TUC demands new laws on stress and RSI at work

The TUC is calling on the European Parliament to introduce
new laws on stress and repetitive strain injury in the workplace.

The Union wants to see a set of Europe-wide targets for the
reduction of workplace injuries, illnesses and sickness absence.

Union officials are also scathing about the 80 per cent
reduction in specialist staff at the EU, that has left just 24 people running
the health and safety system for the whole of Europe.

TUC general secretary John Monks said new laws would help
staff and employers adjust to the demands of the new economy and avoid the loss
of skilled staff to workplace injury or illness:

"If Europe is going to better compete in the global
economy, we can’t burn out our workers, or ignore the risks that come with new
technology. We need a sustainable workforce in sustainable working environments
doing sustainable jobs. But the European Commission can’t do all that on a
shoestring – health and safety is an investment that pays off in workers’
health and better business," he said.

The TUC has issued briefing notes for MEPs, listing its top
ten priorities:

• setting a clear timetable for proposed negotiations
between employers and unions on stress so that if agreement is not in prospect,
legal protections can be introduced

• updating legislation to tackle RSI, extending the existing
manual handling Directive to cover the repetitive handling of smaller loads

• European Union-wide targets for the reduction of fatal and
serious workplace injuries, occupational illness and the resulting sickness
absence with supporting targets in sectors and regions

• a fully costed action plan for implementing the EU health
and safety strategy over the next four years with firm timetables so that
progress can be measured

• at least doubling the number of staff working on health
and safety

• ensuring that EU funds are not given to employers who do
not have good health and safety arrangements, using public procurement measures

• continuing the current pilot funding programme on health
and safety in small firms

• funds for employers and unions to twin with their opposite
numbers in EU applicant countries, to ensure targeted support for the
development of tripartite systems of health and safety

• action to ensure gender sensitive approaches to health and
safety are developed, and legal protections for older workers (like those for
young workers in the Young Workers Directive)

• creating a properly funded ‘new risks observatory’ at the
European Agency for Safety and Health in Bilbao to look at how to prevent new
risks harming workers


By Ross Wigham

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