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Press Release
François Biltgen launches the annual European Week for Health and Safety at Work

Date of release : 21-04-2005

Policy area : Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs

On 19 April, the Minister for Labour and Employment, François Biltgen, in his capacity as chairman of the European Union’s "Employment and Social Affairs" Council launched in Brussels a largescale Europe-wide campaign with Commissioner Vladimir Špidla and Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, director of the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work. This European campaign will take place from October 24th to October 28th 2005.

This event, which takes place this year for the sixth time since the year 2000, will deal with the issue of reducing noise in the workplace. Thus, International Noise Awareness Day took place on 20 April 2005. The campaign’s motto will be "Stop the noise." According to Commissioner Špidla, "the campaign for the European week on noise was scheduled to contribute to the implementation of the directive on noise of February 2006. Among other things, the directive sets a new noise exposure limit value at 87 decibels". François Biltgen has emphasised that this directive is proof that there is such a thing as a social Europe and that it works not only for more jobs but also for better quality jobs. "With this directive, Europe will improve the quality of life at work for many workers," he said.

Annual European week

The public’s increased awareness of the stakes involved in health and safety has led many companies to make a safe and healthy workplace an important criteria when selecting sub-contractors and marketing their goods. As part of corporate social responsibility, health and safety at work is an ideal field for voluntary corporate ‘good practices’ that aim to go beyond existing regulations and standards.

Accordingly, the tripartite Advisory Committee on health and safety at work, presided over by the National Mines and Labour Inspectorate, and with the participation of the European Agency for health and safety at work in Bilbao, selects each year around half a dozen companies in a given sector or around a given topic. Over the course of a week to raise awareness of health and safety, these companies, which have excelled in their particular efforts or initiatives in the area of health or safety, are officially recognised by the Minister for Labour and Employment.

Risk of noise at work

The 2005 competition will reward companies and organisations that have made outstanding contributions in terms of reducing risks linked to noise at work, this year’s flagship theme for the Agency’s annual campaign for health and safety awareness at work.

Approximately one third of workers in Europe (over 60 million people) are exposed to considerable noise levels for over 25% of their time at work. All too often, noise at work is deemed to be a necessary evil and, because its effects are not instantaneous, its prevention is often not prioritised.

In parallel to a slow deterioration of hearing, noise at work can become a source of stress and a source of increased accidents at work, and can also harm the foetus of pregnant workers.

The World Health Organisation has recognised hearing loss due to noise as "the most predictable irreversible work-related illness."

This page was last modified on : 21-04-2005

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