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Introduction

National strategies are vital policy instruments to enhance the effectiveness of an OSH system by defining the key priorities and actions for improving workers’ health and safety.

The Commission called on the Member States to update and draw up their national OSH strategies in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 - in cooperation with social partners - to ensure that the new measures are applied on the ground.

In Cyprus, safety, health and well-being at work fall within the competence of the Department of Labour Inspection. The Department is operating under the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance. The basic aim of the Department in the field of safety and health at work is the safeguarding of appropriate and adequate levels of safety and health at work for the elimination or drastic reduction of work accidents and occupational diseases and the protection of the public against risks arising from work activities.

Basic Information

The Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 is a continuation of the Strategies of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2013 –2020 and 2007– 2012 and sets out the directions and priorities for the continuous and steady improvement of safety and health levels in the workplace. The new Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work was formulated after consultation with the members of the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council and the Labour Advisory Body and was approved by the Council of Ministers on 21 December 2021 and signed on 15 April 2022.

The current strategy is:

  • Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2021 – 2027 - Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027[1].

Former strategies are:

  • Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2013 – 2020[2]  (Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work during the period 2013-2020).
  • Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2007 – 2012[3] (Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2007 to 2012).

Background and the perceived problem

The main objective of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance and the State of Cyprus and its Society, is the protection of workers and the continual and constant improvement of safety and health levels in workplaces. Despite the problems that arose due to the economic crisis that hit Cyprus and the COVID-19 pandemic, which had adverse effects globally, all involved stakeholders continued to strive to achieve the goals of the strategy. 

Main characteristics and objectives of the OSH-strategy (activity plan)

The Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work for the period 2021 - 2027 defines the direction and priorities set for achieving the above-mentioned objective in the changing work environment brought about by the European efforts for green, digital and demographic transitions.  In addition, the actions mentioned in this strategy aim at achieving the “Vision Zero” approach to work-related deaths in the European Union, with zero fatal workplace accidents.

The ten fundamental pillars of this Strategy are:

  1. The utilisation and improvement of the institutional framework regulating safety and health at work issues.
  2. The existence of a suitable and sufficient Legislative Framework for safety and health at work.
  3. The operation of a suitable and adequate Labour Inspection System for safety and health at work.
  4. The Improvement of the operation of supporting institutions.
  5. The expansion and improvement of the health surveillance and health promotion system of employed persons.
  6. Promotion of accidents prevention and nurturing a safety and health culture.
  7. Incorporation of safety and health at work issues into other policy areas.
  8. Encouragement and utilization of scientific progress and relevant research.
  9. Close cooperation with the social partners and other stakeholders.
  10. Active participation in the bodies and work activities of the European Union and in other European or international organisations.

Details of the strategy and activity plan (fundamental pillars)

  1. The utilisation and improvement of the institutional framework regulating safety and health at work issues

The framework is based on:
Activities of the Labour Advisory Body, which advises the Minister of Labour, and Social Insurance on all labour issues and presents recommendations and suggestions on the working legislation.
Activities of the Pancyprian Council of Safety and Health, which advises the Minister of Labour Welfare and Social Insurance.

  1. The existence of a suitable and sufficient Legislative Framework for Safety and Health at Work.

The legislative framework is fully harmonised with the corres­ponding European acquis. However, it will be supplemented due to particular requirements of Cyprus due to activities arising out of the digital transition, the green transition and the demographic transition.

In addition, the strategy will promote the simplification of the national legislative framework without reducing the level of safety and health at work.

  1. The operation of a suitable and adequate Labour Inspection System for safety and health at work.

This includes activities as:

