European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2020 - Forum "COVID-19 - Safety and health at work during the pandemic"

October 24, 2020

COVID- 19 has brought workers at the forefront

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared six months ago, but its effects will last for at least another two or three years. First predictions are showing its end in 2022, although new predictions are talking more about 2023 as the year when the pandemic will end.

These data were presented by Dr. Aleksandar Milovanović, director of the Institute of Occupational Medicine "Dr. Dragomir Karajović" at the Forum "COVID-19 - Safety and health at work during the pandemic".

The Forum was held today in the Ceremonial Hall of the Old Palace, on the occasion of marking the European Week of Occupational Safety and Health, organized by the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Twinning project "Support and improvement of Occupational Safety and Health and Labour Inspection in the Republic of Serbia ", which is financed by the European Union in the total amount of 1.5 million euros.

Forum speakers were Mr. Ingve Engstrom, Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union, Mr. Zoran Djordjevic, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, Ms. Marina Furtula, Acting Director of the Directorate for Occupational Safety and Health and Mr. Vojin Jondic, Deputy Director of the Labor Inspectorate.

"Now, more than ever, safety and health at work must be in the focus, while we are all globally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which puts many workers at the forefront. Therefore, this week, our partners from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work are working together to raise awareness on this important topic all across Europe - just as we are doing today in Belgrade", said Yngve Engstrom from the EU Delegation to Serbia.

He added that, due to the high level of safety and wellbeing of workers, Europe is one of the best places to work and live in the world. This is also shown by the Eurofound survey, which shows that 85% of respondents are satisfied with working conditions. In that sense, in the area of social policy and employment, Serbia is moderately prepared.

"We warmly welcome the adoption of the action plan for alignment with the EU acquis in social policy and employment," Engstrom added.

"As you are all aware, the EU provides significant assistance to Serbia on this path, and this Twinning Project is designed to help in improvement of the system of occupational safety and health in Serbia, but also to contribute to harmonization with EU standards," concluded the representative of the EU Delegation.

It was pointed out that construction jobs and industry are the most risky for the safety of workers, most often due to unsafe work at height, non-use of protective equipment, electric shocks. However, special attention was paid to the current conditions - that there is a new factor for safety and health at work, the corona virus.

"It may be a good warning that if we apply all measures during the pandemic, that it will in some way leave a mark that in the days after the pandemic we will continue to do so, use protective equipment and stick to the law," said Minister Djordjevic .

"The Republic of Serbia, as well as all member states of the European Union in the 43rd week mark the European Week of Safety and Health at Work. This year, we wanted to dedicate ourselves to this most current topic, not only in our country but on the entire planet, and that is protection against coronavirus " said Marina Furtula.

She added that only a small number of workers became infected in the workplace.

"We appeal again to both employers and employees, on how important it is for them to apply all preventive measures, because that is the only way we can save lives and health. Another appeal to everyone - wearing a protective mask is a prevention, which everyone should respect", concluded Futula.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Union has supported Serbia with various donations, including the purchase of emergency medical equipment and materials - respirators, masks, gloves, triage containers…

In March 2020, the European Commission offered Serbia a package of 93 million euros for the fight against COVID-19, and an additional 290 million euros was offered to the Western Balkans. However, EU support for Serbia's health system has a history of almost 20 years, which is fundamental to the functioning of the system that exists today. The EU has donated more than 200 million euros and given loans in the amount of 250 million in order to make the health care system in Serbia stronger. That is the basis that will help Serbia overcome the COVID-19 virus.

Source: The Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia