Aberdeen economists will lead a major new Europe-wide study into the economic impact of health and safety practices in the workplace.
The European Commission has funded the €1.05 million project, which is partly aimed at addressing rising levels of stress amongst EU workers.
Nineteen research institutions from across Europe, led by a team from the University of Aberdeen, are involved in the study.
Professor Ioannis Theodossiou, Director of the University’s Centre for European Labour Market Research (CELMR) is co-ordinating the project, which ultimately aims to improve the health and safety conditions of the EU workforce.
The other members of the Aberdeen research team are Professor Tim Barmby, Dr David McCausland, Dr Alexandros Zangelidis and Dr K. Pouliakas.
Professor Theodossiou said: “In 2000, the European Union laid out its plans to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustained growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
“The health and well-being of people of working age is of fundamental importance to this process and so a coherent and effective policy on health and safety in the workplace is therefore crucial.”
He said that one of the key issues which health and safety policy-makers face is the increasing incidence of social illnesses such as stress, depression and anxiety at work.
“These are issues, along with the rise of other occupational injuries and illnesses that need to be faced,” said Professor Theodossiou. “This new study will evaluate the cost and benefit of investing in health and safety at work and provide policy recommendations aimed at ensuring the continuing competitiveness of Europe’s changing labour markets.”
He said that there was a need for policy makers to target practical problems arising within the workplace, and design new procedures to be implemented by firms, especially to SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).
“Gathering information on the status of health and safety at work in the European Union member states is vital in order for policymakers to implement EU directives and to anticipate new and emerging risks,” added Professor Theodossiou.
The first meeting of the HEALTHatWORK group will take place on October 18 at the University of Aberdeen.