14/02/2012

Facing up to the demographic challenge in Sweden

Tim Tregenza

The Director of EU-OSHA, Dr Christa Sedlaschek, exchanged the rain of Bilbao for the snow of Stockholm to attend a high-level seminar along with Hillevi Engström, Arbetsmarknadsminister (Minister for work) and Mikael Sjöberg, Director-General of the Arbetsmiljöverket (Swedish Work Environment Authority), to discuss how working life and the work environment has to change and adapt to the new challenges facing Europe's citizens. 

 The tripartite seminar was the last of a series examining the crucial issues facing the EU and Sweden. There is a need not only for people to work longer, to ensure that all citizens have access to the labour market, and are educated to be effective when they enter the labour market, but are also protected while at work to avoid them leaving employment. This means finding solutions to new problems as well as new solutions to old problems. 

Dr Sedlatschek said that too often occupational safety and health is seen as a narrow technical discipline when it should be a transversal subject accross all policy and business areas, and that without this integration, or mainstreaming, then it is difficult to reduce the human and financial costs of "non-OSH".

As well as attending the seminar, Christa Sedlatschek visited the Work Environment Authority headquarters to discuss the benefits of co-operation between Sweden and EU-OSHA and met with key network partners including Sweden's Governing Board Members and the Swedish focal point Barbro Köhler Krantz. The "Swedish model" of social dialogue in occupational safety and health is very strong and the activities of the Swedish Authority and its network can provide a strong vision of how health and safety at work contributes not only to worker protection but also effective businesses and a strong national economy.