European Week for Safety and Health at Work: Let’s Work Together to Manage Stress!

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The 2015 European Week for Safety and Health at Work, a highlight of the ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress Campaign’, starts on 19 October. Events will be held across Europe to mark the occasion and put stress and psychosocial risks in the workplace in the spotlight. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and its network of partners aim to get Europe talking about how we can tackle these risks together.

Sexual harrassment at work - infographic

Difficult customers, patients or pupils are the most prevalent risk factor in 57% of European enterprises.

EU-OSHA’s network of national focal points is hosting numerous events in more than 30 countries to highlight the campaign messages. Topics include stress and psychosocial risk in relation to working hours, a new protocol dealing with bullying and harassment, evaluation of psychosocial risks in small companies or the relationship between occupational safety and health (OSH) institutions, the educational sector and companies in the management of psychosocial risks. Conferences presenting activities implemented during the two years of the campaign are scheduled in Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Spain and Sweden.

EU-OSHA’s official campaign partners are also planning activities: The European Work Hazards Network (EWHN), for example, will hold a closing event in Italy to discuss experiences and best practices from Italy and how to prevent, assess and tackle the risk at European level; German OSH services provider B-A-D will host a conference on the risk assessment of mental workloads, while the Federation of European Ergonomics Societies (FEES) will dedicate its European Month of Ergonomics to the ‘ergonomics for managing work-related stress.’ The focus will be on the workplace, in particular workplace design, risk assessments and interventions, and interpersonal matters like bullying or harassment.

This year’s European Week continues with the theme – Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress – and also highlights two particular issues: sexual harassment and third party violence, for which two new infographics have been produced. The first explains what constitutes sexual harassment, the number of workers affected and what measures companies can implement to deal with the issue. The second describes third party violence – the most prevalent psychosocial risk for European enterprises – who it affects most, occupations at risk and its effects on workers.

Dr Christa Sedlatschek, Director of EU-OSHA explains that: ‘Although violence can potentially affect any workplace and any worker, certain work characteristics increase the risks. Working face-to-face with clients, customers or others outside the organisation increases the risk of violent incidents, also known as ‘third party violence’. ESENER-2 shows that having to deal with difficult customers, patients, pupils were identified as the most prevalent risk factor of all in European enterprises (57.4%).’

Other results from the ESENER-2 survey show that 76% of establishments in the EU-28 carry out regular risk assessments, and of those 90% consider them a useful way of managing safety and health. High levels of employee participation (whether formal or informal) was shown to be a strong indicator of good quality of work, including the quality of OSH management in general and psychosocial risk management in particular.

Shortly after the European Week, on 3 and 4 November 2015 the Healthy Workplaces Summit 2015 will take place in Bilbao, Spain. Leading European experts and decision makers will discuss the final results of the two-year campaign, strategies and programmes for managing stress and psychosocial risk at work as well as the future of occupational safety and health in Europe. The event will be held in memory of Dr Eusebio Rial González, former Head of Prevention and Research Unit at EU-OSHA with the announcement of the Eusebio Rial González Innovation and Practice Award in Occupational Health Psychology.

See the campaign events
ESENER-2 survey
Infographic – sexual harassment
Infographic – third party violence
Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

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Birgit Müller
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
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European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)
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