10 May OSH4EDU – FINAL CONFERENCE
On 6 May 2021, the Final Conference of the joint EFEE-ETUCE project on “OSH4Edu: European sectoral social partners in education enhancing risk assessment in education institutions” took place online. In total over 50 participants from both EFEE and ETUCE attended the Final Conference, which aimed at disseminating the first results of the project as well as providing the participants with ample opportunity to contribute to the ESSDE Joint Statement on Promoting the Implementation of OiRA tools in Education Institutions.
The Final Conference was opened with an introduction to the upcoming “EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work (2021-2027)” by Mr Matthias Fritz, Socio-economic analyst EMPL.B.3, DG Employment, European Commission. Mr Fritz underlined the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and how it has put into stark contrast the cruciality of OSH policies. Given the crucial role that social partners play in implementing and safeguarding OSH regulations at the national level, Mr Fritz furthermore stressed that the involvement of social partners in these issues would be more prominently highlighted in the upcoming Strategic Framework. Subsequently, Ms Michaela Seifert, Prevention and Research Unit at EU-OSHA, provided participants with an updated overview of EU-OSHA’s OiRA tools as well as introduced the participants to the “EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2020-2022”, which focuses on Muscoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). Following these presentations, Ulrike Bollmann from ENETOSH presented the many opportunities and roadblocks to creating a safe and healthy learning and working environment at all levels of education.
Hereafter, a panel discussion on the role of social partners in the use and improvement of OiRA tools, with a specific focus on lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic was organized. Education employers’ organization and trade union representatives from Ireland, Portugal and Czech Republic provided participants with their insights and best practices following the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the way risk assessments are performed in education institutions. It was concluded that while not many education institutions were prepared for the Covid-19 crisis, it has put OSH back in the center of social dialogue, which is something many social partners approve of.
Following the lunch break, participants were introduced to the “Draft Joint Statement of European Social Partners in Education to promote the implementation of online interactive risk assessment tools in education institutions” by Susan Flocken, European Director at ETUCE, and Isaline Ossieur, Policy Officer at EFEE. Participants then received the opportunity to share their views on this statement and the future of risk assessments in general in smaller break-out groups. The interventions during the smaller break-out rooms will now feed directly into the Draft Joint Statement, which will be put up for adoption during the next ESSDE Plenary meeting at the end of 2021.