Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Previous programme


Successor programme


Official Journal Reference

C 28 of 1988-02-03

Legislative Reference

88/C28/01 of 1987-12-21
To promote improved working conditions and an improved standard of living for workers, close cooperation between Member States in the social field, and the implementation by the Member States of measures, especially in the working environment, to improve the health and safety of workers.


In order to confirm its will to reinforce the social dimension of the completion of the internal market, the Commission decided, without awaiting the expiry of the second action programme in the field of safety, hygiene and health at work (1984-1988), to draw up a new action programme based on Articles 117 and 118 of the EEC Treaty and taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the provisions of the new Article 118a of the Single European Act.

Article 118a sets the objective of harmonizing conditions, especially in the working environment, for protecting the health and safety of workers and, to this end, stipulates that the Council, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, in cooperation with the European Parliament and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, shall adopt, by means of directives, minimum requirements for gradual implementation, having regard to the conditions and technical rules existing in each of the Member States.

In its Resolution of 21 December 1987 on safety, hygiene and health at work, the Council welcomed the Commission's communication on the new action programme (Official Journal No C 28 of 3.1.1988) and invited the Commission to draw up practical plans of work, preferably on an annual basis, in close cooperation with the Member States and after consulting the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, taking account of the following criteria in particular:
- The seriousness of the risks of accidents at work and/or occupational diseases;
- The number of workers exposed to risks;
- The possibilities for prevention.

The Council further invited the Commission to maintain close contacts with national experts, to cooperate with the social partners in the preparation of directives, to examine how the exchange of information and experience could be improved, particularly as regards the gathering and dissemination of data, and to examine the advisability of setting up Community machinery to study the repercussions at national level of Community measures. It stressed that the information, increased awareness and, if necessary, the training of employers and workers would play a fundamental role in the success of the measures recommended in the Commission's communication, and agreed to suggest that a European year in the field of health and safety at work be organized in 1992.

In the context of the first two programmes of action on safety and health at work the Commission drafted 10 directives on the protection of workers exposed to physical and chemical agents and on the prevention of major accident hazards related to chemicals. Seven of these had been accepted by the Council before the end of 1987.


Six subjects:

- Safety and ergonomics at work:
. Completion of the internal market - removal of technical barriers (continued cooperation in defining and harmonizing essential safety requirements at the design and construction stages of new equipment);
. Promotion of safety at work and application of ergonomic principles (preparation of directives and recommendations on the organization of safety at work, the selection and use of equipment and substances, safety signs, working practices, etc.);
. Promotion of safety in high-risk sectors (preparation of directives concerning work at sea, in agriculture and in the construction industry);

- Occupational health and hygiene:
. Establishment of a Community list of exposure limit values for 100 agents in order to guarantee that exposure of workers to physical factors, biological organisms and chemical substances is as low as reasonably achievable, and to enable the level of exposure to be monitored and measured;
. Extension of the European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances (EINECS);
. Studies to collect and evaluate toxicological and health data for individual agents and their absorption pathways and means of improving the collection of such data;
. Preparation of directives relating to occupational carcinogens and other carcinogenic agents, certain groups of compounds, hazardous biological agents and genetic engineering techniques, very dangerous agents or work activities, noise, harmonization of classification and labelling of dangerous preparations;
. Revision of the European Schedule of Industrial Diseases recommended by the Commission in 1962 and 1966;
. Preparation of a recommendation on the organization of occupational health services and the respective roles of the various health and safety specialists;

- Information:
. To provide information on all the substances for which directives are proposed in the field of health and safety;
. To ensure the application of research results and technical innovations aimed at improving working conditions by stepping up work in the evaluation of recent research, the establishment of evaluation programmes and the development of methods of disseminating the results, particularly for high-risk activities;
. To increase information, training and exchange of experience between senior labour inspectors responsible for national implementation of regulations derived from Community directives;

- Training:
. Establishment of new action programmes on adult training in firms and vocational training for women, including health and safety training at the workplace;
. With the assistance of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), development of courses for the training of safety instructors;
. Encouragement of harmonized training initiatives in the Member States for safety and health specialists;
. Provision of safety measures to protect the participants in special youth training schemes aimed particularly at the unemployed;
. Investigation of ways to provide a full course of training at university or higher-level technical education in the appropriate safety precautions required for future specialization of those who will be responsible for the safety of others;
. Further development of training modules for certain dangerous agricultural activities and of the Medical Advice Centres Network (MACNET) for sea fishing;
. Establishment of a network of collaboration centres involved in teaching the various disciplines and training workers and their representatives;

- Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs):
. Studies to show how existing regulations on health and safety are interpreted and applied in a sample of SMEs;
. Review of the special rules and exceptions which exist in national legislation regarding health, hygiene and safety at work, and assessment of the need for harmonization of legislation in this field;
. Studies of the effect of new patterns of working on safety, hygiene and health in SMEs;
. Improvement of information and advice to SMEs on safety, hygiene and health at work, and preparation of training modules on safety specifically for creators of SMEs;

- Social dialogue:
Development of the dialogue between employer and worker representatives, using the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work as an appropriate forum.


The Commission is responsible for implementing the programme on the basis of practical workplans drawn up in close cooperation with the Member States and after consulting the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work.
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