- Policy - working enviroment
EU focus on ergonomics
Survey of the working environment
In 1996 the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin, conducted a survey of the working environment. The survey involved interviews with a representative part of the working population consisting of about 1000 employees in each of the member countries of the EU, i.e. an approximate total of 15,800 persons were interviewed. 30% of the respondents named back pains as their most frequent cause for complaint. This is a problem that ought to be taken seriously.
Work assessment according to EU Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989
In order to gain an overview of the working environment in the company, it is a good idea to conduct a workplace assessment. Within the EU this is a requirement, stipulated in EU Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989. A workplace assessment is conducted through co-operation between the employer, employees and safety organisation of the company and is a good starting point for laying down priorities and a plan of action for improving the working environment.
In particular, the purpose of a workplace assessment is to prevent or reduce physical stress at work, and to create a well-arranged and flexible workplace with a rational organisation of the work.
The legislation concerning working environment within the EU lays down that manual handling involving safety and health risks must be avoided. If this is not possible, effective measures must be adopted to eliminate the risks. Suitable equipment must be used when possible or appropriate, and always when the manual handling involves health risks.