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New European campaign on safe maintenence launched

To mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) launched its new Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2010-2011, promoting safe maintenance across Europe. It is backed by the EU Presidencies of Spain and Belgium in 2010 and of Hungary and Poland in 2011, by the European Parliament and the European Commission, and by the European Social Partners.

Maintenance is essential to prevent workplace risks, but it is itself a high risk activity for the workers that carry it out. In some European countries as much as 20% of all workplace accidents are connected with maintenance and in a number of sectors over half of all accidents are maintenance-related. It is also estimated that in Europe 10-15% of fatal accidents at work can be attributed to maintenance operations. It is vital, therefore, that maintenance is carried out properly, taking into consideration workers’ safety and health.

Dr Jukka Takala, Director of EU-OSHA (left) and the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr László Andor (right)

Launching the Campaign at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, Dr Jukka Takala, Director of EU-OSHA, alongside the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr László Andor, outlined the campaign’s objectives and the basic rules for safe maintenance as a key contribution to healthy workplaces.

Mr Andor giving his backing to the Campaign, said: “Maintenance is a daily part of every workplace and sector. The 20% of accidents currently linked to maintenance is too high and shows it’s an area where we have to raise awareness and step up our efforts”. He added: “Our overall strategy is to cut all work-related accidents in the EU by 25% over the coming years. This campaign will help to raise awareness about maintenance-related risks, saving lives across Europe and bringing us closer to our overall goal for safer and healthier workplaces”.

Over the two years of the campaign, many events and activities will be organised within the Member States. One of the principal activities to support the campaign is the European Good Practice Awards that is organised specifically to identify examples of good practice related to safe maintenance. Other campaign highlights include two European Weeks for Safety and Health at Work, in October 2010 and October 2011. The European Weeks, which have been running since 2000, are annual events that promote improved safety and health in the workplace.