World Day for Health and Safety at Work: Public sector workers in the focus

Today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Initiated by the ILO in 2003 as an annual day to commemorate victims of occupational diseases and accidents, it has remained - unfortunately - topical ever since. CESI takes the occasion of this year's World Day to recall that occupational heath and safety for all remains a challenge to be met.

World Day for Health and Safety at Work: Public sector workers in the focus

The theme set by the ILO for this year’s Day is ‘Workplace stress: It’s time to lift the burden’.

CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “Stress-related health and safety issues are more widespread than commonly believed. Apart from the many workers which are still threatened by occupational accidents, there is an increasing number of people facing health problems because of stress at work. This can be caused by discrimination, violence, rising work intensities and increased job insecurities. According to EU-OSHA, 50% of workers in Europe feel they are considerably stressed at the workplace and 80% of managers say they are aware of the problem, but only 30% of companies take measures about it.

Mr Heeger added: “Health problems caused by stress at work are especially prevalent among white collar workers and public sector employees. Eurofound research showed that the public sector has recently been especially affected by restructuring and budget cuts and that this has had negative implications on stress levels among staff members. Eurofound also established that workers in the service sectors experience violence and harassment in the workplace more often than those from other sectors. Educators teaching students, nurses working with patients and public administration workers serving citizens are often particularly affected. This has a real impact on their health, well-being and productivity and may in severe cases lead to absenteeism or even require early retirement.”

As a trade union confederation representing public sector trade unions from across Europe, CESI has made occupational health and safety in public services a work priority. Having been a partner in EU-OSHA’s Healthy Workplaces Campaigns since 2012, CESI is this year running a major capacity building project on health and safety in public services in Europe. High level member seminars with expert participation will take place on ‘New work rhythm and their impacts on health and safety’ in June in Copenhagen and on ‘Responsible players in the implementation of the health and safety policy in the public sector in Europe’ in October in Madrid. Moreover, a study has been commissioned on best practices in health and safety management in public services in Europe.

Picture: ILO Poster ‘OSH World Day 2016’ © ILO 2016