More than 130 participants came together in Madrid to discuss and recommend best practices for efficiently implementing and enforcing OSH policies and regulatory frameworks in the public sector, particularly highlighting the role of managers, trade unions and safety reps.
During the event it emerged that the public sector is very often the first sector to be hit by restructuring and that this usually means more work to be done by less personnel – while expectations addressed to the public sector and its workers are permanently increasing. This leads to problems related to health and safety at work, it was said.
Participants and speakers also underlined that new technologies lead to a “dematerialisation of the office life”, which translates into a change of working time patterns, work organisation and work rhythms. It was highlighted that these new working rhythms -but also the use of the new mobile work devices- can have a profound impact on health and safety.
Different high-level interventions noted the influence of work-life balance, work organisation and of course working conditions not only on the safety and health of workers but also on the productivity of the workforce. The costs of implementing efficient OSH policies within companies or administrations, which always lead to concrete economic and financial returns, need to be considered as investments, it was said. Participants also underscored the role of trade unions and social partners as constructive partners, not as obstacles, in the definition and implementation of OSH measures.
Many speakers underlined the further need to raise awareness about the importance of OSH policies, improve the exchange of best practices, expand and specify legislative frameworks and, most important of all, ensure their proper enforcement.
In his conclusions, Klaus Heeger, CESI Secretary General, highlighted the need for CESI and its member organisations to inform each other and work together hand in hand in order to make sure that the best OSH legislation, models and practices are adopted and applied throughout Europe.
The findings of the symposium, along with those of the first conference of the year, will be used to finalise a study on best practices in OSH in the public sector in Europe. The conference programme, speaker presentations and all further material related to the Madrid symposium and this year’s project of the Europe Academy will be published here.
Picture: At the Europe Academy in Madrid. © CESI/MEDYA 2016