Strengthening health and safety at work across Europe

The European Parliament begins its work on the next European strategic framework for health and safety at work. This framework, which covers the period from 2021 to 2027, aims to establish an action plan to strengthen workers protection. The European Commission published its strategy proposal on 28th June 2021.

Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, shadow-rapporteur for the Renew Europe group on this text, welcomes the “zero death” ambition of the action plan proposed by the Commission. As negotiations are about to start in the European Parliament on the basis of a draft report by Marianne Vind (MEP from the Socialists & Democrats group), the MEP tabled amendments to support and strengthen the ambitions to better protect workers, notably:

  • Against cancer, by increasing the number of carcinogens whose use must be monitored, by strengthening the protection of workers who handle dangerous drugs used in particular in cancer treatments, by reinforcing measures against asbestos exposure through a global strategy as recommended in a recent report, by regulating hazardous practices such as nightshift work.
  • Against substances toxic to reproduction, by including them in the scope of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive.
  • Against psychosocial risks, focusing on mental health, which should be given the same importance as physical health in the workplace. For this reason, Véronique Trillet-Lenoir supports a strengthening of European legislation, in particular to establish a right to disconnect.
  • Against future health crises. Rapporteur for the European Parliament on a text aimed at giving Europe the capacity to better anticipate and manage health emergencies, the MEP wants national plans for responding to health crises in workplaces to be coordinated.
  • Against discrimination by strengthening the consideration of disability and by promoting reintegration after illness. 

Finally, the Renew Europe MEP would like to stress the importance of the links between public health and health at work. Beyond risk prevention, workplaces are a key sector for health promotion (by encouraging physical activity, healthy nutrition...).

Véronique Trillet-Lenoir: “It is by ensuring synergies with the Europe’s beating cancer plan, by learning the lessons of the covid crisis and by strengthening the links between public health and occupational health that we will be able to better fight against diseases, particularly chronic diseases. The European Union has a real role to play in ensuring that each worker, regardless of the size of their company, their status or their country of origin, can benefit from a high level of health protection.”