Today is the last day of this years’ European Week of Health and Safety at Work.

On this day, Ceemet publishes its Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) position paper commenting on the European Commission’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at work for 2021-2027.

The employers of the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based (MET) industries agree, in principle, with the aim of the new Strategic Framework. But some issues cause concern.

Implementing OSH legislation

Although the current, and recently revised, EU legislative framework is fit for purpose, the temptation exists to propose new initiatives. For the MET sector the current legislative framework is well considered and continuously implemented by its companies. However, a better implementation in the Member States and a more consistent legislation at EU level  would facilitate operations in the Single Market.

Equally, guaranteeing that OSH legislation is applied rigorously across the EU, is crucial to protect workers and creates a level playing field for companies.

Discussing & applying OSH standards

When legislation is up for an update or new legislation is on the table, the automatism should be to ask what the most appropriate level would be to discuss these. Handling the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality will lead to evidence based decisions which will ultimately better protect employees.

Setting these, improved, OSH standards are one thing but they need to be applied. This is a shared responsibility between employer and the workers.

Looking at specific policies

  • Simplify legislation

In the field of chemicals, a simplification of the overlapping structures that exist through REACH and OSH legislation would be welcomed.

  • Strike the right balance

With the green and digital transitions, new and innovative technologies and solutions will emerge. Legislators must find the right balance between regulation and innovation.

Going beyond the Strategic Framework

An evaluation whether or not the objectives have been achieved and whether instruments, measures and indicators were appropriate and effective should be conducted. Such an evaluation would help define future strategic objectives, targets, actions and measures.

Apart from carrying out an analysis, an increased involvement of sectoral social partners in drafting  the Strategic Framework would contribute to the effectiveness of the framework. Employers and trade unions bring in their expertise and their insight on the practical impact that planned legislation is likely to have on the day-to-day operations of companies.