Smoke-Free Workplace Awareness Campaign Launched by EU-OSHA
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) took part in the World No Tobacco Day, unveiling its “Smoke-Free Workplaces” awareness-raising campaign calling on employers and workers to eliminate environmental tobacco smoke in workplaces all around Europe.
According to EU-OSHA, it supports the pan-European campaign “Ex-smokers are Unstoppable” by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumers.
In the European Union (EU), it is estimated more than half a million deaths per year are related to smoking. Of that number, about 79,000 are thought to be related to environmental tobacco smoke. Currently, most EU countries have in place smoke-free laws or a total ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, although their scope differs from country to country. This means there are still premises where employees are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. [WCx]
EU-OSHA’s “Smoke-Free Workplaces” campaign aims to support employers and employees in creating smoke-free workplaces, regardless of the existing national regulation in each Member State. Three leaflets in 24 languages, a video clip featuring the cartoon character Napo, “Lungs at Work,” and other information materials have been created to reach this goal.
The campaign, EU-OSHA sheds light on “false truths” on smoking in the workplace. Contrary to popular belief there is no ventilation system capable of completely eliminating smoke and indoor smoking areas always pollute the air of non-smoking rooms.
Moreover, locating smoking areas around doorways, windows, or vents of buildings often leads to environmental tobacco smoke exposure due to the draft effect. EU-OSHA stresses that smoking rooms do not prevent the exposure of workers to smoke, because cleaning staff working in these premises breathe the polluted air.
The leaflet Advice for Employers to Create a Healthy Working Environment gives practical tips how to implement smoking cessation in workplaces and basic information about the health and economic aspects of smoking at work. Workers will find advice in the leaflets Smoke-free Workplaces for smokers and non-smokers. Both leaflets encourage workers to raise the issue internally and actively engage employers in solving the problem.
According to a recommendation of the Council of the European Union from 2009 all EU countries should implement respective laws to fully protect EU citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, workplaces and public transport by this year 2012. [WCx]
For instance, only Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom have introduced a total ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, with a ban in Bulgaria effective June 1, 2012.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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