01 Dec FACT-FINDING SEMINAR ADDRESSING PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS AND RISKS AT WORK
On 23 November 2020, EFEE took part in a Fact-Finding Seminar on Addressing Psycho-social aspects and risks at work, organized by the cross-sectoral social partners. The seminar aimed to build upon the previous work done by the social partners with regards to occupational safety and health, including the two autonomous framework agreements on stress at the workplace (2004) and on violence and harassment at work (2007), as well as to refine a common understanding to support workers and employers to identify recent developments and main issues in relation with psycho-social risks at work. Special attention was given to impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on psycho-social health risks at the workplace, for instance in terms of the extended use of telework and the blurring boundaries of working time and space.
The seminar was opened by Stefan Olsson, Director at the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) at European Commission, and William Cockburn, Head of Prevention and Research Unit at EU-OSHA. The former emphasized the important work that the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 has already accomplished and stated that the next Strategic Framework, which is to be expected in 2021 will continue on this aim of improving the implementation of existing health and safety rules. The latter highlighted the important role that awareness raising plays in OSH and lauded the attending sectors for the work that has already been done in the past decade. Nevertheless, since psycho-social risks are on the rise in most sectors, not in the least in the education sector, there still remains a lot of work to be done.
The subsequent examples from different sectors and member states clearly stressed that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to psycho-social risks at work, which is why this issue is so difficult to address. Moreover, psycho-social risks still need a lot of awareness raising since they are oftentimes overlooked in the national and European legislation frameworks surrounding OSH. Furthermore, the current pandemic has substantially exacerbated the situation for most workers as well as brought to light some new risks. While the absence of risks in any workplace is impossible, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide in the presence of an adequate and comprehensive risk assessment structure. Lastly, the important work of OiRA tools in providing sectoral risk assessment tools to different sectors was lauded as an important step in recognizing psycho-social risks ass important factors for workers’ wellbeing.
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