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Euro Health and Safety at Work Week 2016

10 October 2016

This year the European Health and Safety Week will take place Monday 24 - Sunday 30 October 2016. This year the theme is “Healthy Workplaces For All Ages”.

Euro Health and Safety Week 2016-2017 - Healthy Workplaces for All Ages

European Health and Safety Week takes place in October each year and is designed to raise awareness of health and safety at work issues and is organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health, who have published a website full of news, materials and activities. Each year, European Health and Safety Week seeks to promote good health and safety practice.

Campaign Key Factors

With increased life expectancy, no default retirement age, raising state pension age, plus poor pension provision; today and into the future, a higher proportion of workers will continue to remain in work as they age.

At the same time, apprenticeship schemes as an alternative to schooling may see more young people also entering the workplace.

Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of employees, whether younger, older, or in-between.

However, they do need to consider any particularly vulnerable groups and this may include older or younger workers, or women of child-bearing age for example. Working for longer, and the fact that children now grow up with computers, may also result in longer exposure to risks (whether muscular-skeletal or otherwise).

Both employers and regulators will need to consider this, both for the current and longer term implications.

As the working population ages, it is likely that there will be more workers with disabilities or long term health problems (and not all related to work) so measures such as rehabilitation and return to work will also be of increased importance.

The good news is that good workplace design and well managed health and safety benefit all of those in the workplace, young, old, and the in-between. And of course, with today’s young workers becoming tomorrow’s older workers, it really is the case that we need healthy workplaces for all ages.

That’s why the CWU is encouraging employers and branches to work together to ensure that workplaces really are healthy for all ages.

The European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health

The European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health (EU-OSHA) describe the week as: "Aimed at people in organisations, companies and workplaces of all sizes and sectors. Everybody involved in occupational safety and health matters are invited to take part, especially health and safety professional bodies and institutions, occupational insurance organisations, trade unions, employers, employers organisations, companies, managers, employees and Safety Representatives.

The 2016-2017 'Healthy Workplaces for All Ages' Workplaces Campaign is focusing on the promotion of sustainable work and healthy ageing throughout working life and effective management of workplace health and safety in the context of an ageing workforce. The Agency has set up a special Website full of News, Materials and activities.

Health and Safety Executive

The European Health and Safety Week is being coordinated in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE has set up a Website with lots of information and Guidance.

TUC

The TUC has produced guidance on the EU Health and Safety Week theme entitled “Health and Safety of Older Workers.

National Health and Safety Inspection Day

The Wednesday of European Health and Safety Week, 26 October 2016, is traditionally National Inspection Day when all Trade Union Safety Representatives are encouraged to carry out Inspections of  Workplaces where their members are employed. CWU Health and Safety Reps are undertaking targeted Inspections of Workplaces on National Inspection Day.

Union-appointed health and safety representatives have a legal right to inspect the workplace. Formal inspections of the workplace should be carried out periodically and additionally where there is higher risks, members’ complaints, incidents, near misses, change in conditions, new hazards or accidents have occurred etc. The frequency of health and safety inspections will depend on the nature of the work and risks in the workplace concerned and this is a judgement for the CWU Safety Representative to make and not the management! Inspections may be less often, for example, if the work environment is low risk, like in a predominantly administrative office. But if there are certain areas of a workplace or specific activities that are high risk or are changing rapidly, more frequent inspection may be justified, for example, high risk work or where construction projects are taking place.