The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) recently published the initial results of its sixth European survey of working conditions.
It reveals that 23% of workers consider that their work represents a risk for their health. This figure has been declining constantly since 2000. But, according to the ETUI, this apparently positive trend should be interpreted cautiously, because perceptions vary greatly depending on the gender, country and age of the people surveyed. For example, men admit more easily than women that their work has negative effects on their health (27% versus 19%).
Since 2000 there has been a decline in exposure to noise and vibrations, tiring or painful positions, repetitive movements, and the carrying or moving of heavy loads. However, exposure to chemical substances has increased by 2% (17% versus 15%), as has contact with potentially infectious materials. The number of workers having to raise or move people has also increased slightly.
There has also been a slight increase in psychosocial risks. 16% of workers declared that they had been victims of “hostile social behaviour”, i.e. they had been exposed to verbal violence, threatening or humiliating behaviour, physical violence, and moral or sexual harassment.
The great majority of European workers (90%) consider they are well informed regarding the risks they have to face in the workplace. Moreover, 72% consider that they can count on the help and support of their colleagues. But only 59% think they can count on the support of their senior management.
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The sixth European survey of working conditions
In cooperation with Ipsos, Eurofound questioned more than 43,000 workers in 35 European countries: the 28 EU Member States, five accession countries (Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey), as well as Switzerland and Norway. The face-to-face interviews were carried out in the homes of the respondents and covered a variety of questions on their impressions regarding working conditions.