Press releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 12/11/2019 - 14:00

Healthy Workplaces Summit promotes best practice for managing dangerous substances at work

Today the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) welcomes European occupational safety and health (OSH) stakeholders to Bilbao, Spain, for the 2019 Healthy Workplaces Summit. After another successful 2-year campaign, this summit provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on lessons learned and share best practice for managing dangerous substances in the workplace.

There has been an unprecedented level of engagement with the 2018-2019 campaign. More than 350 activities have been organised by EU-OSHA’s focal points in over 30 countries involving over 17,000 participants.

Leading OSH experts and decision makers from across Europe join forces with EU institutions and EU-OSHA’s national focal points, official campaign partners, media partners and social partners to reflect on the achievements of and lessons learned from the 2018-19 campaign Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances. In doing so, they share knowledge and best practice and explore future strategies for the effective prevention and sustainable management of dangerous substances.

Many European workers are exposed to dangerous substances on a daily basis, and the use of hazardous chemicals is increasing. Our latest 2019 ESENER-3 survey confirms that 38 % of European enterprises report potentially dangerous chemical or biological substances in their workplaces.[1] EU-OSHA’s 2018-19 campaign has been very successful in raising awareness of the risks posed to workers and in promoting a culture of prevention.

Christa Sedlatschek, EU-OSHA’s Executive Director, highlights the Agency’s determination to create a risk prevention culture and how this has been reflected in the success of the campaign:

There has been an unprecedented level of engagement with the 2018-2019 campaign. More than 350 activities have been organised by EU-OSHA’s focal points in over 30 countries involving over 17,000 participants. The Healthy Workplaces Summit marks the end of this successful campaign, which will be carried further by providing practical tools and guidance to our audiences and by our ongoing involvement in the Roadmap on Carcinogens action plan.’

Parallel workshops — organised to encourage discussion among delegates — focus on:

  • prevention measures for minimising exposure to carcinogens at work
  • good practices and interventions
  • the sustainable management and substitution of dangerous substances in production processes
  • the future challenges for effective prevention 

A highlight of the summit is the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards ceremony, which celebrates enterprises’ innovative contributions to improving OSH and promoting best practice. This year, 10 organisations are awarded and commended for their proactive and sustainable approaches to protecting workers from hazardous substances.

In the keynote speech, Greet Schoeters from the European Environment Agency, gives her perspective on how we can use the lessons of the past to inform and improve future practice.

The final session of the event looks at the preparations that are currently under way for the 2020-22 campaign — Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load. This campaign — the first to run on a 3-year cycle — aims to raise awareness of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and promote the management and prevention of this widespread and very relevant issue.

The summit is being streamed live online, and all parallel sessions will be recorded and made available on EU-OSHA’s website.


[1] First findings — Third European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-3), EU-OSHA, 2019, to be published later in 2019

Notes to editor: 

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) contributes to making Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work. The Agency researches, develops, and distributes reliable, balanced, and impartial safety and health information and organises pan-European awareness raising campaigns. Set up by the European Union in 1994 and based in Bilbao, Spain, the Agency brings together representatives from the European Commission, Member State governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, as well as leading experts in each of the EU Member States and beyond.

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The Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances 2018-19 campaign raises awareness of dangerous substances in workplaces and provides information on how to prevent the risks associated with them. The campaign has a particular focus on workers with specific needs and targets groups that are particularly sensitive to the risks, such as migrant workers and young people. Like previous Healthy Workplaces Campaigns, it is coordinated at national level by EU-OSHA’s focal points and supported by official campaign and media partners.

The campaign was launched in April 2018. Key dates in the campaign calendar include the European Weeks for Safety and Health at Work (October 2018 and 2019) and the Healthy Workplaces Film Award ceremonies (November 2018 and 2019). The campaign will end with the Healthy Workplaces Summit (November 2019), when all those who have contributed to the campaign will come together with EU-OSHA to take stock of the campaign’s achievements and the lessons learnt.