At the Plenary Session held on 22th June, the Economic and Social Council (ESC) adopted an opinion on the "Main Priorities in the Draft EU Strategic Framework on Occupational Safety and Health - 2021-2027".

The rapporteur of the opinion Dr. Kokalov presented the main priorities addressed in the opinion such as new forms of work and digitalization, cancer prevention, small and medium enterprises and etc. Dr. Kokalov noted that every year there are over 3 million occupational accidents in the EU, of which 4000 are fatal and 120000 people die from cancer related to the working environment. Also, more than a quarter of the workers in Europe experience excessive work-related stress, but 23% believe that their safety and health at work are at risk. Work on setting limit values ​​for additional carcinogens and mutagens and other dangerous substances must continue to be a top priority in the future strategy.

In its opinion, the ESC expresses support for the new Strategic Framework, which will help the efforts of the Member States for more effective national policies in this area. With this regard, the ESC recommends that Bulgaria prepare an impact assessment of the national strategy on occupational safety and health for the previous period. The ESC also emphasizes the crucial importance of the involvement of the social partners in the elaboration and implementation of the EU Strategic Framework on Occupational Safety and Health for the period 2021-2027, taking into account the specific differences in the Member States.

In the opinion, the ESC supports the development of a European occupational safety and health barometer, which would lead to improvement of the database and the collection of information. Attention is also paid to the need for resources of the national labour inspectorates. Last but not least, the opinion points out that the new European Labour Authority could play an important role in ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for cross-border workers, seasonal workers and migrants.

The conclusions and recommendations in the opinion could be useful for the representatives of Bulgaria in the European institutions in the elaboration, discussion and adoption of the European Occupational Safety and Health Strategy. The opinion could be used in the development of the next national strategy for safety and health at work in Bulgaria.

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