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ACSH - The Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work

Tripartite political body of the European Commission

The Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACSH) is the central body of the European Commission for all issues relating to occupational safety and health. This is where any Community action and EU initiatives are discussed, information is exchanged and opin-ions are formed. ‘Occupational Safety and Health’ is realised.

The Advisory Committee is a tripartite organisation set up in 2003 by a Council Decision (2003/C 218/01). From a national and European point of view, it is of great importance for health and safety at work, because any kind of occupational safety and health activities and/or initiatives of the European Commission are discussed in the committee. The tripartite appointment of government, worker and employer representatives provides a far-reaching overview on upcoming issues and problems. The recommendations of the Committee are developed by consensus and forwarded to the European Commission. The national members not only receive information from the Commission, but can also contribute topics, initiatives and experiences, establish and deepen contacts between the Member States and improve cooperation with the social partners.

Participation in the processing of important political issues, in the area of EU legislation, in strategic issues, or in the organisation of programmes is therefore of benefit to all parties. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is represented in the Governmental Interest Group as well as in individual working parties within the Committee.

Tripartite composition and operating mode

The Advisory Committee consists of three full members per EU Member State. They are in detail a government representative, a trade union representative and a representative of the employers' organisations (currently 84 members). Two substitute members are appointed for each full member. The representatives belong to their respective stakeholders:

  • GIG - Governmental Interest Group
  • WIG - Worker Interest Group
  • EIG - Employer Interest Group

Each stakeholder group appoints a coordinator and a speaker. The ACSH holds two plenary sessions each year. In addition, the three interest groups also meet twice a year. The Committee is chaired by the Commission, more specifically the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Unit B.3 (Luxembourg). The organisation of the work of the Committee is chaired by a Bureau, consisting of two representatives of the Commission as well as the speakers and coordinators of the stakeholders.

Purpose

The Committee supports the European Commission in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of activities in the field of occupational safety and health. The tasks include in particular:

  • to provide active and forward-looking contributions to the definition of the Community's priorities and to develop relevant policy strategies,
  • to elaborate criteria and objectives to avoid accidents and health hazards,
  • to give opinions on Community initiatives on occupational safety and health (e.g. new legislation or Community programmes),
  • to draw the attention of the Commission to the requirements in terms of training and research activities,
  • to stimulate the exchange of opinions and experiences (to be an interface between national and European level).

The current priorities of the Committee's work entail the organisation of the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020, the exchange of information on national strategies and the monitoring of the evaluation process of the 24 directives on the protection of workers and the resulting activities. The simplification of the legal framework and the adaptation to the changing work environment are taken into account. On the international level, cooperation is being expanded, particularly with the USA and China.

Working parties

The Committee has set up a series of Working Parties with a mandate that deals with specific topics, on which for example projects are tendered and accompanied or workshops and seminars are organised. These may be permanent or ad-hoc working parties.

Information, opinions and recommendations are prepared in a consensual manner in the working parties and submitted to the plenum for approval.

Strategically important working parties with a German government participation, include among others:

  • WP Strategy and AC Action Programme
  • WP Chemicals at the Workplace
  • WP Actions resulting from ex-post evaluation