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.
"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.
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.
Within the aim of the IPA project, on 17 March 2022, EU OSHA organised the IV informal webinar on the topic of Long COVID with the purpose to keep sharing OSH knowledge and best practice with OSH representatives in the IPA region.
Long COVID is an acute infection that prevents workers from doing normal occupational activities. Workers and employers working together is key for a return to work that is most productive for all concerned.
Following a welcome and an opening speech by EU OSHA Interim Executive Director, Mr William Cockburn, Mr Ioannis Anyfantis (EU OSHA project manager) introduced the contents of the latest EU OSHA publications "COVID-19 infection and long COVID – guide for managers" and "COVID-19 infection and long COVID – guide for workers"; Dr Karen Michell (IOSH) provided information and best pratice on "Managing workers return to work with Long COVID"; and Dr Mehmet Erdem Alagüney (occupational disease specialist from Turkey) shared his experiences on "The effects of the Long COVID on occupational health". An open discussion followed the speakers' presentations where participants - representing EU Delegations, IPA and EU Member States Focal Points and IPA OSH organisations - had the opportunity to share their OSH experiences and perspectives from around the Region and could interact with the speakers.
The event was very succesful since it contributed to raise OSH awareness among the participants and provided a virtual platform for an interactive exchange and to enhance regional communication. The event was attended by more than 60 participants.
EU OSHA was invited to participate in the workshop "Impementation od Labour Law and Law on OSH, as a final benchmark for Chapter 19 - Social Policy and Employment in the Context of European integration" hosted by the Minstry of Economic Development of Montenegro, which took place on 29 and 30 November 2021.
The aim of the workshop was to discuss about the current labour and OSH laws implementation and saw the participation of the main EU acquis chapter 19 stakeholders, like representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development, Montenegrin Union of Employers, Trade Unions, Free Trade Unions, the Superior Court of Montenegro, Ministry of Health, OSH companies, the Institute for Development and Research for OSH, the Administration for Inspection Control, the OSH Association and the Administration for Health Insurance.
In consideration of the health restrictions, EU OSHA intervened virtually and introduced the aim of the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022 "Ligthen the Load".
An IPA Focal point meeting, addressed for the first time only to representatives from IPA beneficiaries, took place in Belgrade, Serbia, on 20 October 2021.
The meeting was chaired by EU OSHA and was hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of Serbia.
EU OSHA presented the contents of the EU OSH Strategic Framework 2021-2027, which is also making a reference to further support to be addressed to the Western Balkans; the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury; and the contents of one of the latest EU OSHA publications concerning a study on possible 4 macro-scenarios regarding the Circular Economy and OSH.
A representative from a Serbian Ergonomic Agency introduced the ergonomics strategy for the prevention of musculoskeletal diseases.
IPA representatives from North Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia provided updates on the current OSH initiatives and strategies at national level.
Representatives from the other IPA beneficiaries could not attend due to the traveling restrictions deriving from the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
On 19 October 2021, EU OSHA was invited to attend at the Healthy Workplaces Campaign conference hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs of Serbia. The conference was chaired by the Minister of Labour and had the purpose of raising awareness on health and safety at work, also through awarding the best labour inspectors for their OSH work.
Key OSH key actors, such as the acting directors of the OSH Directorate and of the Labour Inspectorate as well as several labour inspectors took part to the event.
EU OSHA presented the aim and contents of the Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022 "Lighten the Load" and shared the latest knowledge on Musculoskeletal Disorders related to sedentary work, focusing in particular on the health risks deriving from prolonged sitting, on strategies to decrease the risks as well as on concrete remedies and tips to reduce sitting and related MSD risks.
The conference ended with the OSH Good Practice 2021 award ceremony, were two local companies were awarded for having implemented the best OSH practice in Serbia.