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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 Spain, OSH is regulated by the Prevention of Occupational Risks Act of November 8, 1995, which covers all employees except self-employed. The National Commission for Safety and Health at Work (CNSST) is the OSH advisory body for the Government, Autonomous Communities, and Social Partners.

CNSST is responsible for promoting, monitoring and evaluating the Spanish Strategy on Safety and Health at Work. The Spanish Strategy on Safety and health at work was agreed with all social partners and autonomous regions after an extended process of social dialogue.

Basic information on the national OSH strategy

The National Institute for Safety and Health at Work (INSST) published in March 2023 the Spanish Strategy on Safety and Health at Work 2023-2027 - Estrategia Española de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo, 2023-2027 (EESST 2023-2027)[1].

Former OSH Strategies are:

Estrategia Española de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo 2015 – 2020[2]

Primera Estrategia Española de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo 2007- 2012

All documents are available at the INSST-website[3].

Background and the perceived problem

The Council of Ministers approved the Spanish Strategy for Safety and Health at Work (EESST) 2023-2027, the result of consensus between the General State Administration, the Autonomous Communities and the social partners. This Strategy is intended to be a new reference framework that guides public policies for occupational risk prevention.

The EESST 2023-2027 has been designed taking into account the challenges and opportunities that will arise in terms of safety and health at work in the coming years, placing the physical and mental health of people in the first order of priorities.

The EESST 2023-2027 is firmly committed to the priority axes of the European Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027 and, in particular, to the objective of anticipating the risks arising from the digital, ecological and demographic transitions.

Its action lines have also been aligned with other national strategies and plans in key areas such as mental health, gender equality, occupational cancer, road safety and climate change, among others.

Vision: “We aspire to achieve safe and healthy work environments that contribute positively to the health of workers, and to the progress of companies and society.”

To achieve this goal, the Strategy structures the priorities that must be addressed into six strategic objectives. All of them are interrelated and require the collaboration of all stakeholders, each from the scope of their powers and responsibilities.

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

The EESST document is divided into six strategic objectives, which are implemented through specific areas, lines and sublines of action.

Strategic Objectives:

  1. Improve the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases.
  2. Prevention of work-related risks derived from the new forms of work organisation, demographic and climate changes.
  3. Improve the health and safety management in SMEs: a commitment to integration and training in occupational health and safety.
  4. Strengthen the protection of vulnerable groups of workers or workers at higher level of risk.
  5. Introduce the gender perspective into occupational safety and health.
  6. Strengthen the national health and safety system to successfully face future crises (preparedness)

Details of the action plan

Objective 1: Improve the Prevention of  accidents at work and occupational diseases.

Lines of action:  

  1. Preventing accidents at work
  2. Preventing occupational diseases, with special emphasis on work-related cancer
  3. Preventing exposure to dangerous substances and agents, including carcinogens: breathable crystalline silica dust, radon gas, reprotoxic substances and dangerous medicines.
  4. Protecting workers from exposure to asbestos.

Priority: Reducing damage to the health of workers

Objective 2: Preventing of work-related risks derived from the new forms of work organisation, demographic and climate changes.

Lines of action:  

  1. Analysing the regulatory framework to adapt it to new forms of work, demographic and climate changes.
  2. Strengthening the research to understand the impact of technological, ecological, climate and demographic changes on the health of workers and to anticipate preventive actions.
  3. Monitoring and control of compliance with regulations.
  4. Supporting companies (especially SMEs) to identify, assess and control the risks deriving from the digitization, climate, environmental and demographic changes.
  5. Integrating health promotion and health sustainability in companies.
  6. Special actions for mental health
  7. Work, COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 consequences

Priority: Anticipating and managing new and emerging risks.

Objective 3: Improving OSH management in SMEs: a commitment to integrate and train OSH.

Lines of action:   

  1. Reviewing of the legal framework with the aim to improve its application and promote prevention.
  2. Improving OSH management in small and medium sized companies.
  3. Measures to encourage training and own resources in SMEs.
  4. Supporting SMEs to improve occupational safety and health.

Priority: Integrating prevention of occupational risks in small companies and promoting greater involvement of own resources.

