EU-OSHA Blog

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The aim of this blog is to bring you news about developments in occupational safety and health across the EU and beyond, and also about EU-OSHA initiatives and activities to fulfill our mission.

We are one of the smallest EU agencies and cannot promise to reply to every comment, but we will read them and bear them in mind to shape our future work. The blog content is available only in English.

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On 28 October 2022, EU OSHA was invited by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of North Macedonia to participate at an event co-organised by the Ministry, the National Council for Safety and Health at Work and the Office of the "Friedrich Ebert" Foundation  (FES) to enhance the marking of the EU OSH Week 2022 and to further raise awareness on the role and significance of the protection of workers' health and safety at workplaces, in particular on OSH emerging risks, such as violence and harassment and psychosocial risks at workplaces.

Following a welcome and opening remarks by the Minsiter of Labour and Social Policy and by representatives from the EU Delegation, FES and the National OSH Council, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy awarded the national companies implementing the best OSH practice.

The second part of the event focused on the specific theme of emerging OSH risks, such as harassment and violence at workplaces and psychosocial risks. Following the introduction by ILO on the latest international ILO convention on "Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work", EU OSHA shared the latest results from a 2022 Flash Eurobarometer survey aiming at gaining more insights into the state of OSH in post-pandemic workplaces as well as ESENER comparative data between the EU-27 and North Macedonia on psychosocial risks .

Representatives from the National Institute of Medicine and the State Labour Inspectorate concluded the event providing information on violence at workplace and harassement at work.

The audience was represented by 60 participants among institutions, social partners and representatives of national enterprises.

On 27 October 2022, EU OSHA (Michele Dinelli) was invited, together with the Focal Point manager (Darko Docinski), to participate at an OSH conference on the topic of "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders" organised by a national OSH association (TUTELA), that took place in the premises of the Chamber of Commerce of Skopje, North Macedonia.

Following the opening remarks by EU OSHA on the importance to reach OSH stakeholders, social partners and representatives of enterprises (especially SMEs), i.e. employers and workers, with OSH information and knowledge to ensure prevention of ill health, the FOP manager provided to the audience information on the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022 "Lighten the Load". Finally, representatives of the hosting association presented the latest secondary legislation act tackling the issue of MSDs, i.e. the recently published new "Rulebook on OSH for the Manual Handling of Loads", adopted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

The audience was represented by about 100 participants – OSH professionals from many national companies/enterprises.

The Directorate General for OSH of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Turkey invited EU OSHA to participate at the 2-day TAIEX workshop on "Tackling musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace in the post-pandemic era" organised in cooperation with TAIEX of DG NEAR of the European Commission. The aim of the workshop was to consolidate the national legislation by gathering all OSH stakeholders and discuss the ways of mitigation with the post pandemic safety and health impacts of COVID-19 on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as measures taken, best practices, implementations, risk assessment, prevention, etc. In addition, the workshop was aimed at receiving information on the EU Framework Agreement on Telework (2002) and other specific legislations of EU countries to discuss the implementation of the “Remote Work Regulation issued in 2021 in Turkey.

Following a welcome and opening remarks from the EU Delegation and by Professor Mustafa Necmi Ilhan (Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the Turkish Gazi University), who ensured the smooth implementation of the event acting as facilitator, Tim Tregenza (EU OSHA) presented the main EU legislative aspects of Remote Work and Michele Dinelli (EU OSHA) introduced to the audience the activities of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work as well as the contents of the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022 "Lighten the Load". The event saw the participation also of the following speakers who shared OSH knowledge and best practice with the audience represented by social partners representatives from national companies and NGOs as well as by health occupational doctors (overall about 100 participants).

