Reducing the numbers of occupational victims requires an alternative prevention policy

Brussels, Eshuis, W. (2015). Brussels: ETUI.

The European legislation on occupational health and safety has failed to achieve any substantial reduction in the incidence of work-related accidents and disease. The author of this Policy Brief argues that the regulatory approach is effective only in cases where employers actually care about the quality of working life, pointing out that many employers – estimated at 22% in Belgium and the Netherlands – turn a blind eye to the health and safety problems facing their workforces or reject available options for improvement, resulting in a situation where the risks remain confined within the four walls of the workplace.

The author accordingly proposes a set of measures that would compel the most refractory employers to take such problems seriously. His proposals include the following: participation by victims in the enquiries conducted following negative impacts on workers’ health and the introduction of arrangements for compensation; public access to insurance companies’ data on work-related sickness and accidents; intervention by external experts within companies; improved resources for labour inspectorates. The policy brief does not mention the situation of posted workers.