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News Archive

September 2004

Recent trends in pension arrangements shift the risk away from the employer to the employees

Traditional state pension systems are likely to remain the primary source of income for retired people in the future, according to the latest comparative study from the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO). But Europe's social partners are pushing for better occupational and individual pension arrangements in the light of future demographic trends.

Falling birth rates, an overall longer life expectancy and the ageing of the 'baby boom' generation have put increasing pressure on the sustainability of current pension systems. As a response, almost all European countries have recently reformed or started to reform their pension systems with a view to ensuring the adequacy in the future. As a consequence, many countries have seen a reversal of the trend of lowering the average retirement age and many early retirement schemes are being abolished or at least tightened up.

Occupational pensions and industrial relations, the recent comparative study from the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), examines the industrial relations aspects of recent pensions developments in 18 countries. The report focuses mainly on occupational pensions, an area where the social partners often play a significant or even dominant role.

'The report shows that Europe's social partners recognise that traditional state pension systems will in the future carry the bulk of pension obligations,' says Willy Buschak, the Foundation's acting Director. 'However, two significant trends can be observed: one is the tendency to foster the development of occupational pensions. Its relative importance, however, depends on the extent of collective bargaining and 'maturity' of industrial relation systems in the country. The second is growing number of individual arrangements, in which defined-benefit systems, for instance, are likely to be replaced by schemes based on defined contributions.'

This trend of individualisation of pension arrangements could have adverse effects on certain categories of workers. The report shows that there are large differences in pension coverage among different groups of workers.

Women, part-timers and unskilled workers are underrepresented in most occupational schemes, as well as the self-employed and workers in various other types of non-standard employment. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions is a tripartite EU body, whose role is to provide key actors in social policy making with findings, knowledge and advice drawn from comparative research.


For further information, contact the Foundation press officer Måns Mårtensson | Telephone: +353-1-204 3124 | email: |

European Mobility Week 16-22 September 2004

From 16-22 September Europeans will again have the opportunity to enjoy a full week of events dedicated to sustainable mobility. A wide range of initiatives tackling different aspects of urban mobility will be carried out by local authorities on each day of the week and in partnership with local organisations and associations. NGOs and businesses will have the opportunity to involve their local branches in joint projects with local authorities, so that progress is made towards more sustainable mobility on a permanent basis. The Car Free Day on Wednesday 22 September will be the highlight of the whole week, with the challenge of organising "In town without my car!" on a working day. "Safe Streets For Children" will be the central focus for European Mobility Week 2004. To launch the EMW 2004, DG Environment of the European Commission will host a conference in Brussels on 16 September called 'Smart Moves for Sustainable Mobility'. Experts and decision makers from all over the world will gather to try to answer questions and tackle the real problems of mobility in cities. What hampers developments and progress and what can we do to get on the right course? The conference aims to deliver concrete suggestions for the future work on sustainable mobility resulting in a better environment and health for Europeans.

For a list of national coordinators:

Health & Safety for Employees Working from Home

An increasing number of employers are allowing their employees to work partly, or exclusively, from their home. But being at home can mean that the homeworker becomes 'out of sight and out of mind', particularly when it comes to their health and safety. Both employers and the employee have responsibilities that they need to be aware of, and to implement, to ensure that both parties can have a safe and productive working relationship.

Scriptographic Publications' new 24-page booklet Homeworker's Guide to Health and Safety covers the important issues that employees need to understand, from doing a risk assessment, preparing and managing the working environment, through to avoiding slips, trips and falls. It also covers electrical safety, lifting and carrying, using display screen and other equipment, and finally, how the employee can look after their personal welfare.

A free sample of this booklet, or any of Scriptographic Publication's other booklets, are available by calling Freephone 0800 028 5670, by Email:, by Fax on 01420 541743.

Michael Whitcroft, Scriptographic Publications Ltd, Charwell House, Wilsom Road, Alton, Hampshire GU34 2PP, UK | Tel: 08701 609 220 | email:

Economic security strengthens tolerance and happiness as well as growth and development

A new study by the International Labour Office (ILO) highlights that people's economic security promotes personal well-being, happiness and tolerance, while benefiting growth and development.

The report, "Economic Security for a Better World," (Note 1) includes estimates for countries representing more than 85 per cent of the world's population, and says such economic security -coupled with democracy and government spending on social security - not only benefits growth but can also promote social stability.

The report cautions, however, that economic security remains out of reach for the vast majority of the world's workers, about three-quarters of whom live in circumstances of economic insecurity that fosters what the report calls "a world full of anxiety and anger".

Only 8 per cent of people - fewer than one in ten - live in countries providing favourable economic security, said the survey produced by the ILO's Socio-Economic Security Programme.

"Coming shortly after the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, this book should enrich the debate on how we can build a fair globalization," says ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "Unless we can make our societies more equal and the global economy more inclusive, very few will achieve economic security or decent work."

