Summary of the costs and benefits of Investments in occupational safety and health (OSH) (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Finnish Presidency)

EESC opinion: Summary of the costs and benefits of Investments in occupational safety and health (OSH) (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Finnish Presidency)

Key points

  • This opinion identifies new challenges in the area of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), such as job quality, equality, digitalisation and climate change.
  • The EESC stresses the important role played by the social partners and civil society organisations in developing and implementing sustainable OSH policies.
  • Investments in OSH contribute not only to enhanced wellbeing for workers and entrepreneurs but also to high returns, particularly in terms of cost reduction, greater productivity and sustainability of social security systems.
  • The EESC calls for more public and private investment in OSH and more financial incentives for companies investing in OSH. Public investments should be tailored to the needs of labour market actors, with a particular focus on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
  • The EESC calls for a holistic approach to investment in OSH. Special attention should be given to topics such as psychosocial risks, musculoskeletal disorders, circulatory diseases, cancer and mental health.
  • The EESC calls for more comprehensive studies to better understand the benefits of investment in OSH.  It also calls on Member States to improve transparency when sharing statistical information on work-related diseases and to promote the exchange of good practices.
  • Investments in OSH should be approached from the perspective of job quality. Standard working conditions provide the best prevention of psychosocial risks, thus leading to enhanced wellbeing and higher productivity.
  • The EESC is concerned that access to OSH and thus the benefits of OSH investment are not evenly distributed throughout the EU Member States. Initiatives should take into account dimensions such as gender, ethnicity, age and disability and link the OSH strategy to the debate on equality.
  • The process of digitalisation could bring many positive developments in the area of OSH but the EESC is concerned that some new types of work created by digitalisation could fall outside the scope of OSH regulations. All working people in the EU should be protected by OSH legislation.
  • The EESC underlines that OSH not only provides benefits for the EU economy but is also a fundamental labour right. Promoting OSH standards should also cover countries with which the EU has ratified trade agreements or other forms of cooperation, such as with countries of the Eastern Partnership or the Southern Neighbourhood.