, EU-OSHA has an important role to play in supporting the pillar’s values and putting its principles into practice, for example through our Healthy Workplaces campaigns and by providing practical tools for OSH management in the workplace, such as OiRA (the Online interactive Risk Assessment platform).
As part of anticipating the risks associated with new and emerging technologies and ways of working, EU-OSHA has embarked on a series of foresight studies. Issues addressed by EU-OSHA’s foresight projects include, so far, the impact of digitalisation, artificial intelligence and robotics in OSH and the potential risks for workers in ‘green’ jobs.
As an important follow-up, the Healthy Workplaces campaign due to start in 2023 will focus on digitalisation.
A specific highlight of our 2018-19 campaign, Manage Dangerous Substances, was carcinogens and work-related cancer, which accounts for the highest proportion of fatal occupational diseases in the EU.
The number of people who develop cancer in the EU as a result of occupational exposure to carcinogens is estimated at 120,000 per year, causing nearly 80,000 deaths annually.
EU-OSHA continues to serve as an active partner of the EU Roadmap on Carcinogens. We are also in the preparatory phase of a survey to collect comprehensive data on workers’ exposure to cancer risk in Europe.
IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign ties in well with the objectives of our exposure survey, as the aim is to better target awareness-raising campaigns and preventive measures and to contribute to evidence-based
Occupational exposure to carcinogens causes 80,000 deaths a year
Our preparations are now in full swing for the launch of EU-OSHA’s 2020-22 campaign Healthy Workplaces: Lighten the Load. The campaign aims to raise awareness of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and how to prevent them.
Lighten the Load is based on a three-year OSH overview project on work-related MSDs. The overview’s aim is to investigate the issues associated with work-related MSDs and related policies, improve our understanding of this topic and identify effective ways of preventing work-related MSDs. The project also looks into workplace measures to help prevent work-related MSDs and manage chronic MSDs, including supporting workers’ return to work and rehabilitation.
This next campaign phase will be the first Healthy Workplaces campaign to span a new, longer cycle, from October 2020 to November 2022.
The campaign will address these priority areas in relation to MSDs:
- Chronic conditions
- Facts and figures
- Future generations
- Psychosocial risks
- Sedentary work
- Worker diversity.
Ahead of the campaign launch during European Week for Safety and Health at Work at the end of October 2020, EU-OSHA will publish on the campaign website a selection of publications such as the campaign guide and other general information materials for the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April 2020.
- The EU Roadmap on Carcinogens is at roadmaponcarcinogens.eu
- For more news and information about EU-OSHA, visit bit.ly/EU-OSHA