Experts of the EU project – HEROS – met to discuss the occupational health and safety challenges in the health care and social services sectors in Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the UK – particularly in the context of the difficulties experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On January 20th and 21st, an online workshop was held in the project HEROS – “Health Risk Outlooks by Social Partners. A multi-level analysis of health and safety policy interventions by social partners to identify effective ways to ensure better protection of employees at work”
The aim of the first day of the workshop was to discuss the current stage of the study. The experts focused on presenting the main results of the literature review on occupational health and safety of the caring professions in the hospital and social services sectors. The main identified problems include: insufficient workforce and associated work overload and long working hours, as well as low wages, stress and burnout. While in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge was initially the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and currently insufficient vaccination rate in population leading to hospital and care systems overload, and the abusive behaviour towards care staff.
The partners also discussed the methodological details of the unfolding qualitative research study, including the identification of key stakeholders in both sectors (including representative organisations of employees and employers) at national and EU level, and elaborating scenarios for the interviews.
The second day of the workshop was dedicated to in-depth debate with the invited representatives of social partners: Kristina Folkesson - Work environment strategist at Sweden's Municipalities and Regions (SKR) / active in SALAR member of HOSPEEM and Sylvain Renouvel - Director of the Federation of European Social Employers. The discussion focused on three main issues:
• Health & safety challenges beyond COVID-19: challenges faced by care workers in hospitals and elderly care which are of high priority
• What should be done to overcome health & safety challenges faced by care workers in hospitals and elderly care?
• What hampers or facilitates ‘good’ health & safety practices and regulations that protect care workers in hospitals and elderly care?
The insights obtained will be used by the research team to construct research tools and to prepare for conducting individual interviews at the national and EU level.
The Institute of Public Affairs was represented at the meeting by Dominik Owczarek, Maciej Pańków and the project expert - Jan Czarzasty.
More about the project under the following link: https://www.isp.org.pl/en/projects/heros
Funding: DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission