New demands on OHS: EU report

Sunday, 12 February, 2006

Current trends in society and work organisation are creating new risks and putting new demands on occupational safety and health research, a recent report published by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work says.

An overview of what we are in for has just been published by the European Agency for Safety and Heath at Work in a working paper for the European Commission entitled Priorities for occupational safety and health research in the EU-25.

"The nature and organisation of work are changing, becoming more client- and knowledge-driven," explains Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. "The workforce has also been changing; it is ageing, less male-dominated, more precarious and more difficult to monitor, as it has spread out into small companies. As a consequence, health issues have become more complex and we need to find new ways to approach occupational safety and health research and prevention."

For instance, workers finding it difficult to achieve a balance between working and non-working time has been a growing concern. The problem is compounded by the increasing proportion of households with 'dual careers' and dependent older relatives. It is also affected by what has been termed 'atypical work': temporary agency work, part-time work or jobs with 'unsocial hours'. All this can easily contribute to work-related stress and also act as a barrier to the recruitment or retention of certain groups into the workforce.

The report also mentions the necessity to conduct more research into preventing psychological violence at work, ie, all types of harassment or mobbing.

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