Press Release from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
So far the discussion about safety and health and employability has been limited to general statements about the importance of reducing the exclusion of people from active work life due to accidents and work related ill-health on the one hand and the need for improved re-integration on the other. The total number of workdays lost in the EU due to poor working conditions has been estimated to be about 600 million every year.
A new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work highlights for the first time how safety and health measures more specifically can contribute to increasing the employability of European workers. The report brings together 26 case studies from 13 Member States that emphasise a pro-active approach through “prevention”, “rehabilitation”, “reintegration” and “health promotion”:
- preventing occupation-related injury and illness through major programmes that deal with health and safety hazards, such as the Finnish national programme to maintain the work ability of older workers which has actually lead to an increase in the labour market participation of elderly workers.
- rehabilitation of ill workers by providing services or adapting workplaces to help the ill or injured worker to recover from their complaints and reintegrate into the workplace. This has been the case with the Danish Novo Nordisk example which has shown a rehabilitation rate of 55% for workers suffering from long-term illness.
- reintegration initiatives for longer term disabled people as is the case with the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind (ONCE) which employs over 45,000 workers with visual impairments and other disabilities visually impaired workers in various activities, of which over 15,000 have been assisted in securing employment in the open market by its business Corporation
- Workplace Health Promotion initiatives which use the workplace as a setting to undertake activities aimed at improving the general health of the workforce. This is the case with a workplace promotion initiative in the German bakeries sector.
ONCE (the Spanish National Organisation for the Blind – http://www.once.es) provides one of the “rehabilitation” examples in the report and reports that 23% of its members are victims of work-related accidents. According to the President of its Business Corporation, Jos