The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crucial occupational health and safety (OSH) is for protecting workers' health, for the functioning of our society, and for the continuity of critical economic and social activities. In this context, as of 28 June 2021 the European Commission is renewing its commitment to update occupational safety and health rules by adopting the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027. It sets out the key actions needed to improve workers' health and safety over the coming years.
This new strategy focuses on three cross-cutting objectives, namely managing change brought by green, digital and demographic transitions as well as changes to the traditional work environment, improving prevention of accidents and illnesses, and increasing preparedness for any potential future crises. To ensure safe and healthy workplaces during the digital, green and demographic transitions, the European Commission will review the Workplaces Directive and the Display Screen Equipment Directive, and update protective limits on asbestos and lead. As for prevention of work-related diseases and accidents, the strategic framework will promote a ‘vision zero’ approach to eliminate work-related deaths in the EU. The European Commission will also update EU rules on hazardous chemicals to combat cancer, reproductive, and respiratory diseases. Finally, in order to improve preparedness for possible future health threats, after drawing lessons from the current pandemic, the European Commission will develop emergency procedures and guidance for the rapid deployment, implementation and monitoring of measures in potential future health crises, in close cooperation with public-health actors.
The European Commission also calls on Member States to update their national occupational safety and health strategies to ensure that the new measures reach the workplace. Beyond EU borders, the European Commission will also continue playing a leading role in promoting high occupational safety and health standards globally.