Gülay Gedikli (DG OSH) andn Evrin Dağkaldıran Demiralp (DG Labour) introduced respectively the national legislation on MSDs and on remote work. Alenka Škerjanc (from Ljubljana University Medical Centre of Slovenia) shared with the audience the main aspects of the Slovenian legislation. Andre Klussmann, (from the University of Hamburg, Germany) explained the ergonomic risks and provided information on the MEGAPHYS Project. Christoph Mühlemeyer (from the German Institute of Occupational Health, Safety and Ergonomics) delivered a presentation on using Key Indicator Methods to assess the risks of physical workloads. Frank Krause (from the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) introduced key preventive measures to eliminate/control risks and to managing MSDs through early intervention. Sultan Pınar Çetintepe (from the Public Health Department of Turkish Gazi University) reported on the health surveillance for the prevention of MSDs in the workplace. Alenka Škerjanc introduced the remote working related MSDs and important recommendations for employers and employees.  Andre Klussmann presented a systematic approach to preventing MSDs. Finally, Zeynep Ünlüer (from the FNSS - Defence Systems Inc of Turkey) and Burak Eminoğlu (from Kastamonu Integrated Forestry Industry and Trade Inc. of Turkey) introduced national good practices on the topic.

On 29 September 2022, EU OSHA participated in the OSH conference on Risk Assessment in the Construction Sites organised by the State Labour Inspectorate of Albania. Following the opening and welcome by Mr Eljo Muçaj, Director General of the State Labour Inspectorate and Ms Irida Qosja, deputy Director General of the State Labour Inspectorate and the introduction by Mr Bernard Segarra from the European Union Delegation, EU OSHA introduced the ongoing IPA project activities (Michele Dinelli), underlining the efforts of the Albanian Focal Point (State Labour Inspectorate) in implementing the OSH actions; and introduced the contents of the EU OSH Directives, i.e. the general legal framework as well as the minimum safety and health requirements for temporary or mobile construction sites (Tim Tregenza). The intervention offered a practical approach tailored to the tasks and duties of labour inspectors including a specific reference to the methodology for risk assessments. The audience, mainly represented by labour inspectors, participated actively to the event and shared interesting professional experiences. EU OSHA concluded the event by sharing the most relevant best practice adopted in the European Union by labour inspectors assessing OSH in construction sites.

The conference was a great opportunity for EU OSHA to further enhance OSH knowledge in Albania and to reinforce the cooperation and OSH information and knowledge exchange with the national Focal Point representatives.

"Social dialogue is key to build a strong safety and health culture". This is the title of an article published on the April 2022 number of the OSH magazine "Tutela" from North Macedonia, highlighting the importance of occupational safety and health as well as the role of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work. The article makes reference to the "European Commission OSH Strategic Framework 2021-2027" that defines the key prioirties and actions to improve future health and safety of workers. The article provides also specific reference to EU OSHA projects and areas of intervention, as digitalisation, green jobs, stress and psychosocial risks, OSH barometer and the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022 "Lighten the Load".

A second article describes the efforts carried out by the Macedonian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy - EU OSHA focal point - in mirroring the "EU OSHA Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022" with the aim to raise among the public awareness and knowledge about risks of ill health and injury to workers. Through distribution of EU OSHA informative leaflets, flyers and posters translated into Macedonian as well as publication of relevant information to the Ministry's website, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy managed to transmit key messages for the prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) to a wide audience in the country, including central authorities, employers, workers and social partners.

IPA FOP representatives and EU OSHA IPA project manager

Following 2 years of traveling restrictions due to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, on 25 and 26 May 2022, IPA Focal Point representatives from Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey eventually were able to travel to Bilbao to attend at the EU OSHA Focal point meeting.

On 25 May 2022, following a plenary welcome, the FOP managers had the possibility to receive the latest OSH knowledge and participate to groups discussion on the "Circular Economy", "Psychosocial Risks", "Supporting Compliance", "ESENER", "the next HWC on Digitalisation", "OSH Barometer", "Healthcare" and "OSH Research".

On 26 May 2022, the Agency Interim Executive Director, Heads of Unit and project managers reported on the latest Agency OSH work programme, including the current HWC "Lighten the Load", the FAST scheme and on the 2022 work plan on "Biomonitoring tasks". The meeting continued with an update from the European Commission representative on the EU OSH strategy, with specific reference to the EU Strategic Framework 2021-2027, as well as from French, Czech and Swedish representatives on the EU Presidency programmes.

