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EU To Help Employers Who Look After Workers

The EU is planning to reward employers with tax deductions if they maintain good workplace safety records and lessen the number of accidents at work. In addition, they could also win more government contracts. The five-year strategy was mooted earlier in the year by MEP’s in Strasbourg and as far as the UK is concerned, Gordon Brown now has to report back to the European Parliament on how it will implement the policy.
On the other hand, those firms with poor safety records with be punished with tougher sanctions. The aim of the policy is to reduce workplace accidents by a quarter over five years. Recent figures from The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health showed that one person dies in the EU every three-and-a-half minutes in a workplace accident. The stringent sanctions that are planned are an ideal way to hold employers accountable for not being rigorous enough with health and safety regulations at work.
Whilst the new EU policy has good intentions, the regulatory bodies in charge of monitoring companies need to err on the side of caution in preventing companies twisting the figures to show themselves favourably. Some of the smaller/newer member states may not be as willing to follow the rules quite so rigidly. For instance, they might under-report injuries and ill health to augment their performance record. This might also apply to small and medium-sized enterprises as they are particularly exposed to the financial risks posed by absentee workers, accounting for 82 percent of all occupational injuries and 90 percent of all fatal accidents.
The changes will have an obvious benefit not just for employees but for employers who can reduce the chances of a personal injury suit being filed against them. In preparation for the UK’s report to the European Parliament, many organisations can already begin to implement changes to improve safety at work. For example, in training the employer should ensure that learning exercises simulate most reliable the real job activities. In this case trainers can include role-playing, this can stimulate employee participation.
Particular attention needs to be paid to disabled workers and vulnerable groups, such as migrant workers, young and ageing workers. Additionally, the accident rate among temporary agency workers was shown to be very high. Arguably, they lack training and awareness of either their rights or the risks involved in their work.
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