The employment landscape has gone through noticeable changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working arrangements have changed in that, instead of a return to the office, many employees now work from home. There’s also the anticipated move towards a more digital economy.
In light of the changes to the way we work, the European Commission is planning to update worker safety rules to protect the health of almost 170 million EU workers over the 2021-2027 period.
COVID-19 pandemic work patterns
The pandemic has had a broad impact on employees and people’s lives.
For instance, nearly 40% of employees have made a full-time move to remote work since it began. These same employees also saw their social contacts dwindle and their use of IT equipment and online communications software increase.
Speaking about the impact the pandemic has had on the workplace, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: "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."
Workplace health & safety measures under review
The Commission will review rules on workplace safety on a range of issues, including:
- Emergency exits
- Safe use of workstations and screens
As part of the recovery, the Commission also foresees a strong green economy. They aim to introduce limits on exposure to insulator asbestos. They will also seek to limit the use of lead and cobalt in renewable energy technology and battery production.
Mental health on the agenda
When monitoring mental health problems before the pandemic, the Commission estimated that roughly 84 million people suffered mental health problems in the EU. They also found that stress contributes to around half of all lost working days.
As a result, the Commission has committed to providing recommendations on mental health at work before the end of 2022.
Health & safety investment matters
The Commission found that work-related accidents and illnesses cost the EU economy over 3.3% of GPD per year.
The Commission also estimates that for every euro invested in occupational health & safety, the return for businesses is as much as 100% as staff take less sick leave.
To ensure your health & safety policies and procedures adhere to the Work Safely Protocol, speak with one of our expert health & safety consultants today.
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