The report marks the first attempt to measure global economic security as perceived by ordinary people and was based on detailed household and workplace surveys covering over 48,000 workers and more than 10,000 workplaces worldwide. Economic security is measured on the basis of seven forms of work-related security including income, labour markets, employment, skills, work, jobs and representation.

For further information, please contact the Socio-Economic Security Programme secretariat by email: or by phone: +4122/799-7913. Members of the team can give interviews in English, French, Portuguese or Spanish. For those interested in the issues in Africa, there is a companion book due for publication in September 2004, namely Confronting Economic Insecurity in Africa. Copies of this will be available at that time.

Note 1 - Economic Security for a better world, Socio-Economic Security Programme. International Labour Office, 2004. Price: 50 Swiss francs. ISBN 92-2-115611-7

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US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
NORA Team Examines the Changing Nature of Work

The workplace is rapidly changing, creating new and unstudied safety and health challenges. Organizational restructuring, new communication technologies, and extended work shifts have left many workers facing increased job demands and longer work days. The NORA Organization of Work Team examines how these trends affect worker health and safety. Team leader Steve Sauter explains the team's mission is to identify "what is known and not known about the health and safety implications and to promote research to fill these knowledge gaps."

The team responded to these knowledge gaps with it's white paper The Changing Organization of Work and the Safety and Health of Working People, published in 2002. Subgroups now focus on two high priority issues: work organization and women's health and the health and safety consequences of long working hours. Long working hours was also the theme of a successful conference the team recently co-sponsored with the University of Maryland; the Journal of the American Medical Association published the conference results in the July 7, 2004 issue. In addition, the team supports 21 research projects and funds 11 graduate training programs in the organization of work. Visit the team's Web page to learn more about their research and the NIOSH Stress Topic page to find related information about the organization of work.

International Beryllium Research Symposium 8-11 March 2005

Christine Schuler and Mark Hoover are collaborating, on behalf of NIOSH, with scientists at the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) and the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, as members of the organizing committee for an International Beryllium Research Symposium to be held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 8-11, 2005. Information on this symposium can be found at

Expanding Outreach to the Fire Service

US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Programme expanded its outreach to fire fighters and fire departments across the U.S. by collaborating with the editors of several widely read fire service trade journals to publish summary versions of selected investigative reports from the program. This cost-free strategy enables NIOSH to disseminate information for preventing fire fighter fatalities to at least 1.8 million fire service personnel. More information on the program can be found at

Waste no effort

A new website designed to help waste management and recycling industries has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Waste management and recycling is one of the UK's fastest growing industries due to the need to provide environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions to our everyday problems of waste. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous.

The site, which can be found at, aims to give everyone working in the industry access to free, up to date advice on health and safety.

James Barrett, Head of HSE's Manufacturing Sector, said:

"Of all the industries HSE monitors, the waste management and recycling industry has the highest fatal incident rate, figures that are well above both construction and agriculture. This is simply unacceptable. I welcome this new website as a place where the industry can obtain free advice. The Industry itself must take steps to instill effective health and safety management and develop a sensible health and safety culture."

Also speaking about the new website, Trevor Hay, Chair of the Waste Industry Safety and Health forum (WISH), said:

"Sadly, the waste and recycling industry compares unfavourably with most other industries in its health and safety performance. This new site is designed to help the industry improve its performance and because it is so easy to get to and to use, effort will not be wasted in this rapidly growing industry."

HSE publishes annual statistics of fatal injuries. Between 2001 and 2004 the rate of fatal injuries in recycling and waste was 27.7 per 100,000 employees. In a similar period, agriculture had a rate of 6.15 and construction a rate of 4.81. The numbers of fatal accidents occurring in industry are published on the HSE web site

'Mapping health and safety standards in the UK waste industry', a report of a research project carried out by Bomel Limited for HSE shows that, in 2001-02, the number of fatal incidents are over ten times the national average, the accident rates are over four times the national average. The incidents predominantly occur to refuse/recycling collection workers who manually handle and sort waste, the report can be accessed at

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Surfing for Safety

A new website for the surface engineering industry has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The site, which can be found at is designed to give everyone working in the industry access to free, up to date advice on health and safety.

Principal Inspector John Powell from HSE's Manufacturing Sector said: "I am so pleased to launch the surface engineering webpages. Sadly, the industry has seen incident rates increase over the last six years, whilst rates for the manufacturing industry have dropped. By book marking this new site as a 'favourite', people who work in the industry will be a 'click away' from sensible health and safety advice which will help them protect themselves and their business."

David Elliott, Chief Executive of the Surface Engineering Association (SEA) representing the industry, said:

"The HSE and SEA have been working together to publish best practices within the industry. This site will be a prime source of easy to understand and current information. We represent a diverse range of industries many of which are small businesses. Access via the internet enables the health and safety message to be disseminated quickly and effectively."