ACSH - The Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
Tripartite political body of the European Commission
The Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (ACSH) is the central body of the European Commission for all issues relating to occupational health and safety. This is where any Community action and EU initiatives are discussed, information is exchanged and opinions are formed. ‘Work safety policy’ is made.
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 workplace safety activities and/or initiatives of the European Commission are discussed in the committee. The tripartite appointment of government, employee and employer representatives provides a far-reaching overview on upcoming issues and problems. The recommendations of the Committee are developed consentaneously 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 by the Governmental Interest Group as well as by individual working groups 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 Commission is chaired by the Commission, more specifically the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Integration, 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.
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 health and safety (e.g. new legislation or Community programmes),
- to draw the attention of the KOM 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's 2014-2020 policy framework on occupational safety and health, 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.
The Committee has set up a series of Working Parties with a mandate that deals with specific topics, such as projects, assignments, workshops and seminars, in terms of supervision as well as organisation. These may be permanent or time-limited contracts.
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