  • Implementation of an inspection programme based on accurate and true data from inspections, accidents, occupational diseases, dangerous occurrences as well as other indicators arising from relevant surveys.
  • Establishment of proper structures within the Department of Labour Inspection for (a) the enforcement of legislation on health and safety of the workers at offshore hydrocarbon drilling activities and the safety of these installations and (b) the control of installations that could cause major accidents including natural gas installations.
  • Adaptation of the Labour Inspection System to deal effectively with emergencies in the workplace such as pandemics. For this reason, the current specialised Action and Preparedness Plan for dealing with future health crises (e.g. pandemics) was prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, which includes the enforcement of relevant European directives and instruments.
  • Arrangements for the provision of suitable and systematic training of the inspectors with regard to existing, new and emerging risks, such as risks arising from new forms of employment (e.g. telework, part-time work, platform work), new technologies and digitalisation, at the same time covering issues on offshore activities.
  • Exchange visits of inspectors from Cyprus with inspectors from other member states of the European Union aiming at acquiring knowledge and experience
  • Providing inspectors suitable technological equipment and supporting them with computerised systems. Promoting the use of digital tools to make workplace inspections more productive, along with prevention and appropriate action following detection of violations of the law.
  • Strengthening the cooperation of the Labour Inspection System with other services, such as the police, the Cyprus fire service, the Department of Labour, etc. to improve safety and health in all sectors of employment.
  • Improving the structure and staffing of the Department of Labour Inspection.
  1. Supporting institutions
  • Providing targeted support and information to the safety officers as well as to the authorised persons who provide protection and prevention services for safety and health at work. Strengthening of the framework and relevant procedures related to the establishment of authorised persons providing protection and prevention services.
  • Improving the establishment of safety committees with the aim of more active participation of workers' representatives and strengthening consultation to promote safety and health at work with the aim of developing safe, healthy, and productive workplaces.
  • Promoting the establishment and operation of internal protection and prevention services and appointing persons responsible for safety issues and their deputies, with the aim of appointing such persons by employers to deal with protection and prevention activities at the workplace.
  1. The expansion and improvement of the Health Surveillance and Health Promotion System of employed persons.

The health surveillance system will be improved through the implementation of an Action Plan which was prepared after the completion of an expert study and through the enforcement of the legislation on health surveillance and the publication of relevant decrees.

  • The effort for improving the registration, monitoring and prevention of occupational diseases will continue. Special effort will be made to combat musculoskeletal diseases, psychosocial factors, stress at work and diseases caused by exposure to dangerous substances.
  • Promoting the European Code against cancer, to inform workers about combatting occupational diseases and deaths due to cancer.
  • Managing occupational risks related to diseases of the circulatory system.
  • Assessing and managing the risks that might have an impact on workers with disabilities and workers affected by pandemics.
  • Seeking a peer assessment of the prevailing situation in terms of psychosocial and ergonomic risks in several economic activities.
  • Monitoring the changes in the field of occupational exposure limit values for carcinogens and the management of biological agents.
  • Promoting a Workplace Safety and Health Policy for all Ages, aiming to address the problems arising from the ageing workforce, and thus improve the quality of life of older workers.
  1. Promotion of accidents prevention and nurturing a Safety and Health culture.

Promoting prevention of occupational accidents, diseases, and dangerous occurrences as well as the development of a health and safety culture through:

  • Regular and targeted inspections of workplaces.
  • Campaigns organised in collaboration with EU-OSHA and the European Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC).
  • Collaboration for the establishment and effective operation of the Safety Committees.
  • Publications and articles in the newspapers/magazines of the social partners and other organisations / institutions with particular interest in issues of safety and health at work.
  • Preparation and dissemination of simple, comprehensive, and inclusive information.
  • Dissemination of reports, info sheets and other material prepared by EU-OSHA.
  • Publication of legislation, informative/educational materials and other information related to activities that contribute to the promotion of occupational health and safety on websites and social media of the Labour Inspection Department and other stakeholders.
  • Organising, or co-organising seminars, workshops and other awareness and information activities.
  • Promoting other forms of cooperation with organisations that have special interest in safety and health at work.
  • Organising or participating in education programs and training.
  • Using economic incentives and disincentives.
  • Using voluntary tools, such as competitions, etc.
  • Publishing good practice examples.
  • Implementing plans and programs for promoting health in the workplace and cooperation with the medical staff.
  • Developing collaboration with stakeholders representing consultants, designers and manufactures of projects and equipment.
  • Working together with the mass media.
  • Encouraging workers, non-governmental organisations, and the general public to get in contact with the Labour Inspection Department.
  • Integrating health and safety at work into all operational levels of the organisation.
  • Support of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) through the use of simple and efficient tools, electronic applications and guides (e.g. OiRA tools).
  • Providing continuously guidance and training to MSEs regarding risk assessment and the implementation of preventive and protective measures.
  • Implementation of targeted awareness campaigns in cooperation with the press and information office and/or other governmental or non-governmental actors.
  • Promoting of the approach of Vision Zero for fatal accidents at work
  1. Integration into other policy sectors

Integration of occupational safety and health issues into other policy sectors and in particular the following:

