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30/11/2017

From protecting workers of all ages to…managing dangerous substances

As the Healthy Workplaces for All Ages campaign draws to a close, we take a first look at the next 2-year campaign which will be officially launched in April 2018. The Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances Campaign will build on the achievements and lessons learnt during the current campaign, as EU-OSHA continues to strive to ensure healthy workplaces for all.

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Managing healthy workplaces for all ages also means protecting workers from dangerous substances, which the latest ESENER-2 statistics show are more commonly found in the workplace than we might think. In the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector for example, 62% of enterprises reported a particularly high prevalence of dangerous substances. The figure was also over 50% in both the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Exposure to dangerous substances can affect quality of life and can even be fatal, so preventing such risks is crucial. No sector is completely free from dangerous substances, and as we’ve seen with the current campaign, assessing risks and promoting a prevention culture are key.

Both older and younger workers can be affected by dangerous substances. Older workers may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals or substances over a sustained period, particularly as many risks were previously unknown – for example the risks from carcinogens or dust from coal mining.

Younger workers may also be at increased risk when working with dangerous substances. Data indicate that the prevalence of allergic reactions (such as asthma) and work-related skin disorders are higher among young workers.

As we’ve seen in the current campaign, older workers can support young people in recognising and adopting safe working practices, by acting as mentors for example. This is particularly important in the context of dangerous substances, as younger people lack practical experience and, in general terms, are acknowledged to take greater risks than older people.

To prevent the risks of dangerous substances, the Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances campaign will aim to share good practices and make employers aware of the ways in which they can eliminate or substitute dangerous substances or processes with those that are not dangerous or that pose fewer risks.

Employers will also have access to the database created by EU-OSHA, containing more than 600 practical tools and resources relating to prevention/management of dangerous substances in the workplace. Other tools like a user-friendly e-tool, info sheets, infographics and a range of audio-visual material is also being produced.

Join our next campaign
As always, EU-OSHA encourages all interested organisations and individuals to join in the campaign. This can be by disseminating and publicising campaign materials, organising events such as conferences and workshops, using and promoting practical tools, or taking part in the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards, for example.

Your organisation can also be on the frontline by applying to become an official campaign partner, national campaign partner or media partner. Find out more by visiting the preview of the new campaign website from 4 December, when information on the next campaign will start to appear online. You can also keep up to date via the social media channels, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.