On the basis of article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, numerous community measures have been enacted in the context of occupational health and safety.
European directives are legally binding and must be implemented in national law by all the member states within a certain period of time. European directives include minimum requirements and basic principles, regarding risk prevention and risk assessment, for example, and they also set out the obligations of employers and employees.
The basis of the European legal regulations in the area of occupational health and safety is provided by Framework Directive 89/391/EEC as well as additional directives pertaining to the specific aspects of health and safety in the workplace.
EU guidelines are non-binding documents. EU guidelines serve the purpose of facilitating the implementation of both the European directives and the European standards which have been determined by the European standardisation bodies.
EU regulations are legal acts of the European Union which have general validity and are directly effective in the member states.
A "harmonised standard" constitutes a standard which, subsequent to the request of the European Commission, is issued by one of the European standardisation bodies - the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) or the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI).