On September 7th, 2023, EPSU met with the European Commission's Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) to discuss the pressing need for improved coordination of joint firefighting operations.
Health and Safety
The group discussed recent developments on worker protection in the EU and beyond, an interactive risk assessment tool in healthcare, and the revisions of directives on Carcinogens and Mutagens and Reprotoxins (CMRD 5) and asbestos.
European Parliament interest group calls for concrete steps to protect healthcare workers' mental health
On 11 July 2023 the European Parliament Intensive Care Interest Group (EPIC-IG), adopted a joint declaration on mental health calling on the European Commission and the Member States to take concrete steps to safeguard the mental health of workers in the healthcare sector.
The FOA trade union reports that data from the Danish Working Environment Authority shows a record number of offences in psychiatric homes in 2022 where staff were not adequately protected against violence. There were 92 cases, up from 73 in 2021, representing the highest figure since records began. FOA says this reflects a picture of everyday violence that is unacceptable for both staff and patients. Overall, there were 482 accidents at work due to violence in psychiatric institutions in 2022, a 37% increase since 2019. FOA is critical of governments that have promised action over the years
Heat waves and flooding are hitting Europe once more this summer and firefighters and emergency services are and will have to face the climate crisis in a context of chronical staff shortages and poor working conditions.
Multi-sectoral project on “the role of social partners in preventing third-party violence and harassment at work"
HOSPEEM, EPSU, CEMR, CESI as co-applicants and ETF, ETNO, ETUCE, EUPAE, UITP as associated organisations have been provided with financial support from the European Commission for a joint project in the field of social dialogue: “The role of social partners in preventing third-party violence and harassment at work” in the years 2021 and 2023 (VS/2021/0046).
Asbestos agreement a step forward for firefighters, emergency services and waste workers but more and better legislation is needed
EPSU welcomes the deal that lowers the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) to either 10,000 fibres/m3 including thin fibres or 2,000 fibres/m3 excluding thin fibres and includes a review clause for further lowering by 2028.
The FNV trade union and the RTL Nieuws broadcaster have published a survey covering nearly 2300 workers in nursing and home care that shows that work is becoming increasingly difficult and has to be done with fewer and fewer colleagues. The union argues that this poses a threat to the quality of care as well as the safety of employees and those they care for. The FNV says that as a result of government policy people are receiving care at home for longer and so by the time they move to a care home they often need more complex care. Waiting lists for care home places have risen from 8000 in 2008