18/05/2011

Workplace Health and Safety takes centre stage

Brenda O'Brien

It's day three of the Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation in Athens and the work continues at a fast pace. Congress adopted the European trade union action plan to improve the health and safety situation in workplaces, stating that it was the least privileged socio-professional categories which were the worst hit by the health impacts of dangerous and detrimental working conditions.

The Chair of the EU-OSHA Governing Board, Károly György, has been a regular visitor to the Agency stand between sessions and has on occasion helped us out when we encountered technical problems!  He has been at the forefront of preparing the new ETUC health and safety policy and is pleased that it is now adopted by Congress.

"Experience shows us that trade union presence and the existence of safety representatives is the factor that makes a difference in improving the occupational safety and health situation. We must not forget that the changes in the world of work, the structure of industries and the sectors expose workers to ever more complex work organisation, increased psychosocial factors, with higher exposure to dangerous substances - and these require collective action by all protagonists of the "OSH family". The ETUC will push for better and "safer" European and national policies and practices" he said.

Károly continued by explaining that the ETUC congress resolution would be used as a basis for contributing to the preparation of the 2013 - 2020 European strategy on health and safety.

"We need to improve the pillars of prevention systems, namely that of safety representatives, in order to cover all workers with practices of corresponding rights as well as prevention services and labour inspection."

He added, "I want to thank the colleagues of the Agency, who operate the EU-OSHA stand in the Congress foyer, with informative materials and their openness for consultations - I have received positive comments from union colleagues."

Thanks, Károly!

The Congress will end tomorrow afternoon.

Brenda O'Brien in Athens