The purpose of Article 3 of the Charter is thus directly related to that of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which recognises the right to life.

In relation to the application of the right to safe and healthy working conditions set out in Article 3, new trends produce constant change in the work environment and new forms of employment which generate, increase and shift factors of risk to the workers’ health and safety. In particular, new technology, organisational constraints and psychological demands favour the development of psychosocial factors of risk, leading to work-related stress, aggression, violence and harassment. These may in turn cause mental health problems for the persons concerned, with serious consequences on work performance, illness rates, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover. They have also been identified as some of the most significant factors of disease and disability worldwide, cutting across age, sex and social strata, impacting low-income and high-income countries alike.

Recent studies have also established that occupational safety and health policies and psychosocial risk management are more common in larger undertakings, and that in practice, the main drivers for addressing in particular psychosocial risks are compliance with legal obligations and requests by workers. They further show that drivers for, and barriers to, psychosocial risk management are per se multidimensional, insofar as the employers’ willingness to act depends on a variety of factors such as organisational rationality, economic opportunity, or in any event compliance with legal obligations. Such complex and multidimensional factors place greater demands on the competence, resources and institutional capacity of labour inspection systems, which States Parties should consider when seeking to fulfil their obligations under the Charter.

For more information, consult the Digest of the European Committee of Social Rights

Department of Social Right

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