Healthy workplaces for all ages

The European campaign 'Healthy workplaces for all ages' was a two-year campaign coordinated by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in 2016-2017. It had four key objectives:

  • Promote sustainable work and healthy ageing from the beginning of the working life
  • Highlight the importance of prevention throughout the working life
  • Assist employers and workers (including SMEs) by providing information and tools for managing OSH in the context of an ageing workforce
  • Facilitate information exchange and good practices

For the third year running, BusinessEurope showed its commitment in supporting the EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces campaign as official campaign partner.

The closing event took place on 21-22 November in Bilbao. You can watch the videos here, including interventions by Kris de Meester, Chair of BusinessEurope Health and Safety working group in the opening panel and Rebekah Smith, Senior Adviser for social affairs, in the session on practical examples. More photos here

In the margins of the closing event, BusinessEurope organised a workshop to hightlight good practices by employers. See section 3 for more information.

Our campaign pledge

At BusinessEurope, we are calling for simple, adaptable and effective tools to help companies take action. In the area of health and safety, a lot can be done without the implementation of new laws and regulations. In many cases, a one-size-fits-all approach has proven to be ineffective. Flexibility and adaptability are the most successful answers regarding the challenge of the ageing workforce.

"Employers are committed to promoting healthy workplaces for all ages. This is important to deal with the challenges posed by an ageing population. It is important for companies to take account of the age profile of their employees when managing occupational safety and health at the workplace, as part of their overall prevention strategies. We need to look at how workers can remain in employment longer, in good health, and productive over the course of their working lives. At the same time, we should avoid generalising and stereotyping people according to age. We hope that the campaign will assist employers by providing them with useful information and tools in this respect. We are looking forward to actively engaging in the campaign". - Markus J. Beyrer, BusinessEurope Director General

The promotion of active ageing and inclusive workplaces is an important issue for BusinessEurope and its member federations. Also, the European social partners have committed to take action to foster active ageing and an inter-generational approach as part of their  2015-2017 work programme.

Good practices by employers - Workshop on 21 November 2017

Good health and safety is important to make longer working lives a reality, but only in a broader context where motivation, job content and working relationships are also important.

Why promote sustainable working lives?

The population in Europe is ageing quickly. According to the 2015 Ageing report, published by the European Commission, Europe is turning ‘increasingly grey’. Decreases of the population are expected in about half of the member states and currently, only France and Ireland have sufficient fertility rates in order to allow population growth.

Of course, the fact that we live longer and healthier is good news - life expectancy has increased on average by 10 years during the last 50 years. But the other side of the coin is that the demographic old-age dependency ratio, i.e. the share of people over 65 years old compared to the working-age population, is expected to double between 2014 and 2060, from 27.8% to 50.1%. This brings challenges for our labour markets to function efficiently and for the sustainability of our social systems.

Therefore, we need to look at how to raise participation rates of older workers, and how to retain older workers in employment in good health whilst ensuring their productivity. Part of this is promoting active ageing throughout the whole working life.

Why is it important for employers and business?

Employers are committed to protecting their employees’ safety and health at the workplace. There can also be a business case, by contributing to lowering sick leave and absenteeism rates, ensuring business continuity, increasing well-being and staff motivation and ultimately making workplaces more productive. Of course, different prevention programmes must be cost-effective for your company. Looking at cooperation and knowledge-sharing between younger and older workers is also a good way to ensure all workers’ continued involvement and contribution. This can be beneficial to the whole company in terms of sharing experiences and skills.

How can it be promoted at the workplace?

The EU-OSHA website features a range of tools and guides made both for employers and workers to promote sustainable working lives.

This page of the agency’s website explains the approach of the EU-OSHA regarding active ageing.



This e-guide provides simple and clear explanations of the main issues regarding active ageing and provides some efficient guidance regarding health and safety at work.

In complement to this e-guide, you can check the ‘practical tools and guidance’ section of the EU-OSHA campaign website if you want some concrete examples of tools currently being used by different actors such as employers, HR managers or trade unions. This PowerPoint presentation has been prepared especially for this campaign. It can help you promote active ageing within your company and present the main issues in a clear, understandable way.

Good practices: Healthy Workplaces in actions

This report has been prepared as part of the “Age management policies in enterprises in Europe” project, run by BusinessEurope, UEAPME and CEEP. It provides recommendations for policy-makers but also interesting case studies from various member states.

The EU-OSHA website also presents 24 concrete case studies from 16 different European countries.


Active ageing: framework agreement signed

On 8 March, European employers and trade unions signed a framework agreement on active ageing and an intergenerational approach. The agreement is to ensure a healthy, safe and productive working environment and work organisation to enable workers of all ages to remain in work until legal retirement age. It is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience between generations at the workplace and takes into account the changing national demographic and labour market realities. Check the photo album of the ceremony, download the framework agreement or the presentation of it.