Emergency motion on health and safety at work

Emergency motion on health and safety at work 

Adopted at the ETUC 13th Congress on 2 October 2015

To work in a healthy and safe environment is a fundamental human right. Work should not put the lives or health of workers at risk.

The ETUC Congress condemns the attempts to put into question the existing framework of health and safety protection and to classify much needed health and safety standards as needless red tape or "the most burdensome if EU legislative acts".

The Congress is gravely concerned that this tactic has prevented any progress. Improvements recommended by social partners have stalled. Several legislative proposals, including those supported by both employers and workers (e.g. proposals on carcinogens and mutagenic substances, the hairdressers’ agreement) have been blocked.  

The Congress therefore welcomes the Opinion of the tripartite Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work delivered on 24th September 2015 and adopted unanimously by representatives of governments, employers and workers organisations in 28 member states.

We endorse the Committee finding that "there is no need for a full recast of the occupational health and safety directives system. The current structure with a framework directive and individual directives should be maintained”.

The Congress calls on the EU Commission to respect the Opinion of the Advisory Committee and 

·         stop the endless reviews, revisions and discussions on reducing health and safety legislation under the guise of “better regulation”;

·         define an ambitious EU strategy and actions to improve the deteriorating working conditions in Europe by tackling the rise in psychosocial risks, the large number of musculoskeletal disorders and recognise invisible occupational diseases. Specific attention should be given to precarious work for both men and women and to the reinforcement of the role of safety reps.

·         ensure that health and safety legislation is applied to all workers regardless of the size of the company

·         take proper regulatory measures to eliminate work-related cancers in Europe and should collaborate with international Institutions to eradicate them globally. Priority should be given to tightening European binding limit values for fifty of the most carcinogenic and mutagenic substances used in the workplace, and to harmonizing of all other existing national standards at the highest European level.