The HEROS – Health Risk Outlooks by Social Partners – project, funded by the European Commission, aimed to analyse how trade unions and employers’ organisations at national and European level could contribute to occupational health and safety (OHS) in the hospital and social services sectors. Focusing on care services for the elderly, it covers 6 countries: Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The analysis shows that the main OHS challenges are an ageing workforce, staff shortages, low pay, long working hours, multiple jobs and underfunding. In terms of occupational hazards, the most common are work-related stress, workplace violence and harassment, and burnout. These challenges and risks are similar in all the countries covered by the study. However, they are exacerbated in countries where staff shortages, staff turnover and lack of adequate skills are severe.
Sharing the idea that patients and users of healthcare services are safe when workers are safe, HEROS proposes to coordinate OHS regulations for healthcare workers more effectively at European, national and organisational levels, and to promote the role of the social partners in the different national systems.