Occupational safety and health in a changing world of work

28 June 2021
Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

The European Commission has adopted the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how crucial occupational health and safety (OSH) is for protecting workers’ health, for the functioning of our society, and for the continuity of critical economic and social activities.

In this context, today the Commission is renewing its commitment to update occupational safety and health rules by adopting the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027. It sets out the key actions needed to improve workers’ health and safety over the coming years.

Three key objectives: change, prevention and preparedness

The strategic framework focuses on three key objectives for the coming years.

  1. Anticipating and managing change in the new world of work: To ensure safe and healthy workplaces during the digital, green and demographic transitions, the Commission will review the Workplaces Directive and the Display Screen Equipment Directive and update protective limits on asbestos and lead. It will prepare an EU-level initiative related to mental health at work that assesses emerging issues related to workers’ mental health and puts forward guidance for action.
  2. Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents: This strategic framework will promote a ‘vision zero’ approach to eliminate work-related deaths in the EU. The Commission will also update EU rules on hazardous chemicals to combat cancer, reproductive, and respiratory diseases.
  3. Increasing preparedness for possible future health threats: Drawing lessons from the current pandemic, the Commission will develop emergency procedures and guidance for the rapid deployment, implementation and monitoring of measures in potential future health crises, in close cooperation with public-health actors.

The actions in the strategic framework will be implemented through:

  • strong social dialogue
  • a strengthened evidence based policy-making
  • improved enforcement and monitoring of existing EU legislation
  • awareness-raising
  • mobilising funding to invest into occupational safety and health, including from EU funds like the Recovery and Resilience Facility and Cohesion policy funds


The update of the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work for 2021-2027 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the Commission Work Programme for 2021. The European Pillar of Social Rights underlines in its principle 10 that “workers have the right to a high level of protection of their health and safety at work”.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/social/

Download: EN