The European Commission’s plan regarding occupational safety and health (OSH), presented on 10 January 2017, defines three priority measures for the coming two years:
1. Step up the efforts to prevent work-related cancers by means of legislative proposals and awareness raising tools or guides
The Commission presented a new proposal for a revision of the 2004/37/EC directive on exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic agents in the workplace. The text introduces new occupational exposure limit values (OELVs). And it is already planned, in early 2018, to add other OELVs for formaldehyde, beryllium, cadmium, chromium VI compounds and nickel compounds. Moreover, an occupational exposure database will be placed online at the address hazchematwork.eu. This database will list the existing OELVs in EU countries and will provide information regarding the health effects of certain exposures.
2. Help enterprises, in particular micro-enterprises and SMEs, comply with national occupational safety and health “rules”
Ex-post evaluations of European directives in the area of OSH have been able to identify a certain number of growing concerns for which enterprises would need greater support. These issues are stress, MSDs and ageing of the labour force for which it is necessary to raise employers’ awareness and provide them with other guides and tools.
Moreover, on 10 January the European Commission published a practical guide intended for employers designed to make risk assessment easier and more efficient. Other sector guides will be published later.
3. Cooperate with the Member States and social partners to eliminate or update obsolete “rules” and refocus efforts to ensure more effective and broader protection and application in the field
Within a period of two years the Commission will carry out a programme to withdraw or update the obsolete measures present in the following directives:
- Directive 89/654 concerning the minimum health and safety requirements for workplaces;
- Directive 90/270 on visual display units;
- Directive 92/58 on safety and/or health signs (the possibility of allowing for EN ISO 7010 in the annexes to the directive will be examined);
- Directive 2000/54 on biological agents (update of Annex 3);
- Directive 92/29 on fishing vessels;
- Directive 89/656 on the use of PPE.
The European Commission also calls on the Member States to simplify their legislation insofar as possible to reduce the administrative burden on businesses.
Reacting to the action plan, in particular the simplification of the legislation, the UEAPME published a press release to applaud the various initiatives of the European Commission, while the ETUC regrets that more OELVs have not been added to the Annex to the 2004/37/EC directive.