The broad strategy covers coordinating policies in health and safety in the workplace, evaluating how well labour inspectorates perform, looking closer at the impact of an ageing workforce and reinforcing coordination with international organisations such as the ILO, WHO and the OECD.
The framework is also looking to simplifying legislation to reduce administrative burdens. This immediately rings some alarm bells for worker’s rights. Commenting on this aspect of the strategy, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger noted, “At first sight, nobody can be against the general notion of reducing administrative burdens; however it has become another way of saying deregulation. From past experience, deregulation in many cases leads to reduced levels of protection for employees, not better protection. We need to watch developments very carefully in this regard to hold the Commission to account on its promises.”
The lack of specific actions in the strategy has also been met with some criticism by Brussels stakeholders.
If there is disagreement in Brussels as to how effective such a framework can be, there is widespread agreement on the need for action to be taken. Commissioner Andor recognised that “every year more than 3 million workers are victims of a serious accident at work in the EU and 400 die in workplace accidents”.
The framework will be reviewed in two years’ time (2016) to assess how well the strategy has been implemented. Only if the results are more concrete than the proposals can the Commission’s hopes of becoming an international leader in health and safety in the workplace field be fulfilled.
The Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 can be read in full here.