EU-OSHA: No Cutting Back on Safety, Health

Director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) Jukka Takala warned that European organizations cannot afford to forget workplace safety in the current economic downturn.

Takala argued in the agency’s 2008 annual report that companies should think carefully before cutting back on their investment in occupational safety and health in the face of global recession.

“There is a risk that companies will consider cutting back on their investment in occupational safety and health (OSH). The challenge to us, as the Agency, is to convince them that there is no point in making short-term gains at the cost of long-term problems. All of our work shows that the more healthy workplaces are, the more productive they also tend to be. In turbulent times, we cannot allow this message to be diluted,” Takala wrote.

“What we say to companies during the economic downturn, therefore, is – keep up your investment in health and safety,” he continued. “And try to hold on to your key people in these difficult times. Don’t kick out everyone who is over 55 – that’s a very risky strategy. You need experience if you want to have a competitive advantage in the long run.

Report Highlights

The annual report highlighted EU-OSHA’s key achievements in 2008, which include the agency’s Healthy Workplaces campaign on risk assessment. The campaign has so far involved more than 7,000 participants in seminars, training events and workshops, with some 2 million print publications being distributed. The campaign is a good example of how EU-OSHA works with its partners to reach workers in Europe.

With the launch of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER), EU-OSHA has begun to identify what is currently being done, both in private- and public sector workplaces, to deal with psychosocial and other risks.

Another focus in 2008 were emerging chemical risks with a new report finalized, the last in a series of flagship reports which have also examined physical, psychosocial and biological risks. Together, they establish the state of knowledge in these fast-changing areas, and highlight particular subjects that need to be the focus of research or policy-making.

Finally, the agency’s strategy for 2009-2013, which was agreed in 2008, sets out how EU-OSHA will work in the years ahead to reduce the high cost, both human and economic, of occupational accidents and work-related diseases. The strategy outlines a clear role for EU-OSHA in coordinating the many different efforts that take place in occupational health and safety around Europe, helping to identify common problems and sharing information and good practice.

EU-OSHA’s mission is to make Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work, by collecting and disseminating information on occupational safety and health, as well as examples of good practice.

Visit http://osha.europa.eu/en for more information or download the full report.

TAGS: Safety
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