On World Day for Safety and Health at Work (SafeDay), the European Alliance for Mental Health – Employment and Work (EUMH Alliance) highlighted that occupational safety and health should not be limited to physical health.
The EU framework directive on occupational safety and health (OSH) ensures the safety and health of workers in ever aspect of the job; however, this is only seen in the physical capacity. Mental health is equally as important and should be an integral part of OSH strategies in Europe.
On this year’s SafeDay, young workers were the focus, as they are at higher risks of accidents at work and are possibly exposed to poor working conditions, leading to the development of occupational illnesses while still young or later in life.
Jan Berndsen, president of Mental Health Europe, said: “Risk factors at work can impact both the physical and mental health of all workers, and it is time for businesses and organisations to address it in a more integrated way.”
In Europe today, the second most frequently reported work-related health problem is stress, which is a reality for many young workers.
Young workers may have psychosocial risk factors aggravated due to:
- Insufficient skills and training;
- Lack of awareness of their rights and their employer’s duties;
- Lack of confidence to speak out; and
- Lack of recognition and protection that older workers may benefit from.
Director of EuroHealthNet Caroline Costongs added: “Good mental health and wellbeing at work is fundamental to the quality of life of young people as well as positive economic outcomes for wider society. Prevention and early intervention measures are therefore vital and prove a smart social return on investment.”
A fairer and more social Europe
The European Union and its member states have recently committed to creating a fairer and more social Europe through the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights and in view of the European Commission’s reflection process on the future of the Social Dimension of Europe.
Laying the foundations for integrating mental health prevention and early intervention in OSH strategies, the two targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are:
- Target 3.4 – Promoting mental health and wellbeing; and
- Target 8.8 – Safe and secure working environments for all workers.