The Focal point meeting was a great opportunity for IPA represenetatives to exchange updates on the national OSH developments and to plan ahead the future IPA actions.

EU OSHA supported the Macedonian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the National Occupational Safety and Health Council and the ILO in enhancing awareness raising to mark the World OSH Day, on 28 April 2022. The main activities included an OSH conference, OSH award ceremonies and a tree planting commemorating the Worker Memorial Day (a tree was planted for every death at work).

At the OSH conference, the Minister of Labour underlined the importance of OSH and that the current Macedonian performance in OSH is not good enough because OSH challenges are not addressed with enough efforts. The round table that followed concluded that the Macedonian Legislation is well aligned with ILO Conventions on Construction (167), Mining (176), and Agriculture (184), but there is a lack in the legislative implementation, which is causing the poor OSH performance of North Macedonia.

EU OSHA contributed to enhance OSH knowledge on social dialogue.

The conference was followed by the awards ceremonies. The focus of the good practice awards was on enterprises where worker engagement had been part of the process. Following the enterprise awards, the awards for the young person writing competitions were given out.

Finally, the ceremony of tree plantation ended the event.

With the occasion to mark the World OSH Day of 28 April 2022, the Ministry of Labour of Serbia invited EU OSHA to enhance OSH awareness raising and knowledge sharing for OSH stakeholders. Following the conclusion of the OSH award conference (see information on the related blog article below), the EU OSHA IPA project manager introduced the topic of “Teleworking and avoiding too much sitting” to an audience of around 30 participants representing national enterprises, University professors and University students.

Following the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the implementation of health restrictions, teleworking became more frequent as many workers could continue to carry on work from home. Although home-based teleworking has potential advantages, it could also be detrimental to teleworkers' health and contribute to the development or exacerbation of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), as well as to pain, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular complaints, certain types of cancers, premature death. 

Currently, not all EUMS regulate in detail teleworking. There are pending issues as the obligation deriving from the Framework Directive (89/391/EC) to how best implement individual Risk Assessment for each teleworker.

Overall, as human bodies are designed for movement, the presentation provided to the audience important tips on how to tackle the main work-related MSD risk factors related to teleworking, such as workstation ergonomic and body postures, work environment factors, sedentary behaviour and physical (in)activity, work organisation factors and psychosocial risk factors.

The contents of the presentation are available on the here.

On 28 April 2022, the Ministry of Labour of Serbia organised an OSH ceremony to mark the World OSH Day and with the occasion awarded the best OSH civil society representatives.

The Minister of Labour, the director of the OSH directorate within the Ministry of Labour and ILO awarded respectively the best national companies implementing OSH practices (with a voucher for the purchase of ICT equipment), best OSH Universities' professors (with an OSH certificate) and highest ranked Universities' students in terms of OSH curricula (with a voucher to finance their studies).

A representative of EU OSHA was also invited to attend the ceremony.

 

In the framework of the European week for Occupational Safety and Health, the State Labour Inspectorate and Social Services (SLISS) of Albania organized several awareness raising activities involving employers and workers representatives as well as the Civil Society.

SLISS visited various workplaces and distributed HWC leaflets, flyers, posters and guides – translated to Albanian language with the support of EU OSHA and available on SLISS website – to inform employers and workers on the risks connected to Musculoskeletal Disorders and to raise awareness on the importance of prevention.

On 9 December 2021 , SLISS organised the closing conference of the HWC. Representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the ILO, employers and employees organisations, Trade Unions and Civil Society Organisations attended at the event.

The main topic of the conference was on health at the workplace and in particular on musculoskeletal disorders. Participants had the opportunity to discuss on responsibilities, problems and measures to be put in place to further enhance safety and health at work, as the final aim is to protect employees and as consequence the entire workplace and the business. At the end of the conference SLISS awarded the best Labour inspectors of 2021.