Objective 4: Strengthening the protection of vulnerable groups of workers or workers with a higher risk level.

Lines of action:  

  1. Improving the protection of young workers and minors.
  2. Improving the protection of self-employed workers.
  3. Improving the protection of workers in the health and social care sector.
  4. Adopting guidelines for risk management in outpatient care services and domestic workers, especially with regard to ergonomic and psychosocial aspects.
  5. Supporting return to work after a prolonged period of sick leave.
  6. Improving the protection of workers with disabilities.
  7. Improving the protection of mobile and migrant and workers, including seasonal workers.

Priority: Raising the protection level of the most vulnerable groups.

Objective 5: Introduce the gender perspective into occupational safety and health.

Lines of action:  

  1. Reviewing the legal framework to integrate the gender perspective.
  2. Gender specific data collection and analysis of information on working and health conditions and in studies related to this issue.
  3. Transversal integration of the gender perspective in OSH risk management.
  4. Actions raising awareness to transversal gender integration into OSH policies.
  5. Monitoring and control measures.

Priority: Incorporate the gender perspective in OSH policies and in prevention management.

Objective 6: Strengthening the national health and safety system to successfully face future crises (preparedness).

Lines of action:  

  1. Establishing institutional coordination mechanisms before future crises.
  2. Developing and strengthening mechanisms to coordinate uniform application criteria in order to optimise the use of public resources.
  3. Strengthening of institutions dedicated to the prevention of occupational risks.
  4. Improving the training and further education in the field of occupational risk prevention with special consideration of preventive resources.
  5. Strengthening the role of the social partners.
  6. Encouraging collective bargaining.

Priority: Improving institutions and coordination mechanisms.

Actors and stakeholders

The Strategy was agreed with all social partners and autonomous communities after an extended process of social dialogue. Together with the Government, these actors are the members of the National Commission for Safety and Health at Work (CNSST)[4] the joint body on which institutions and social partners participate in the area of occupational safety and health. A list of the current members can be found at https://www.insst.es/cnsst/pleno/composicion.

Resources and time frame

Time frame:

The Spanish Strategy on Safety and Health at Work covers the period from 2023 to 2027.

To guide and plan the development of the lines of action agreed upon in the Strategy, two action plans will be drawn up, which will cover the periods 2023-2024 and 2025-2027.

Certain actions planned throughout the strategy require the corresponding financial support. The Government of Spain, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy and the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, is committed to ensuring stable financing to carry out the actions and to achieve the objectives.

The financial support, coming from the “Fondo de Contingencias Profesionales de la Seguridad Social”, will have an endowment of 20 million euros for the first action plan 2023-2024. For the second action plan 2025-2027, it will have a budget of 30 million euros.

A maximum of 90% of the budget for each year will be managed under the terms established in the fifth additional provision of Law 31/1995, of November 8 on Prevention of Occupational Risks. At least 10% will be managed by the National Institute for Safety and Health at Work, for carrying out the studies provided for in line 2.1 of Objective 2, as well as for actions to raise awareness and promote the preventive culture that are decided in the CNSST Working Group.

Evaluation

The EESST 2023-2027 will be monitored through a four-party working group (central government, regional governments, employers and trade unions) that has been set up as part of the functions of the National Occupational Safety and Health Commission.

A mid-term report of the first action plan will be presented in the last quarter of 2024. This mid-term report will be used to update the action plan for the period 2025 to 2027. If necessary, new measures will be included to achieve the objectives of the EEST.

Relationship to EU Strategic Framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027

The EESST 2023-2027 includes all key objectives of the EU Strategic framework.

Some examples:

Key objective 1 of the EU Strategic Framework (Anticipating and managing change) is covered by objective 2 in lines of action 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Psychosocial risks and mental health problems are tackled in objective 2 action line 6.

Demographic change in objective 2, action line 3.

Key objective 2 the EU Strategic Framework (Improving prevention of work-related diseases and accidents) is covered by objective 1 in all lines of actions. The Vision Zero approach is also mentioned in objective 1.

Key objective 3 of the EU Strategic Framework (Increasing preparedness – responding rapidly to threats) is covered by objective 6.

 

 

References

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