Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load

The European campaign "Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load" is a two-year campaign coordinated by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work for the years 2020–2022.

The campaign’s objective is to raise awareness of the work-related muskulo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) and their negative consequences, not only on the health and well-being of individual workers, but also on work and productivity. The campaign aims at disseminating good practices and promoting a preventive culture to avoid MSDs.

For the fifth time in a row, BusinessEurope is committed to supporting the EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces campaign and is an official campaign partner.

Our campaign pledge

At BusinessEurope we are calling for simple, adaptable and effective tools to help companies take actions. We highlight that companies are committed to fostering healthy workplaces. With their ''hands-on experience'' companies greatly contribute to improving existing solutions and inspire others to develop new, tailor-made measures.

"European employers are committed to providing healthy and safe workplaces. This includes taking action to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, which is important not only to protect workers, but also to avoid high levels of staff absence, improve productivity and ensure business continuity. This has become an even more topical issue with COVID-19. At the same time, musculoskeletal disorders can also be caused by activities outside work. Therefore, it's important to not hold employers responsible for matters beyond their control. Companies also need guidance and tools to support them. That's precisely why we're supporting the campaign, as we hope it will provide these! We look forward to engaging." - Markus J. Beyrer, BusinessEurope Director General

Reasons for addressing work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Employers’ ambition is to create innovative and well-performing businesses. Healthy and safe workplaces are one of the basic conditions for productivity, as long as appropriate measures are in place which balance worker protection with competitiveness. Additionally, such workplaces contribute to overall satisfaction from work, which is crucial for stimulating creativity and ensuring a competitive edge.

Well-being of employees reduces the incidence of: absenteeism, presenteeism (working while unwell), sick leave, demotivation, burnout.

These can all have a negative impact on productivity, competitiveness and the smooth functioning of a business.

How can it be handled at the workplace? (1/2)

MSDs are preventable and manageable. Taking an integrated approach - based on the principles of the OSH Framework Directive - and promoting a prevention culture involving both employers and workers are key to tackling the issue.

The "Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load 2020-2022" proposes three actions to minimise the risk of MSDs:

  • Workplace risk assessment
  • A combination of preventive measures to eliminate/control risks
  • Encouraging worker participation
How can it be handled at the workplace? (2/2)

Given that MSDs have multiple causes, BusinessEurope would like to add three more effective ways of preventing or handling MSDs and their consequences:

  • Promotion of healthy life styles
  • Involvement of public health practitioners as part of a holistic approach
  • Awareness of best practices for healthy ways of working

It is important to note that several EU directives already deal with MSDs and other health and safety at work issues: on the manual handling of loads, on display screen equipment, on vibration. With this well-developed and comprehensive legal framework, it is now high time to facilitate exchanges on company and social partner practices, working solutions and to promote awareness.

Good practices: Healthy workplaces in action

Is work-related MSDs a challenge for your business, in your sector, in your country? Do you have useful examples of actions to tackle MSDs at the workplace or to support companies in doing so? Would you like to ask a question to employers from other countries?

This is the forum for you: we are eager to hear any success stories, burning questions or organisational challenges related to work-related MSDs!

If you have examples/opinion/question to share, please drop an email to Anna Kwiatkiewicz-Mory, Adviser at BusinessEurope Social Affairs Department and the liaison person for OSHA-related activities.

Please, also share your good practice with EU-OSHA: the call for nominations for the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards is open.