Safer and Healthier Work for All

Modernisation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health Legislation and Policy
Over the last 25 years, the EU has been a front-runner in setting high standards of worker protection against health and safety risks at work on its territory, and has promoted high levels of protection also in third countries. Occupational safety and health policy is contributing to the objective of improving the safety and health of workers in the EU. According to the most recent available data the incidence rate of deaths in accidents at work dropped by almost 1/4 as compared with the situation in 2008, however, with different trends in individual Member States. The percentage of EU workers reporting at least one health problem caused or made worse by work decreased by nearly 10%.
The EU legislative framework has played a pivotal role in shaping national and company level occupational safety and health strategies. The detailed ex-post evaluation of the EU acquis, checking their relevance as well as efficiency, effectiveness, coherence and EU added value, carried out by the Commission confirms that the framework meets its ambition to adequately protect workers. This REFIT evaluation comprised the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC and 23 related Directives.
It concluded that the overall structure of the EU occupational safety and health acquis, consisting of a goal-oriented Framework Directive complemented by specific Directives, is generally effective and fit-for-purpose. However, it pointed to specific provisions of individual Directives that have become outdated or obsolete, and highlighted the need to find effective ways to address new risks. The way in which Member States have transposed the EU occupational safety and health Directives varies considerably across Member States. Compliance costs therefore vary and cannot be easily dissociated from more detailed national requirements. However, overall, the evaluation clearly concluded that compliance with the occupational safety and health Directives is more challenging for SMEs than large establishments, while at the same time the major and fatal injury rates are higher for SMEs. Specific support measures are therefore necessary to reach SMEs and help them increase their compliance in an efficient and effective way.


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