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20/04/2012

Better together: the launch of our new campaign

Dr Christa Sedlatschek, Director of EU-OSHA

These are exciting times at the Agency: we’ve just launched our latest two-year, Europe-wide Healthy Workplaces Campaign. These campaigns are now the biggest occupational safety and health (OSH) campaigns in the world, and our new one, which we’re calling Working together for risk prevention, we hope will see record numbers of people getting involved.
At the same time, though, we’re very aware of how urgently we need a campaign like ours. For all that we’ve achieved in OSH, over five and a half thousand people are still dying every year in the EU as a result of workplace accidents, and thousands more from occupational diseases: the equivalent of one every three and a half minutes. And these deaths are only part of the story: there are also the thousands of European workers who have to live with the effects of accidents and poor health, caused by their work. We can work out the financial cost of all these accidents and work-related health problems, but that isn’t to take account of their full human cost.

Looking on the bright side, though, we know that most of these accidents and cases of ill-health are preventable. We can do something about them if we just follow the simple, well-known principles of risk prevention. And for a long time, European law has made it clear how important risk prevention is, and whose obligation it is to carry it out.
But we can’t just leave it to the law. We need to make employers and employees more aware of the responsibilities that they have, and we need people to realise that risk prevention works best when we do it together. Communicating these messages is what our new campaign is all about.
Of course, when you’re running a campaign like ours, it makes a huge difference if you have the big European institutions behind you. They’ve supported us in the past, and I’m delighted to say that they are again this time. When we launched the campaign, it was great to have László Andor, representing the European Commission, and Bo Smith, representing the Danish EU Council Presidency, there too.

Our new campaign isn’t just about working with the big European players, though: it will only really succeed if we can reach workplaces in the furthest corners of Europe, and get even the smallest of organisations involved in it. By working with our networks of partners, and by providing all kinds of free material, in 24 different languages, on our campaign website, I hope that we can show these organisations that good OSH is good for business, and that we can stop people being harmed in the workplace, if we work together for risk prevention.

www.healthy-workplaces.eu