  • Education: The inclusion of occupational safety and health issues in the curriculum of public and private schools at all levels of education, higher education institutions and training schools of public organisations and postsecondary training institutes as well as vocational training schools. So that today's pupils and students, but tomorrow's employers and employees, gain knowledge over time in Safety and Health issues as well as developing a safety culture.
  • Employment: Training of new workers concerning OSH issues; inspection of companies in order to improve OSH in the context of the examination procedure of granting alien employment permit by the Department of Labour and conducting effective inspections and monitor compliance with occupational safety and health obligations for seasonal workers in high-risk occupations.
  • Development: Imposing occupational health and safety requirements as part of the process for obtaining planning or building permits or approval certificates for premises to be used as workplaces, as well as the integration of occupational health and safety issues into the processes of public procurement.
  • Certification of professional qualifications: Inclusion of OSH issues to the subjects under examination in the context of certification of professional qualifications in various sectors of the economy and cooperation of the social partners and other organizations and bodies to promote the implementation of the defined standard professional qualifications.
  • Provision of subsidies: inspection of premises, to apply the minimum levels for Safety and Health, in cases financing is provided to industries, farms and other business premises through upgrade programs for equipment, facilities, reallocation of companies, etc.
  1. Encouragement and utilisation of scientific progress and relevant research

In collaboration with academic institutions, research institutes and services in Cyprus and abroad, research will be sought or both existing and new and emerging risks aiming at minimising accidents at work, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences related to green development, teleworking, digitalization and new technologies such as nanotechnology and waste management technology. Furthermore, the research pursued will cover demographic changes, changes in employment and the relationship between productivity and working life.

  1. Close cooperation with the Social Partners and other stakeholders
  • Strengthening of the already well-functioning cooperation with social partners.
  • Promoting the collaboration with the local authorities as well as with other institutions and specifically those that regulates professional qualifications, market surveillance and the protection of environment.
  • Cooperation with other competent authorities/organisations/ social partners regarding:
    • Discrimination at work due to gender issues,
    • Farmers’ education to increase their knowledge and skills in occupational safety and health, safe use of chemicals, plant protection and biological hazards.
  1. Active participation in the European Union and other European or International Organisations

Participation in the Advisory Committee for Safety and Health at Work Active (ACSH) and its working groups, in the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC), the governing body of EU-OSHA, European statistical service Eurostat, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and the European Chemical Agency (ECHA).

For the purpose of implementing the strategy, an Action Plan[4] was prepared, which includes the actions of each organisation participating in the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council, as well as other public and private sector organisations that can contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the strategy.

Actors and stakeholders

For the preparation of the Strategy, the views of the social partners, the results of the evaluation of the Strategy of Cyprus on Safety and Health at Work 2013 - 2020, the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027, the recommendations of the Committee of Senior Labour Inspectors (SLIC) and the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACHSW) of the European Union for a new European Strategic Framework on Safety and Health at Work and the experiences gained in applying the existing safety and health at work legislation were duly taken into account.

The Department of Labour Inspection (Τμήμα Επιθεώρησης Εργασίας (ΤΕΕ)), social partners, other public institutions and professional associations are involved in the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan.

Resources and timeframe

The budget of the Department of Labour Inspection of Cyprus is adopted every year to provide for most of the resources required to implement the strategy.

The strategy was approved by the Council of Ministers and was signed by all social partners and stakeholders participating in the Pancyprian Safety and Health Council indicating their commitment to implement the strategy making available all resources needed to promote and implement the strategy. The Pancyprian Council is an advisory body to the Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance on OSH issues.

The Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work covers the period from 2021 – 2027.

Evaluation/lessons learned

The implementation of the Strategy is evaluated at regular intervals through an Action Plan prepared for this purpose[5]. The evaluation is carried out on a yearly basis (usually in March) during a meeting of the Pancyprian Council on Safety and Health at Work. They provide information on actions concerning the implementation of the Strategy. The information is used to update the Action Plan and to evaluate the process of the implementation of the Strategy. The results of the evaluation of the Strategy on Safety and Health at Work 2013 – 2020 are listed in the new strategy.

The indicators that have been taken into account or measured were:

  • Accident Frequency Index.
  • Number of Safety Officers in companies.
  • Number of inspections.
  • Seminars, workshops, special actions.
  • Published guidelines.
  • Developed new OIRA tools.
  • New Laws, Regulations, Orders and Codes of Practice on various Occupational Safety and Health issues.

Some objectives are qualitatively defined like improved, modernised, suitable, informative, etc.

