EESC opinion: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work

EESC opinion: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work

Key points

The EESC welcomes the goal to cut accidents at work by 25%; a comparable target for reducing occupational illnesses should also be set. A specific action plan, with measurable objectives and credible and comparative reporting mechanisms, should be introduced, checked and adjusted.

The rights of employees must be respected and effectively applied, bearing in mind new forms of employment and the need to ensure that legislation and therefore inspection covers all workers, irrespective of the type of work or the form of employment: Failure to do so would amount to a violation of fundamental rights.

The EESC supports appropriate implementation of Community legislation, in particular through the development and implementation of national strategies.

In order to implement and monitor the strategy, specific minimum standards concerning the number of labour inspectors are needed.

Member States should promote social dialogue at Community, national, local and employer levels, as an essential instrument in ensuring health and safety at work for individual employees.

Cooperation between Member States must be stepped up. In particular, requisite provision must also be made in EU budgetary policy to secure the systematic and effective implementation of the Community strategy on health and safety at work.

SMEs, which employ over 80% of workers, are at an immense disadvantage compared to multinational companies in terms of financial resources and possibilities. Such companies are highly vulnerable and need special support, on condition that they undertake to respect social dialogue and comply with social agreements on occupational health and safety.

New and rapidly changing forms of work organisation and new technologies bring new risks, which require a response at Community level.

EU institutions must encourage Member States to ratify ILO conventions.