Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Previous programme


Programme funding

EUR 66 million
To reduce to a minimum both work accidents and occupational diseases.


Since 1978, the Commission has carried out three action programmes on safety and health at work, all of which were the subject of Council Resolutions. Former Community programmes in the area of health and safety and work have been predominantly legislative in nature, focusing on the need to provide a minimum set of standards in health and safety in the context of the completion of the internal market.

Given that a substantial body of European Union health and safety legislation is already in place, the focus of this new multiannual programme has been broadened to provide a much greater emphasis on information, so as to ensure these rules are correctly and efficiently communicated. In more general terms, the content of the new programme is to take account of the following principles:

- The need to ensure that measures taken in the field of health and safety at work are geared to supporting the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular SMEs;
- Promotion of improved working conditions as regards safety, hygiene and health at work, especially in SMEs;
- Implementation, consolidation, rationalization and extension of relevant Community legislation whenever necessary;
- Steps to supplement legislation aimed at promoting a healthy working environment, with particular reference to SMEs;
- Integration of the programme into other activities of the European Union and reinforcement of the dialogue with Member States and the social partners;
- Coordination and integration of activities in conjunction with international organizations working in the same field;
- Facilitating workers' access to information in the areas concerned.

In order to improve the scientific knowledge necessary to increase the safety and health protection of workers and to contribute to higher standards in the future, close links are to be fostered with relevant research programmes under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme, in particular in the areas of "Biomedicine and Health", "Standards, Measurements and Testing", "Biotechnology" and "Telematics Applications".

In the area of biomedicine, research is to be conducted in the following areas:

- Identification and control of risk factors at the workplace with an emphasis on the short and long-term effects of biological and chemical hazards;
- Health education and preventive measures to reduce accidents at work and exposure to risk factors;
- The interaction between risk factors at the workplace and in the environment, fundamental research on allergic diseases and the aetiology of occupational and environmental-related diseases.

In the field of standards, measurements and testing, the objective of research is to improve the ability to measure the appropriateness of measurement methods, particularly in the following areas:

- Improvement of measurement methods and the development of reference materials for monitoring the exposure of workers to physical, chemical or biological agents at the workplace and/or for testing the efficiency of implemented protective measures;
- Development of reference methods and materials for the identification of allergies arising from exposure to either naturally occurring or man-made factors;
- The development of personal monitors with warning capability, particularly for use in the workplace;

- The development of methods to detect genetically modified organisms.

In the area of telematics applications, close attention is to be paid to the output of projects of relevance to health and safety in the workplace, in particular those in the areas of cooperation between administrations, education and training, healthcare and information engineering.


Four areas:

- Guidance notes and core information material to help the correct application of Community legislation;

- Information, education and training:
. Development of health and safety awareness;
. Information on Commission policies and other related Community activities;
. Organization, on a regular basis, of relevant activities/events, such as a European week of health and safety at work, colloquia on health and safety education and training, competitions on training materials, and festivals on audiovisual products on safety, hygiene and health at work;

- To investigate key problem areas, taking into account existing information and research results and/or to promote, where appropriate, new investigations:
Activities are to focus on the potential resurgence of occupational diseases as a result of the rapid pace of technological change;

- SAFE (Safety Action For Europe):
To improve safety, hygiene and health at work, in particular in SMEs. Support is to be provided for projects of a practical nature intended to demonstrate the:
. Promotion of improvements in the work place specifically directed at safety, hygiene and health at work;
. Improvements in the organization of work practice which influences attitudes towards health and safety at work, in order to reduce work accidents and occupational diseases.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the activities contained in the programme, assisted by a committee of an advisory nature composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The programme consists of two distinct parts:

- Guidance notes and core information material to assist the correct application of Community legislation; improving information, education and training; and investigating key problem areas;

- The SAFE (Safety Action For Europe) programme.

An indicative budget of ECU 66 million has been proposed for the implementation of the programme, of which ECU 41.5 million has been earmarked for the SAFE programme. The remainder is to be dispersed among the actions following under the above-mentioned first part of the programme.

The Commission provides financial support for shared-cost projects involving other sources in the private/public sector. Community funding does not exceed 70% of the cost of the proposed project except in the case of networks and work ordered and of direct use to the Commission, where the subsidy may amount to 100%. In general, the level of the Community's financial participation for shared-cost projects within the 70% threshold depends on the scope of the measures to be financed and the extent to which the proposed project reflects the action programme of the Agency for Health and Safety at Work.

The budget allocated to the programme also covers the subsidy granted to the European Trade Union Technical Bureau, which provides technical assistance for the drafting of opinions delivered through the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work.

In implementing the programme, the Commission is responsible for encouraging cooperation with third countries and with relevant United Nations bodies and other organizations and agencies involved in the field. EFTA countries party to the Agreement establishing the European Economic Area and other countries with whom the Community has concluded Association Agreements may be involved with the activities to be implemented under the programme.

The Commission is responsible for conducting a mid-term evaluation of the actions undertaken and an overall report upon completion of the programme. Both the mid-term and final evaluation reports are to be submitted to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee.
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