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In the context of the #EUHealthyWorkplaces campaign Ceemet organised a workshop dedicated to the digital solutions that exist and are applied by the companies it represents to keep workers safe and healthy.

MEP Marianne Vind, the Rapporteur of the draft report on the EU Strategic Framework on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), EU-OSHA expert Annick Starren and Ceemet’s Chair of the Health & Safety committee Franck Gambelli sat virtually together to exchange and discuss.

Broad agreement on risks and opportunities

Annick Starren put it bluntly when she said that “It’s industry’s job to be innovative, but it’s EU-OSHA’s job to prevent workers from having health issues.” However during the presentations it turned out that Ms Starren and Mr Gambelli agreed on many items ranging from the context of risk assessments to the pros and cons of home-based telework, the ‘nobleness’ of work and the societal importance of exoskeletons in times of an ageing society, skills shortages and a low percentage of women in manufacturing.

Human factor of remote and mobile work

The human factor was a central element in Ms Vind’s contribution. She stated that everybody who could work from home does so, while not everybody who works from home is aware of the risks that come with a wrong posture or screens. An educational/awareness raising effort needs to be done, acknowledging that some environments are not suited for remote work.

Separate from the hidden health risks, the difficulties to manage teams remotely needs to be addressed. To mark that point, Ms Vind spoke about “the underrated importance of the coffee machine” to gather and discuss with managers and colleagues.

Addressing health and safety issues at company level

Replying to a question of Ceemet Director General Delphine Rudelli, MEP Vind made a case for the involvement of social partners as they are closer to the level where problems will occur, but also have the answer to them.

In a concrete example she referred to the ‘right to disconnect’, where she believed all companies in the EU should put a policy into place while noting that two companies aren’t the same.

Tackling new forms of work

New forms of employment have altered the way work has been organised changing the concept of ‘workplace’ and, in relation to OSH, how to carry out risk assessments.

OSH and AI are topics that will remain high on the agenda for the years to come. Whereas Ms Vind had a clear position, it will all depend on the take of other EU institutions, in particular (future) initiatives from the European Commission.