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ISSUE 56 page 7

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Health & Safety
Social partners get progress report on their ‘sharps’ directive
 THE PRACTICE OF TRADE UNIONS AND EMPLOYERS’ ORGANISATIONS making framework agreements which then become EU directives received another boost last year when the EU adopted the ‘Framework Agreement on Prevention from Sharp Injuries in the Hospital and Health Care Sector’ between the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the European Hospital And Healthcare Employers' Association (HOSPEEM). Now, one year on, the social partners have held a conference in Dublin to both retrace the process of its negotiation so as to highlight its main aims and to examine the steps that Member States have made to implement it (they have until 2013). They also gave details of actions that both the union and employer side had taken to raise awareness of the directive.It is estimated that there are about 1.2 million workplace injuries a year caused by medical sharps (these include both needles, scalpels and scissors as well as accidents involving such materials as broken glass).  More than thirty different infections, such as Hepatitis B and  HIV, can be
EUSharpsDirSign
transmitted to both health professionals and patients due to these accidents. The conference agreed that there were five main features in the agreement that was forged to try to reduce these figures: risk assessment; elimination, prevention and protection; information and awareness-raising; training and reporting. The directive also lays down penalties if these precepts are broken and says that they must be ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’. EPSU underlined the actions that had been taken to help the implementation of the directive including a project in the Baltic countries to strengthen social dialogue and get feedback on how the process was going there. The social partners had also met the World Health Organisation and the European Agency for Safety and Health (OSHA) who would help with a research database, a web site, mailings and training handbooks to disseminate the information necessary for successful implementation of the directive.

Karen Jennings (EPSU) and Godfrey Perera (HOSPEEM) sign the agreement

 

 


German ‘siesta’ catches on
THE GERMAN TRADES UNION CONFEDERATION, the DGB, has called for companies to follow traditional southerrn European practice by introducing facilities for a short nap in the middle of the working day. They say that scientific studies show that workers who have taken a midday snooze are better at learning tasks towards the end of their shift. According to a psychology professor at the University of Regensburg, ‘An afternoon nap bridges the power low (of midday) with its heightened risk of errors’. A survey in Greece even found 37% fewer deaths from heart disease among employees who took regular siestas compared with those who did not. Before the industrial revolution the practice was common in northern Europe but now it is dieing out in the south as well. Annelie Buntenbach, a DGB executive board member, believes that ‘Even though the siesta is something that isn't a given any more in the southern European countries, it is still a good idea for health reasons’. It seems that some employers agree with her as well known names such as BASF, Opel, Hornsbach and Lufthansa are now providing special rooms for naps on the grounds that they benefit from the increased productivity of well-rested workers.
Swedish study urges paid exercise in work time
Businesses that want to ensure the health and well-being of their staff should move from influencing their private lives in matters of diet and fitness to providing time during the working day for exercise. Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz and Henna Hasson from Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institutet found that the practice led to higher productivity after they finished a study in a large Swedish dental company. 'This comes on the one hand from people getting more done during the hours they are at work, and on the other hand, from less absenteeism owing to sickness'. One group of workers used two and a half hours of their week to exercise while another had an equivalent decrease in work hours without the fitness training and a third kept to their usual routine. Although the productivity of all three groups was maintained the exercising employees felt that they got more done at work and were absent less often.

 Hasson, H.
Researchers Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz and Henna Hasson




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