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From dangerous substances to…work-related musculoskeletal disorders

As the Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign enters its final stages, we look at some of its highlights and long-term legacy. We also give you a sneak preview of our upcoming campaign on work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), another topic which affects millions of workers across Europe.


Managing dangerous substances doesn’t end here!

Since the launch of the campaign in April 2018, national focal points and their networks, official campaign partners and media partners have organised an enormous amount of activities and media actions at national level across Europe. All to raise awareness of how to manage dangerous substances and to help companies protect workers.

Some big campaign highlights included 2 highly successful editions of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work, the excitement of the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards and hundreds of informative and enlightening events culminating in the Healthy Workplaces Summit in Bilbao on 12-13 November.

But the campaign doesn’t stop here! The many tools and publications developed will ensure the sustainability of the campaign and continue to help companies manage dangerous substances for years to come. The database of practical tools and guidance will be fed with new entries and more translated and nationally tailored versions of the e-tool are on the way.

EU-OSHA’s relationship with EU and international organisations, and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in particular, has been a key factor in extending the campaign beyond the usual occupational safety and health (OSH) community and into other policy areas.

The campaign has been the most successful ever in terms of partner engagement and activities organised, which will serve as a benchmark for our next campaign. The lessons learned throughout the last 2 years will be taken forward and highly valuable features – such as the practical tools and case studies databases – will feature again, along with the sectoral approach and focus on vulnerable workers.

Get ready to lighten the load!

Launching in October 2020, the Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load campaign will focus on work-related MSDs. Despite significant efforts to prevent them, these disorders remain the most common work-related health problem in Europe – affecting approximately 60% of workers (Eurostat’s 2013 Labour Force Survey).

Our 2019 ESENER study also reveals some worrying trends. Some 65% of companies reported repetitive hand or arm movements in workers, up from 52% in 2014. Lifting or moving people or heavy loads was to 54% from 47% and prolonged sitting was shown to now be the third-most reported common risk factor in European enterprises, affecting 59%.

The upcoming campaign will focus on 7 priority areas, including how to prevent MSDs and how to establish an ergonomic and sustainable working environment. The importance of early intervention and staying physically active will also be highlighted.

The new website will be already up and running in April 2020, giving you access to a selection of campaign materials.

The campaign will see the return of our health and safety cartoon hero, Napo, with a brand-new toolkit containing advice on work-related MSDs and support material for vocational training or group discussions in companies. We’ll again work with EU and international partners like the Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee (SLIC) along with, among others, the hairdressing and education sectors – 2 professions that suffer significantly from MSD-related issues.

A big thank you!

The campaign could not have been such a success without all of you who got involved. We hope you’ll join us next year for another exciting campaign. Whether you disseminate and publicise campaign materials, organise events, use and promote practical tools, or take part in the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards, your involvement is invaluable to us.

Your organisation can also be on the frontline by applying to become an official campaign partner, national campaign partner or media partner. More information will be available on the campaign website in April next year. In the meantime, you can still consult the current campaign website and keep up to date via the campaign’s social media channels, FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.