Relationship to EU Strategic Framework

The Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 was approved by the Council of Ministers on 21 December 2021, shortly after adoption of the EU Framework Strategy. The Strategy is in line with the EU Framework. There are relations to all the three key objectives of the European Strategic Framework.

Key objective 1 of the EU Strategic Framework (Anticipating and managing change) is covered in the Strategy of Cyprus for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 by the ten fundamental pillars of this Strategy:

  • No 2: Simplification of the national Legislative Framework, via the reduction and unification of legislative acts, without undermining the level of Safety and Health at Work standards.
  • No 2: The legislative framework will be supplemented due to particular requirements of Cyprus due to activities arising out of the digital transition, the green transition and the demographic transition.
  • No 3: Arrangements will be made for the provision of suitable and systematic training of the inspectors with regard to existing, new and emerging risks, such as risks arising from new forms of employment (e.g. telework, part-time work, platform work), new technologies and digitalisation.
  •  No 5: Special effort will be made for the combating musculoskeletal diseases, psychosocial factors, stress at work and diseases caused by the exposure to dangerous substances.
  • No 8: Research on occupational health and safety issues related to green development, teleworking, digitalization and new technologies such as nanotechnology and waste management technology.

Key objective 2 of the EU Strategic Framework (Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents) is covered by:

  • No 5: Promotion of the European Code against cancer.
  • No 5: Monitoring the changes in the field of carcinogenic limit values and the management of biological agents.
  • No 5: Managing occupational risks related to diseases of the circulatory system.
  • No 6: Promotion of the approach of Vision Zero fatal accidents at work.
  • No 9: Collaboration with social partners regarding discrimination at work due to gender.
  • Promoting Workplace Safety and Health Policy for all Ages, aiming to address the problems arising from the ageing workforce, and thus improve the quality of life of older workers.

Key objective 3 of the EU Strategic Framework (Increasing preparedness – responding rapidly to threats) is covered by:

  • No 3: Adaptation of the Labour Inspection System to deal effectively with emergencies in the workplace such as pandemics. For this reason, the current specialised Action and Preparedness Plan for dealing with future health crises.
  • No 6: Helping (Micro and Small Enterprises) MSEs manage occupational safety and health through the use of simple and efficient tools, electronic applications and guides (e.g. OiRA tools).
  • No 9: Collaboration with social partners regarding farmers’ education in order to increase their knowledge and skills in occupational safety and health, including the issue of safe use of chemicals and in particular plant protection and biocidal products will be provided.

       

       

       

       

       

       

      References

      [1] Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection, Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 (Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2021 – 2027). Available at: https://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dliup.nsf/All/A9A5E1856F456572C22587CA0027AD23?OpenDocument

      [2] Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection, Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2013 – 2020 (Στρατηγική της Κύπρου για την Ασφάλεια και Υγεία στην Εργασία 2013 – 2020). Available at:  http://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dliup.nsf/A2FE2C7752BCCA3CC2257DDC0021A202/$file/HEALTH&S_STRATEGY_2013_2020.pdf

      [3] Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection, Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2007-2012. Available at: https://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dliup.nsf/All/9B6406D720A37D1CC2257DDC00209616?OpenDocument

      [4] Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection, Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 – Action Plan (ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΙΚΗ ΤΗΣ ΚΥΠΡΟΥ ΠΑΝΩ ΣΤΗΝ ΑΣΦΑΛΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΥΓΕΙΑ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΡΓΑΣΙΑ ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΠΕΡΙΟΔΟ 2021-2027 ΣΧΕΔΙΟ ΔΡΑΣΗΣ). Available at: https://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dliup.nsf/A9A5E1856F456572C22587CA0027AD23/$file/SXEDIO_DRASIS_2021-2027.pdf

      [5] Cyprus Department of Labour Inspection, Cyprus Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2021 – 2027 – Action Plan (ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΙΚΗ ΤΗΣ ΚΥΠΡΟΥ ΠΑΝΩ ΣΤΗΝ ΑΣΦΑΛΕΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΥΓΕΙΑ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΡΓΑΣΙΑ ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΠΕΡΙΟΔΟ 2021-2027 ΣΧΕΔΙΟ ΔΡΑΣΗΣ). Available at: https://www.mlsi.gov.cy/mlsi/dli/dliup.nsf/A9A5E1856F456572C22587CA0027AD23/$file/SXEDIO_DRASIS_2021-2027.pdf

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