Last week the representatives of the European Social Partners signed the first framework agreement on the avoidance of injuries caused by needle sticks and other sharp objects in the hospital and health sector. The framework agreement will be implemented by a Directive, which will apply to all 27 Member States. A nice success for the European Social Partners.
Health and safety in the workplace concerns all
After months of negotiations between the recognized European Social Partners in the hospital and health sector - HOSPEEM (European hospital and healthcare employers' association) and EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) - the result was a clear commitment to the priority importance of health and safety for hospital and healthcare workers. Both employer and employee representatives agree that cooperation is vital for the protection of safety and health in order to protect employees against injuries and infections caused by sharp and pointed medical instruments (including needles) and to prevent them. It is also the purpose of the agreement to create a safe working environment, an integrated approach to develop strategies for risk assessment, danger prevention, training, information conveyance, sensibilisation and supervision and to introduce reaction and follow up procedures.

The role of employee representatives of vital importance
The agreement is also aimed at the role of employee representatives, attributing to them a special role with regard to avoiding dangers. The employer representatives are also made to discharge their duties and have to convey and apply suitable information and awareness measures to draw attention to the danger of sharp and pointed instruments as working appliances.

Social dialogue as a successful model to protect the workers’ rights

Once more the European Social Partners were able to prove that the European social dialogue is an effective instrument to achieve improvements for workers within the EU. If only other matters could be solved so easily. Now the European Social Partners will bring a motion to the Commission, which after the summer break will, pursuant to Article 139 of the EC Agreement, submit a proposal to the Council for implementing the agreement by means of a Directive.

Further information:

Press release of the European Commission

Agreement of the Social Partners