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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 14 September 2023, within the framework of the EU funded IPA project 2023-2025, EU-OSHA organised an on-line seminar addressed to IPA Focal point managers and OSH stakeholders, with the scope to present the recently published guide "Heat at Work - Guidance for Workplaces" and to introduce the main OSH risks.

Following the opening and welcome to the participants by the agency Executive Director, William Cockburn, Elke Schneider, senior policy advisor of the agency, presented the EU-OSHA publication and introduced the main OSH risk factors related to climate change and impacting on workers' health.

Derran William, senior OSH advisor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, shared his professional experience on climate change and work risks and provided a comparative analysis of the temperatures raising in the Western Balkans and Türkiye, on the related OSH risks and the suggested remedies.

Michail Kandarakis, Labour inspection and OSH specialist of the ILO project office Qatar, introduced the heat stress mitigation strategies adopted by ILO in Qatar, which include adoption of new legislation, as best practice to be considered in the new context of global warming, which is already reaching the whole Europe, and in the perspective of OSH risks prevention in workplaces.

Following the presentations, the participants had the opportunity to raise questions to the speakers and share their own experiences. Representatives from the Ministry of Labour of North Macedonia (EU-OSHA focal point) and the NGO MOSHA shared very interesting aspects of heat at work risks impacting on workers and proposed mitigating measures.

The IPA webinar was attended by 50 participants from the Western Balkans and Türkiye as well as from representatives of governments of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Within the framework of the IPA funded project, on 7 and 8 June 2023, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities hosted the 1st IPA Regional Conference organised by EU-OSHA, focusing on the topic of "Inspection of Psychosocial Risks".

The event had the aim to strengthen OSH knowledge on pshychosocial risk factors to provide guidance to inspection on quality risk assessment and on risk management measures; as well as to offer the opportunity to IPA beneficiaries to share national OSH best practice and difficulties in preveting risk of ill-health related to psychosocial risk factors.

On day 1, following EU-OSHA presentation on the main perceived psychosocial risk factors from European enterprises and on the existing EU legislation and international standards regarding psychosocial risks, Vladka Komel, Slovenian Focal point manager and Yiannis Koudounaris, from the department of Labour Inspection of Cyprus, shared national OSH practices and approaches to psychosocial risk prevention, and provided practical information on the application of the 2018 Senior Laobur Inspector Committee (SLIC) Guides.

On day 2, after the welcome by Nikolaj Petrišič, Director of the OSH department of the Ministry of Labour, Sergeja Brglez, OSHVET Ambassador of Slovenia, introduced the latest project research carried out by the Vocational Centre of Obala (SLO) to prevent psychosocial risks, including the development of the DigiStress application to monitor the time spent on electronic devices and reduce digital stress. Afterwards, IPA beneficiaries from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Türkiye presented their national OSH strategies and approaches regarding prevention of psychosocial risks in the workplace.

During the final discussion sessions of day 1 and day 2, IPA participants raised several questions concerning EU rules and EUMS practices, to which EU-OSHA, Slovenia and Cyprus could reply with concrete advice and examples.

On 28 April 2023, EU-OSHA participated at the event "Healthy working environment as a basic right to work", organised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Administration of Inspection Affairs of Montenegro and the ILO, in Podgorica with the aim to mark the World OSH Day.

Following introductory speeches by the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Admir Adrović, the UN resident coordinator to Montenegro, Mr Peter Lundberg and by a representative from the Ministry OSH directorate, Michele Dinelli shared information about the role of EU-OSHA, including the importance of the EU funded IPA project aiming at integrating Montenegro into the Agency’s network, and he presented the results of the latest Flash Eurobarometer survey on Psychosocial Risks (2022) to underline their negative impact on workers’ health. 

In the following two panels, composed respectively by the director of the Ministry of Labour OSH Directorate (Ms Danijela Šuković), the head of the Administration of Inspection Affairs (Mr Zlatko Popović - EU-OSHA FOP manager), a judge of the Basic Court (Ms Tamara Brnović) as well as representatives from the Employers Federation, from the Union of Free Trade Unions and from the Confederation of Trade Unions [panel 1], and by a representative of the Ministry of Labour (Ms Jovana Bošković), by OSH professionals and by OSH associations [panel 2], the discussion focused respectively on the basics of OSH in Montenegro and on the presentation of the actual situation from the point of view of OSH actors.

The conference was an important opportunity to exchange OSH knowledge, information, and experiences also from the view point of OSH professionals and social partners.

On 25 April 2023, the Istanbul Chamber of Industry hosted the closing event of the EU co-funded project "Capacity Development in the field of Occupational Health and Safety Through Structural Dialogue", which was an important event to raise awareness of OSH among SMEs in the Istanbul region, as well as to present the project final outputs and deliverables. Following the opening speeches of Mr Levent Kibar, deputy General Director of DG OSH of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Türkiye (the EU-OSHA FOP), and of Mr Celal Kaya member of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry's board, Michele Dinelli shared information about the role of the Agency, including the importance of the EU funded IPA project aiming at integrating Türkiye into the Agency’s network, and he provided a general overview of the EU legislation, underlining in particular the obligation for employers to carry out of Risk Assessments in the workplace, to prevent and reduce risks of ill-health for workers. The presentation was completed by a visualisation of comparative data taken from the OSH Barometer on the implementation of RAs in workplaces, visits by Labour Inspectors, as well as data regarding work-related chemical cancers deaths in the EU.

The event was concluded with the awarding of the four best companies implementing OSH practices in the "very hazardous risks" class.

On 22 December 2022, EU-OSHA signed the Contribution Agreement with the European Commission, providing the legal and financial basis to ensure the implementation of the IPA project with Western Balkans and Türkiye.

The action "Preparatory measures for the future participation of IPA III beneficiaries in the network of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work", covers a period of 36 months for the years 2023-2025 and focuses on a) Development and maintenance of a network of knowledge-sharing and exchange following EU-OSHA model used with EUMSs; and b) Awareness raising among the key OSH actors and development of technical capacities among OSH stakeholders.

The IPA action foresees 6 main project outputs:

1) FoPs in beneficiaries participating in the broader EU-OSHA networks;

2) OSH knowledge transfer between EU-OSHA, EUMSs, and beneficiaries;

3) Trainings and awareness raising events in beneficiaries;

4) IPA Regional Conferences;

5) Translated OSH information materials;

6) Tools for OSH management; and

7) Access to OSH surveys.

The IPA project manager took up his duties on 1 February 2023

Within the scope of the EC funded IPA Action 2020-2022, 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 Minister 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 harassment at work.

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

Within the scope of the EC funded IPA Action 2020-2022, on 27 October 2022, EU OSHA 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.

Within the scope of the EC funded IPA Action 2020-2022, the Directorate General for OSH of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Türkiye 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 Türkiye.

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 Türkiye) and Burak Eminoğlu (from Kastamonu Integrated Forestry Industry and Trade Inc. of Türkiye) introduced national good practices on the topic.

Within the scope of the EC funded IPA Action 2020-2022, 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 priorities and actions to improve future health and safety of workers. The article provides also specific reference to the EU-OSHA OSH knowledge 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, with the financial support of the EC funded IPA Action 2020-2022, 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.