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Principle 10

Healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment and data protection

COVID-19 is the biggest health, economic and social challenge in the history of the European Union. The dimension of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is a fundamental part of the European strategy for limiting the spread of the virus and for maintaining economic activities. Numerous national measures have been implemented to fight the spread of COVID-19, also including those appertaining to workplaces and commuting to work.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, workers in many sectors (most of them female workers) have continued being physically present at the workplace, at the frontline, fighting the virus, such as in healthcare, cleaning industry and retail. In the frame of a second wave of contagion, Governments have let aside lockdowns measures and established a controlled retake of work and access to the workplace. The success of the EU exit strategy will largely depend on putting forward effective OSH-appropriate policies.

Occupational safety and health measures, through legislation or collective agreements, offers practical support for returning to the workplace. Trade union involvement in developing such measures is key. Appropriate preventive measures by employers will help to achieve a safe and healthy return to the workplace, following the moderation of the containment measures, and in particular of physical distancing measures and availability of personal protective equipment. They also contribute to eradicating the transmission of COVID-19.

Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market

  1. Swift adoption of the European Commission’s decision to include the Covid-19 in the list of biological agents in annex III of Directive 2000/54/EC on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to biological agents at work.
  2. Recognition of Covid-19 as occupational diseases in all sectors and to all workers regardless of their status.
  3. Monitor and reinforce transposition of Directives 2017/2398, 2019/130 and 2019/983 and enforcement of the current EU acquis.
  4. Develop and pursue our demands for zero work-related cancer, including the development of risk assessments and a revision of the “Asbestos” Directive.
  5. Continue the pursuit of EU Directives on psychosocial risks (PSR) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions

  1. Develop and pursue a strategy for zero tolerance of fatal accidents and the prevention of accidents at work. “Zero fatal accidents vision” in the forthcoming EU OSH strategy.
  2. Mapping role of employee representatives and assessing effectiveness of trade union rights to ensure actual enforcement of EU legislation on H&S in the workplace.
  3. Develop a uniform/single standard methodology and a common information system in the EU on: reporting occupational accidents, information on insurance systems for occupational accidents and diseases, and sharing of good practices.