NIS meeting on Occupational Health and Safety

The PERC has organised a meeting of its member and partner organisations from the Newly Independent States on the issues of the occupational health and safety in Brussels, 14 and 15 of December.

The discussion concentrated upon the perspective of the International Labour Organisation, with the ILO specialist Wiking Hasberg as an expert on the standards and methods the ILO is using. The participants were introduced to the different levels of the OHS work: the level of the setting up of a national system, of prevention and monitoring, the level of enterprise and the mechanisms of the social dialog to analyse the risks, of accidents or professional deceases, and to develop means to minimise them. All the countries of the region prioritised OHS issues in their Decent work country programmes.

The second dimension of the meeting was linked with the standards the European Unions set up for the OHS and the respectives social dialog and prevention and monitoring mechanisms functioning in the community. Viktor Kempa of the European Trade Union Institute introduced the respective directive and the framework agreements existing in the EU, which are the product of negotiations between the European Trade Union Confederation and the organisations of the European employers. In terms of the NIS region, the launch of the Eastern Partnership of the EU and the general inclination of the EP countries to approximate its legislative frameworks with the EU Aquis Communitaire makes the respective EU standards in the field of occupational health and safety relevant for the trade union organisations to refer to.

The participants underlined several principal for the trade union movement issues in the discussion:

- the health and safety issues are in the core of union activities, it is a means for unionisation, for organising workers at workplaces, but also in "atypical" employment conditions;
- the unions should start concentrating on development of of the OHS system based on social dialog to prevent accidents and deceases, to improve working conditions, on a basis of risk analysis, rather than taking over the control and enforcement function of the respective state agencies;
- the unions need to encourage change of the working culture, to send a message to the workers, business and society, that good, prestigious and competitive workplace has to be safe and healthy;
- the unions need to education and train the workers on preventive measures and barganising on risk analysis;
- the need to make the standards of the ILO and principles of the EU, patterns of the OHS systems in the EU countries, reference points to the national systems of management of the OHS. The ratification and implementation of the ILO Conventions 155, 161 and 187 has to be prioritised while the cooperation with social partners on analysing the experiences and mechanisms existing in other countries can set up additional motivation for embracing "economy of health and safety" vision;
- the need to set up pilot initiatives within a sector or an enterprise to show the profitability and the value of the responsible OHS management based on social dialog.

It was agreed that the OHS will be prioritised by the PERC in 2010, with a round table to discuss the 4 main pillars:
- prevention as a philosophy of OHS;
- risk analysis;
- social dialog as an instrument of responsible OHS management;
- intstitutional set up of the policies and the respective legal base.

The round table might be further followed by a tripartite conference that could lead to a project partnerships on national level.


EU policies and directives on OHS
HESA priorities
Framework Directive 89/391/EEC