EU to update workplace safety rules

Importance will be given to ensuring mental health of about 170 million workers in the EU

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The European Commission is considering to update its worker safety rules for workplaces, now that the pandemic has changed the very way of working. Everything, right from emergency exits to ventilation, workstations, use of screens and exposure to stuff such as asbestos, lead and cobalt, used for manufacture of batteries and in renewable energy, will be reviewed.

The new guidelines for the 2021-2027 period will take into account the mental health of the workers at the workplace too. The recommendations pertaining to mental health and well-being are expected to be finalised by December, 2022 and will benefit about 170 million workers in the EU. Interestingly, mental health issues plagued about 84 million people in the EU, with stress being the major culprit, resulting in significant amount of sick leaves or absence from work.

The updated rules will take into account the adoption of remote working or work from home, as well as the anticipated digital recovery. As per the Commission, with traditional ways of working giving way to remote working, many social, psychological and health issues have cropped up that need to be addressed. The lack of physical interaction and socialising are to be blamed for the same, among other things such as increased usage of screen, gadgets and information technology.

The economy of the EU reportedly loses more than 3.3 per cent of the gross domestic product due to accidents at work and work-related health issues. Therefore, investment in occupational safety and health will benefit employers in a big way, as it will result in lesser absenteeism and leaves.

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