Remarks by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis on the new occupational safety and health strategy in a changing world of work

(Credit: European Union)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

“Check against delivery”

Good afternoon everyone.

The pandemic has taught us many lessons. Since it struck Europe early last year, we have done all we can to protect people’s lives and jobs.

But we need to think hard also about their health and safety at the workplace too.

Not only to protect workers themselves, but also to keep critical services running and societies functioning smoothly.

The world of work is changing rapidly. Workplaces are changing with it.

For many, the concept of a traditional workplace is disappearing fast. While that brings opportunities, it also brings challenges and risks – health, psychological and social.

Due to the pandemic, almost 40% of workers turned to working remotely, full time.

These trends will continue as we move towards a greener and more digital economy.

Platform workers are another example, along with people in other non-standard types of work. And we cannot forget mobile and cross-border workers, or seasonal workers from inside  or outside the EU.

They can sometimes find themselves exposed to unsafe living and working s conditions.

That is why it is time to make sure that the EU’s rules governing occupational safety and health are fit for the future, as our societies and economies move with the times. These rules protect the health and safety of almost 170 million workers  across the EU.

But they need updating.

The last decades have brought significant progress in this area.

However, there are still too many accidents, many of them fatal.

And more than 200,000 workers in EU each year die from work-related illnesses.

Apart from the human suffering this causes, work-related accidents and illnesses cost the EU economy over 3.3% of GDP each year – around €476 billion.

So it is a priority to maintain and also improve protection standards for workers: in an economy that works for people.

The right to a healthy and safe workplace is also reflected in the European Pillar of Social Rights.

That is why, today, we are proposing the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work, 2021-2027. It sets out our new objectives for a post-pandemic world of work, to:

  • anticipate and manage change in the new world of work brought about by the green, digital and demographic transitions;
  • improve the prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses;
  • better prepare for any potential future health crises.

Taking these objectives in turn:

For change: we want to modernise our rules to take the digitalisation of economy into account, propose protective limit values on asbestos and lead, and present an EU initiative on mental health at work.

For prevention: we will promote a ‘vision zero’ approach to eliminate work-related deaths, also with amendments to carcinogens and mutagens legislation to combat cancer.

For preparedness: we will develop emergency procedures for occupational safety and health, along with guidelines for possible future health threats. We will also update the Commission recommendation on occupational diseases to include COVID-19 by next year.

I would like to stress that the EU is working together with likeminded partners and we will continue to promote effective standards in the area around the world.

Labour markets are increasingly global.

We plan to engage more with our partner countries, regional and international organisations, including the G7 Vison Zero Fund and the G20 Safer Workplaces Agreement.

In addition, we will promote the broader issue of ‘decent work’ in future EU trade agreements – following the recent example of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

We will work with Member States and social partners to address change in the new world of work to make sure that the new measures are properly applied on the ground.

That way, all the EU’s workers can reap the benefits from these new opportunities – in decent jobs, with more protection and less vulnerability.

Thank you. I now pass the floor to Nicolas. 

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

Click and Download: your app is ready to help you save lives

WHO reports ‘very strong progress’ in battling DR Congo Ebola outbreak

New Eurobarometer survey shows: The majority of Europeans think the EU should propose additional measures to address air quality problems

Public Health equality in a trench

10 ways cities are tackling the global affordable housing crisis

Germany tries to save Europe from war between Ukraine and Russia

Long-term EU budget: It is not possible to do more with less, say MEPs

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

Drought in southern Africa: EU releases over €22 million in humanitarian aid

These tech start-ups are changing what it means to farm

Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

Celebrating the Customs Union: the world’s largest trading bloc turns 50

How to outsmart bias when you’re recruiting

Primary Healthcare vs Specialization Careers, how to promote PHC to the Young Health Workforce?

Haitian Foreign Minister calls for development reboot to close ‘striking gap’ between promises and action on ending poverty

This is how drones and other ‘tradetech’ are transforming international trade

European Democracy Action Plan: making EU democracies stronger

Why we need a blockchain bill of rights

Prospect of a nuclear war ‘higher than it has been in generations’, warns UN

Antitrust: Commission imposes binding obligations on Gazprom to enable free flow of gas at competitive prices in Central and Eastern European gas markets

How 3 MENA business leaders are building resilient companies post-COVID-19

Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

COVID vaccination campaign. What are the challenges?

Greece bailout ends but with no substantial effect on citizens’ life

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

Statement by Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, on the announcement to postpone the COP26

EU and US take decisive step to end aircraft dispute

How COVID-19 is making companies act for the long term

We need tech solutions that value human interaction more than ever

Grievous violations continue against Myanmar civilians, Human Rights Council hears

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

Guterres lauds UN peacekeeping, highlights need to bridge ‘critical’ gaps

How cities are failing to be inclusive – and what they can do about it

We must stop turning a blind eye to the world’s health crises

London wants to treat violent crime like a disease

Cybersecurity Act: build trust in digital technologies

MasterCard @ MWC14: Innovation in times of regulatory uncertainty

The digital revolution will transform the steel industry

‘Protracted crisis’ in Venezuela leads to ‘alarming escalation of tensions’: UN political chief

From battlefields to boardrooms: 3 steps to building high-morale teams

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

African cooperation on peace ‘increasingly strong’, Security Council told

European Green Deal: Commission presents actions to boost organic production

State aid: Commission approves €790 million Croatian guarantee scheme for companies with export activities affected by coronavirus outbreak

How COVID-19 might help us win the fight against climate change

Civilians suffering due to sanctions must be spared ‘collective punishment’ urges UN rights expert

5 urgent actions in the fightback against ransomware

The UN came of age with the nuclear bomb. Time for it to step up to the AI era

How can we prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? 5 lessons from innovative schools around the world

How digital identity can improve lives in a post-COVID-19 world

How we measure stakeholder capitalism will determine our recovery

Commission disburses €14.1 billion under SURE to 12 Member States

How distorted is the EU labour market by this crisis?

UN study projects $32 billion loss for UK post no-deal Brexit

One for all? Are physicians prepared to deliver care to the LGBTQIA+ community?

Trade surplus up production down in Eurozone

More Stings?


  1. Our manifesto for the new European Commission. We are Retailers ask for a safe​, trustworthy digital environment for consumers .Our economic recovery must be inclusive, fair and job-rich.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s