PES Common Candidate commits to better working conditions on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Nicolas Schmit in a steel factory

Nicolas Schmit during a visit at a steel factory as European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. photo: EBS

Today, on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we stand firm in our commitment to ensuring the safety and health of every worker.
This commemoration is part of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) efforts to raise awareness of how to make work safe and healthy and of the need to raise the political profile of occupational safety and health. 28 April also marks the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, organised worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996.
This year, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on the impacts of climate change on occupational safety and health. Despite the growing climate crisis and rising temperatures, only a few European countries have legislation in place to protect workers during heatwaves. High temperatures significantly elevate workplace accident risks, affecting 23% of EU workers, particularly in agriculture, industry, and construction. Moreover, higher temperatures may exacerbate exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as when working with solvents. With the severe heat waves in recent summers, the number of tragic reports of work-related deaths and injuries linked to unsuitable working conditions due to heat has increased.
Our Common Candidate, Nicolas Schmit, has been advocating within the Commission for the protection of workers from extreme weather phenomena. On the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, he stresses the urgency of protecting workers from extreme weather events:

“We simply cannot accept the grim reality that every workday across the EU, twelve workers leave to work and never return home because they have died at work. On this day, we remember those killed or injured at work. No one should lose their life while trying to earn a living. We must ensure a safe working environment that does result in either physical or psychological suffering for any worker.

The last eight years were the hottest on record globally. It is workers who stand at the frontline of the climate crisis every day, being exposed to the increasing threat of extreme temperatures. We cannot continue to ignore the rising temperatures; we need to act urgently and decisively to combat climate change and prevent this tragic and unnecessary loss of life.

As the president of the next Commission, I commit to fulfilling the European Trade Union Confederation’s (ETUC) proposal to close the gaps in the protection of workers by implementing a directive on maximum working temperatures temperatures and making sure the ‘Vision Zero’ approach to work-related deaths will become reality all across the EU.”

PES remains committed to achieving Zero Deaths at work by 2030 and to better protect workers from occupational diseases and health hazards.

Nicolas Schmit

Nicolas Schmit

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights.