During the last fifty years a need to reduce the rate of occupational accidents and diseases, and to address the economic burden that arises from workplace accidents and diseases onto the tax payer through the externalization of costs, has forced the organization of the national infrastructure to support employers to fulfill their legal obligation in health and safety at work. This was to a large extent guided by the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. The ILO Occupational Safety and Health Convention, No 155 (13) and its Recommendation, No 164 (14), provide for the adoption of a national occupational safety and health policy and prescribe the actions needed at the national and at the individual company levels to promote occupational safety and health and to improve the working environment. The ILO OH Services Convention, No. 161 and its Recommendation, No. 171 (33), provide for the establishment of occupational health services, which will contribute to the implementation of the occupational safety and health policy and will perform their functions at the company level.
EU legislation on the introduction of measures to encourage improvement in the safety and health of workers at work defines the employer’s responsibilities for providing all of the necessary information concerning safety and health risks, and the protective and preventive measures required, obligation for consultation with and the participation of workers in health and safety, the employer’s responsibility for providing training and health surveillance. The framework Directive also states that the employer shall enlist competent external services or persons if appropriate services cannot be organized for lack of competent personnel within the company.
Therefore, the framework Directive greatly strengthens the concept of addressing the issue of health and safety at work by using multi-professional occupational health services, and in encouraging the active participation of employers and employees in improving working conditions and environments.